The City

May 20, 2011
By September BRONZE, Burlington, Connecticut
September BRONZE, Burlington, Connecticut
2 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Time is laughing in my face. It stands infuriatingly still as the car jerks across a broad-shouldered, grimacing highway. Asphalt spits dusty chaos across rusted doors, and faux leather interior design reeks of a false womb. My feet are propped against the passenger side dashboard, my toes painted a defiant scarlet. Although, this is unfitting, I think, because I am hiding in a womb.

The weight of the whole world is on this highway, a thousand lives supported solely on these broad, rippling shoulders of a lifeless servant. For an endless, distilled moment, I want it to truly come alive. I want the beast to burst from the earth, an indescribably enormous body of pounded black rock, a yellow paint spine. I want it to flail and twist and storm, storm, smashing everything it can feel because it will have no eyes, so it will be blind. It will be a rage so pure and so deep that humans cannot understand it, this beautiful rage. A transportation nightmare, the apocalypse is here.

But this moment does pass, despite its empty promises of anarchy. And as it leaves my body, heading toward the car behind us, it claims that bit of soul that it had inhabited. For every minute that I am alive, another nugget of my soul is stolen by the grim reaper Time. And these minutes get fat and rich and happy, and the humans, we die. When the last scrap of our souls are ripped from the inner umbilical cord that sustains us, we simply unravel, from the inside out.

It doesn’t matter right now, though, because the new moment is here. It drapes its glimmering, paper-thin being across my shoulders. Its palm presses against the top of my skull and its long, lanky fingers rest across my face. They curl themselves around my cheeks and twist my head in the direction of the waiting window. Standing on the side of the highway is a man. His soul is ragged and eroded. There is not much left, and it shows in every physical characteristic he owns. I study his face, letting the sudden feeling that this moment, above all others, is immensely important surge through me like irrevocable passion.

I memorize the way his skin falls around his mouth. It is soft and grayish, tugging at the tired corners of his chapped lips. Deep lines, adamant riverbeds, run almost all the way down his face. They are scars, left behind by minutes that stole chunks of his soul he wasn’t ready to let go of. He had fought those minutes, but they had won, they always do, and so they carved their victory marks into his skin, and he wears his shame.

But this is nothing interesting. This is just age and life and Death. What is interesting is his eyes. They hide in a cave of soft, wrinkled skin. A sharp nostalgia gushes from them, and I know they were once bright, but now they are dim like the hazy smog of the city. But they see me, and the understanding that I can see the secrets of Time is nearly frightening. They speak to me in the ticking, suspended seconds. They let a weak stream of their darkness trickle in through my window.

Suddenly, the moment leaps from my back and I let the emptiness settle in the wounded corner of my soul. I look out the window, but I only see him unraveling for a second, because the car passes where he is standing on the side of the road. I gingerly touch the place where the darkness was on the window and study my face in the rearview mirror. The seconds ring like laughter in my ears.

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