New York City (Veronica is a punk rocker)

Bodies soaked like athletes at the finish line the crowd spilled into the winter they’d forgotten, ears still clanging power chords and thrumming bass lines. They juggled warm layers reclaimed from the hat-check.

Veronica tapped Van’s shoulder. ‘Can you hold this for me?’ She held her jacket out to him, unsure if he’d heard.

Van nodded, felt the weight of the black leather. He watched as she wriggled into tight mohair. As she hooked her hands below her long, red hair, pulling it free of her collar she shouted, ‘You from round here?’

‘Just visiting,’ he said.

She cupped a hand to her ear.

‘Just visiting,’ again. Louder. He tried to hide his accent.

‘What did you think?’ She took the jacket and hauled it on.

It was Van’s turn not to hear.

‘The band?’ she shouted.

‘Oh, great.’ Van held up two thumbs. Then he put his fingers in his ears to show how hard it was to hear.

Veronica motioned for him to follow her—to get away from the crowd. He wrapped his scarf twice around his neck and crossed with her to the other side of the road. The first flakes of the winter’s first snow began to fall.

Thirty-five hours before he’d left a place where the sun had been baking hot.