The Bystander

July 16, 2012
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In and out. In and out. His lungs echoed the years of that same function, wheezing and sucking in air like he’s lived only a second. His legs tremble as the cement sidewalk pounds against his worn bones. His feet feel disconnected, as usual, but something else is grabbing at them. Gravity has become the man’s enemy, his claws tugging at his knees. He swings his arms; he grabs the air, his legs deceived as they continue on walking. His face, declaring war upon the sidewalk, dive bombs onto the icy floor.

Thud.

Blackout.

Nothing.

You grasp yourself—there is an unwelcoming wind surrounding you and pulling at the tiny hairs around the base of your neck. You can hear your feet yell viciously up at you, furious because you could not afford the bus today. You feel yourself switch into auto pilot, aware that no one speaks the same language as you. Your expression takes on the color of the sidewalk, your thoughts block out the sound of the trees groaning and shivering along with you. You fail to recognize any others are sharing your route. They become ants, a swarm of black suits weaving and bumping their way through this anthill, and like most ants, carrying weights—invisible to any others—twice their size. Feet. Your eyes greet feet clad in buffed Italian leather humming a slightly slower tune than your own. You couldn’t summon the energy to give the owner of those shoes the decency of meeting his eyes for one second as the shoes hobble past.

Thud.

Your brow knits together and your lips squeeze one other. Your eyes meander to the left forcing your whole cranium to twist.

Red—blood?

This cannot be real. Who­; somebody; anybody, a nobody like you and everyone else. They all pretend not to see this emaciated, motionless island that floats atop a warm, crimson sea; nor do they stop or cry out or call.

And neither do you.





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