"You've got to get up sometime," I said. I stood over the bed and watched her, entangled in sheets that need washing, as she stared at the wall.
She shook her head ever so slightly. Her wings trembled, then she spread them to cover her face and block me out.
"Eat something, at least," I said.
"If I get up to have a cigarette, will you stop bugging me for awhile?" she croaked in a low voice.
"Sure, but you have to have it with me outdoors."
"Gnnnngmmm," she replied.
Five minutes later she was out on the balcony in her underwear, shivering. We didn't have chairs out there so we both just sat on the cold cement. Her wings were spread out against the siding, stretching, and soaking up what heat was available from behind the clouds. I admired the coal black feathers that seemed to sparkle even in the dull overcast light. She watched the snarled traffic on the street below.
"This is the best time of your life you know," I said.
"Spare me the pep talk," she said blowing out a cone of smoke.
"I'm just saying, there's so much you can do. I mean, you did a lot for me."
"I'm your guardian angel. It's my job."
"Well, I know that, of course, but you know, there's other stuff you can do. You shouldn't just stay in bed all the time."
"I'm depressed. It's what the depressed do best."
"I don't see how you can be--"
She took another long drag on the cigarette, then stretched out her legs and bowed her head to each of her knees in turn before leaning back on the wall again.
"It's not healthy, you know, to stay in bed all the time," I said.
"I'm immortal," she said.
"Yes," I said. I never knew what the appropriate response to that was. She always seemed a little obsessed with existing forever.
"You know how depressing it is to be depressed and immortal? You can end ever end the misery. There's no hope of checking out. The only relief is sleep." She pressed the cigarette against the cement and extinguished it. "Besides, you're not in any position to be giving me lectures. I don't know...maybe I've failed you."
She stood up and cracked her back, then opened the sliding glass door and went inside. I followed, watching her flop back onto the bed, curling up with the comforter. I sat down on the carpet next to the bed, making sure I was in her eye-line.
"I know what you mean," I said.
"You never want to talk about it," she said, her voice partially muffled by a pillow.
I looked over to the front door of the apartment.
"It's uh...hard," I said, my voice cracking.
"We're both stuck," she said, closing her eyes.
"But your fate is tied with mine."
"Not forever," she whispered, beginning to fall asleep.
Her face was impassive, and so still. I'm not sure if she ever even needed to breathe. Her wings started to droop. I reached out to stroke the feathers, but she pulled back her wing and opened a single eye to glare at me.
"I'll do it," I said. "I'll do it if it will make you better."
"I can't guarantee that will happen, but if you're willing to try, go ahead."
I stood up and walked slowly to the front door. She got up and followed me, a pace behind. My stomach knotted up and I felt light-headed. Somehow I shuffled all the way to the door, my socks catching on the carpeting. I undid the deadbolt and felt fluid rising in my esophagus. She put her hand on my shoulder.
"It's okay. What you're feeling is natural after so much time."
"No it's not," I said, biting my words. "I'm a freak."
"So? What if you are?" she said.
"I want to do it, I do," I said, twisting the doorknob.
"It's not any different than going out on the balcony."
"It is. That's just a small space. This is the whole world."
"It's a large universe. Trust me, I've seen it. Your whole world isn't much bigger than your balcony."
I held my breath and creaked the door open. I looked down at the hideous blue carpet in the hallway. I don't remember anymore how many deliveries I had accepted at that threshold. It was worn with the footsteps of the Chuck my pizza delivery guy, and Amanda the mail carrier who graciously brought my mail upstairs for me, and countless other people. It had to end, and why not now?
"The sadness is threatening to seep away," she said.
I stepped forward and took a big breath.
"That's not so bad. Keep going. I'll be right behind you."
I stepped out into the middle of the hall, and stretched out my arms, grazing the walls of either side with my fingertips.
"I won't see you again, will I?"
"I'll be with you always," she said smiling brightly, before fading. I closed the door behind me, and set off for the elevators, and every footstep felt lighter and somehow safer. I could go on, unstuck.