Whenever I think of her, a flower comes to mind. It's a cliché, I know, but just imagine the skin of a petal: smooth and tender, alive. She's like that, I don't just mean her appearance. It's that she exudes an intangible fragrance, drawing people her direction — which was unfortunate for all of us.

My father and I had been washing the dishes in the kitchen when the television displayed scenes of the parking house. Cars flew off the cement spirals they were never designed to leave, and they plunged with horrific abandon. "That's sick," my father said, and he handed me a dish to rinse. At that time I didn't let my mind jump to the image of the shattering destruction after the cars fell, when gravity was realized to its most heinous extent.

It was later that thoughts of the supermarket would float before me — the energy of children with shopping carts and the guiding hands and voices of parents. All a normal scene until the unthreatening figure stepped forth. Then I thought of the shininess of linoleum tiles; how very wrong it was that they should be coated with anything but dust and grime.

With a name like Yamamoto, you would have expected her to be Japanese. Her family was from Indonesia, and I never asked about the incongruence. It was the sort of family in which "family" had a capital "F," and there was no reason to capitalize the fourth letter in the word.

"I'm not like you; I can't do this," she once said. I wished for us to become spring blossoms, and float away into non-corporeality, not noticed by anyone.

I was driving, and it was like one of those awful dreams in which you're stuck in a vehicle that's rolling down the hill and you're in the driver's seat, alone, trapped, and gloriously lacking experience, skill, and any sort of license. Only now I could actually drive the car, albeit not well; and my experience came from being a pedestrian. And the overriding thought: "I have to get home." Do you know the moment of precognition when you're standing on the sidewalk, staring at the light and you just know that if you start walking, it will change to "walk" as soon as your feet have stepped off the curb and past the gutter? It doesn't apply to drivers. Red and green are distinct, with no yellow between them — not when you're tapping your finger on the wheel, waiting to move. A car is such a huge thing too, and there's no backstep you can make. So as the metal monster roared forward with the shock of red in my eyes, I hoped desperately that the police would not come. There would no explaining this. But it went undocumented in the eyes of the law.

Talking, laughing, walking. Those things fit so well together. You aren't halted by so many awkward pauses as on the telephone, or even sitting in real life. The city was awake with bright reds and greens and oranges outshining the hazy black canopy. No clocks were in sight; we didn't even notice. This was not the day told me she had a dangerously mentally ill brother.

A pay phone rang. I was without inhibitions. He wanted to talk to her; she waved her hands no and backed away. Furiously shaking her head, she said nothing.

She had said she wasn't like me, couldn't. Now she was, could. I grabbed her hand and we climbed into the garage with unexaggerated urgency. How long would it take, I wondered her family to see that a capital "I" wouldn't change the spelling?

We crouched behind a crate. This was the attic of a garage, which made it filled with old storage, low-ceilinged, and terrifyingly close to the street.

If I reached out and touched her, she was there. Tangible and real. Garage attics are no made to be soundproof, so we could not talk, but she hugged me. We could not leave.

I imagined him walking outside on the sidewalk, glancing up at the garage and stepping with the decided carefreeness he had affected when he had entered that supermarket. His eyes steely, he would not forget his blossom.