She walked through the Commons to the Gardens and sat on the bench they'd sat on while watching the swan boats, Marci's bag at her feet like a faithful dog. Shivering, JC stared at the edge of the pond; her eyes followed the stray reflections of light on its surface. She walked over to the pond. At her feet was a feather, and she stooped to pick it up. She held it against the streetlights and looked carefully at the whiteness of each spur and the ivory white of the stiff spine. With a quick snap of the hand she tossed the feather and watched it sink wanderingly in the air until it settled on the water. She turned on her heel, grabbed the bag, and walked out of the Gardens.
The subway was a quiet racket and she let its gentle sway keep her mind blank. She didn't even bother to look over the night water of the bay at Charles Street Station. She caught a Red Line and got off at Harvard. Of course the church was locked, and for a moment the fact that she wouldn't be able to touch the statue one more time shivered her with pain. She sat for a while on a bench near the Charles River, watching the lights of the passing cars etch the water, and then walked over one of the bridges to the highway and then along the highway until she saw the entrance to the Massachusetts Turnpike. JC leaned against the concrete base of a streetlight and without the slightest hesitation stuck out her thumb.
She was numb inside, as dark as the darkness of the sky, and the image of herself standing there with her thumb out gave her a sad pleasure. Marci would have fully approved. The important thing now was to get out fast and get back to home as quickly as possible. Lin had said it took eight hours to get to Ithaca -- with luck, she'd be home before her mother had to leave. She felt like the snow inside a glass paperweight.
Much to her surprise, a large truck, hauling a trailer that looked as long as a city block, pulled over to give her a ride. She stared at the truck for a moment, not readily recognizing the connection between her small thumb and this huge panting beast. Then, as if to make up for lost time and scared that it would leave, she scooped up her bag and ran toward the door that opened for her. She disappeared into the cab and the truck grunted up to speed and pulled away.
Under the hissing blue electric light was a long thin swan feather.