Open doorways breathe out sour smells, moist wood smells. People wait for death with the TV on as round-the-clock company.
When she sits, her cloud of perfume settles like a soft cloak, cushioning the bench and protecting her from other people's touch.
The elevators groan open and admit you at your peril.
With a sense of satisfaction, she tells me that the world is going to pieces. It could be that it's her own world she's talking about, the one of slowness and illness. If her body is crumbling, so must everything else. She's not alone in her disintegration.
She speaks with command, her message urgent and worth hearing. Most of us won't act on it. We'll think we've done our part by showing up and appearing attentive.
One of those hopeful days, when the storms have ended, and it's possible to think there'll be no time wasted. The future is all mellow morning sunlight.
A dim marble lobby where a doorman paces, muttering about his dead phone.