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Lights

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There’s too much noise in this place, too many people. It’s polluted here, with dirty puddles like cuts in the earth and the air heavy with smoke. So much traffic and unheard screams and howling sirens somewhere along the street. I sleep with these sirens.




There are no stars where I’m from. When the sun goes down there is one second where everything is dark, like the city is holding its breathe. Everything is quiet. And then, one at a time, a light turns on. It happens while you’re walking. Scattered street lights shine and give the buildings color. The bridge stretches across the river and lights string along it, reflecting off of glass. Sometimes I walk alone in the streets, trying to get lost. I walk past a man leaning on the brick wall of an apartment building. His face is covered by a hoodie but I can feel his eyes on my back. I walk past the school playground, rain clinging to the swaying swing set. I cross the train tracks, where a kid from school put his headphones in his ears, laid his head on the tracks and waited for the train to come.

I go back into the small cluster of trees where the street lights don’t reach. Back where kids sit on fallen tree logs to have a smoke. The dead, wet leaves lay flat staining the ground with paint. Shattered beer bottles are cluttered everywhere. I make my way through the trees until I am on the outskirts of the city, where there are no street lights. There is a dim parking garage just outside of the trees. It is empty and lonely and is only used now by kids who want to skip school. I go through the entrance, my sneakers echoing on the pavement. One of the pillars collapsed in the corner, leaving a hole in the ceiling. A group of kids left a ladder leading up through the hole at some point. I climb it, my steps shaking. I pull myself up and walk over to the edge of the roof and sit down, my legs dangling off the edge. I have the perfect view of the lights. They are giant veins, flowing through the city. The skylight stretches on forever and I can feel rain. This is when the city wakes up.



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