Chemicals in the air.

The sun is blinding me as the cold forces my fists deep into my lined pockets. I'm walking into her, as she sets softly behind the Tall White Arches of the science center and eventually the Olympic Mountains will envelop her. The fleeting warmth of sun fading into the clear late winter night. 1962 World's Fair relics frame her golden laser beams.

I squint, my Brow Furled. Deepening the lines between my eyes. Why can't my "laugh lines" be the first to form? These are lines of concentration. Concern.

As I dip under the freeway, on that long stretch of sidewalk on The Mess between Dexter and 5th, I smell something in the air.

I expect to smell bodily fluids escaped from last nights exploits. The drunken smell of Bourbon Street the morning after. Of alleys in Pioneer Square. Toxic and rising.

I expect to smell car exhaust, as vehicles are trapped en route. As drivers brake and go and brake and go. Feet hovering over the gas pedal. Gears shifting. Lights metering the traffic through.

Then I realize what it is. I'm walking along a wall of gray paint over gray concrete. It has been painted out. Layers of stories, erased, covered, gone. Clean. Yet, toxic. Volatile organic compounds looming under the highway. Along the mess.

Quieting as she sets. The underpass further darkens. All that's left is that scent. The scent of chemicals in the air.