Trying a looser style.
We arrived at a city we’d never heard of, but they called it a city and at first we believed that and walked in hopeful with large eyes open to whatever wonders it may have held. He quickly learned better but I took longer to see. At first the height and shine of everything impressed me, impressed me and made me hope this was a city like I’d heard and not just another outpost between rocks like the little voice in the back of my mind cynically believed it would prove, I should have listened harder. Cynicism has rarely let me down but hope often has. They called me a pessimistic, sad child but really I just hated being disappointed and, learning how to become disappointed less frequently, resolved always to avoid disappointment and live peacefully and quietly with my grayed outlook.
This city was not a city, just an imitation of one, with its tall, shiny buildings and busy streets, but busy only because there were no other streets and nowhere else to go. The entire thing clustered around a bus station with many busy buses like caterpillars lined up to help people escape the drab, ugly place. Dainty little things decorated the area around the bus stop, impractical bagel shops and decaffeinated coffee cafes selling sugar. They’d said it was a city but it was more like a collection, a miniature little wooden display of a city with tiny impractical jeweled shops scattered between shiny identical towers.
Describing my morning coffee.
Veins thin as spider’s silk float on liquid the color of cinnamon and dry earth. Flecks of a darker brown freckle the surface. All that heady earth tone makes it seem solid, yet the slightest movement, even the tapping of the keys, reveals its soft, insubstantial nature. I could fall into that warm pool and never re-emerge.
Reflecting on when I moved across the country.
It begins in the East with low marshes smelling of rot and berries, bogs full of juicy floating jewels. Short trees shade brief snakes intertwining on the unstable muck of forest floors that stretch low and long, sprouting legends that lurk under boughs. Here in these low lands everything may be true. Only as the land rises up, wringing out its moisture, do the bog myths dry out. The mountains are not mountains, but that’s what we call them, we who grew up in marshes and bogs. On the other side lies a drier land, dry and flat and parched, unchanging, unwrithing, and I find myself longing for snakes and stories. This is a nowhere place – not bog, not middle, not West – so when the enthralling vastness of flat land smooths the horizon like an iron I am glad. I watch the scene out the window, a painting standing still while I rush by. Such stillness seems unnatural and yet here it stretches, forever and eternal. It never began and never ends and occasionally like outposts, like proofs of life, a scar digs into the flat red scab of land, a vein filled with secret, bloody colors: purple, blue, orange, rust. The scars become buttes, protrusions and earthen statues. They rise and the green fingers of life trickle up them. A sudden interruption on the horizon. A bracket closing in this timeless place. We rise so abruptly I’m gasping for air. I get a rough education in mountains and height. I understand how little I understood. Snow is not only for winter, low lander. My hands are white, like snow-capped peaks. We tumble down into this land where everything is green and tall and impossible. There are hard and solid truths here built of stone and bedrock. Myths stalk the heights, large lumbering things that surprise no one. The West bursts out of the ground like an Eden and I’m forced to evaluate my worthiness. I don’t belong, but I can pretend. They make us hard and unsurprised down in the bogs where legends lurk.
The chicken watched me from across the yard. How did she always know?
I ignored her and continued my chores. At least the cows didn’t care what I’d done last night.
The chicken followed me as I made my rounds. I felt her beady black eyes on me. One of the cows nuzzled my shoulder and I tried to return my focus to their food trough. But soon I felt her watching me again.
I couldn’t stand it. I threw down the feed and spun toward her.
“What? Ok. I did it. I saved the princess without you. I didn’t have time to wake you. You were sleeping and all the others were around and…”
She didn’t listen to my rant. My confession complete, the chicken turned her back to me and strut back to her roost.
Brown stones ringed a pond freckled with lily pads. Her foot slipped into the clear water. She walked down slippery stones until her toes met the sand in the bottom of the shallow pond. With the grace of a swan coming to land, she lowered her body into the water, her hair floating around her in smoky wisps.
First word of sentence must be the last word of the preceding sentence.
He walked up the stairs. Stairs that wound up the tower facing the West.
The West spread out below him as he exited the tower. Towers of rock, flat buttes and broad expanses of sun-bleached sand stretched to the horizon. Horizons can deceive, however.
However he tried, he could not see through the mirage, though he knew it was there. There should have been a city out there – steel beams, shining buildings, flying machines. Machines to take care of all the day-to-day annoyances of life. Life had found a way to become pleasant, simple, uncomplicated, but that peace could not last long.
Long, dark clouds gathered overhead. Overhead, the storm gathered. Gathered strength and lightning and rumbled toward the city.
The city would fall.
I left the window open and awaited the assassin. They called themselves spies, but everyone knew what they really were.
I took my breaths slowly, trying to hang on to the moment. How much longer would I get to breathe in the breeze off the gulf? I’d put this window here when building my house so I would face the gulf first thing in the morning and see it as I fell asleep to the sound of the water lapping against the city. It would remain long after the assassin came for me.
I watched the moon waver on the water and waited.