She stood up from the couch to leave, smiling a sweet, easy good-bye. For half a moment, he believed that just seeing that was worth the empty echo moment after the door settled shut behind her, and he smiled back without a thought. When she turned her back, crossing the room to gather her things, he let his eyes drift to the floor.
Her feet tapped lightly against the floor, and she rustled into her coat, and the edge of every sound held edge and echo, sharp and hollow.
“Can you stay a little longer?” he asked quietly.
“Mornin’.” The man nodded to Lizza as she passed him in the hall on the way to the docks.
“Morning,” she returned.
And they both continued in their opposite directions, as if they’d actually passed polite greetings.
Sleep starved as Lizza was, her mind caught on the echo, and how ridiculous it was. The single word was not a greeting, or a good wish. It was simply an exchange of information that they both already had. It’s morning, he had told her, and she had graciously confirmed, yes, it is morning. Ridiculous. The sun was up. Of course it was morning.
It would be better, she decided, to at least give some information that the other person might not have.