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“4 AM Girl” By Matthew Maichen

She wanders through the streets past midnight. They assume it’s too dangerous for her. It isn’t because anyone who would harm her is asleep. She, on the other hand, is nocturnal. Four AM to her is four PM to us. A lazy hour stuck between afternoon and night, or midnight and morning. It’s when she goes for walks.

Her neighbors watch her through the windows, when they can. No one knows her family. The house they attribute to her (since they’ve neither seen her enter nor leave it) has its windows boarded up, and shows no sign of life. Some of them think she’s a ghost. She says nothing that would sway their opinion one way or the other. She’s too busy counting the cobblestones; climbing every tree just to see how the world looks from its branches.

She believes she’s psychic, no one’s told her otherwise. No one talks to her.

When she’s in a room with more than four people their thoughts rattle around in her skull. When she’s outside in the day she’s completely overwhelmed, and every horn or light or laugh is too much. She feels the sadness of the woman crying on the corner so harshly that her brain bleeds.

So she hides in her boarded up house, waiting for night.

One morning, they find her lying in the street. She isn’t breathing.

Her silent parents answer the door. Their hair and clothes are ragged. They look like they don’t sleep. They take her body, examine it, then bring it inside. They close the door.

No one talks to them after that, so nothing changes. Weeks later, a boy hits a baseball into their backyard. When he knocks on the door, he finds the house unlocked and empty. Everything but the walls and floor are gone.

No one saw them move out.

Matthew Maichen continues to write about sad things and women.

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