Death Alley

December 5, 2007
By Grace Lazarz, West Lafayette, IN

Nothing smiles.

The sun mourns behind gray prison bars of clouds. Factories churn, spitting black into the bleak palette of the sky. Cars line the road, spewing more gloom into the thick air of the morning—evening? Afternoon, is it? It doesn’t matter; I can’t tell. The sullen buildings rise from the ground like tombstones from a graveyard. Shattered windows are the only ornaments of the towering buildings, daring to tell a story of vandalism.

And the people.

Walking, walking, walking—no purpose, sense of time. Clad in itchy gray tweed suits, their feet shuffle through the city. The same somber faces, with straight lines of mouths and ashen eyes cast down to observe the cement. Shadows flit across their faces, making their sharp bones prominent. They live in a wave, traveling from one point to the next and eventually die. But death means nothing; they haven’t even lived.

Reeking garbage fills the gaps in the places where there are no people, traffic, buildings. The smog-filled air clogs my throat; the icy wind claws my skin. A single sound emerges from the scene to fill my ears—the sound of shoe against pavement.

I pass an alley; a homeless man sits, a trembling hand barely holding on to a cigarette. A trash pile is built up around him like a crumbling castle. It seems to be his refuge. A grocery store is before me, the people leaning against graffiti-covered walls like bruised produce. Every watering eye screams hurt; every posture is slumped. Little pieces of human are left on the rims of their broken beer bottles.

A whimper escapes my dry lips. I drop deafly to my knees.

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