Thursday, March 25, 2010

Ruined City

I sit in the backseat of a car, the deep red plush fabric of the seats are dim in the night. A young woman is in the driver’s seat, her hands gripping tightly on the wheel. Her pale skin, her long light brown hair, they are colors and shapes that dance on the edges of my vision as I lean forward, looking into the night that casts everything in its dark cloak.
I am leaning forward, my body pushing on the firm restraint of a seatbelt, its promise of safety meaningless in the scene before me. Within the car, the pungent smell of adrenaline mixes with the noxious fumes of exhaust, sulfur and fear.
We are alone on this road. Alone in the stillness of this night. I stare through the spotted windshield to a scene of wreckage. My breathing is shallow, and though both car windows are closed, the cold night air finds the skin of my cheeks.
A freeway ramp climbs before us. A gentle incline rises and rises, then curves slightly to the left, headed towards the city that lies beyond the black bay. The two-lane ramp is pock-marked with the craters of dropped bombs, and the raised rings around the small mounds of asphalt continue to crumble. Around each crater are small chunks of tar, tiny pebbles, and fine black dust. The craters dot both lanes liberally, the remains of tiny bombs that fell here some time ago.
Beyond the ramp, rising from the dark city below that casts not one light, is a nearly destroyed building. The intact side still smooth and angular, a remnant of a no-nonsense style of architecture that focused on function and efficiency in a space that was densely populated. But half of the building is gone, a monstrous bite into the hard flesh of its structure. Spikes of rebar and electrical wire spill from the chunks of crumbling gray concrete. What’s left of it is at least twenty stories high, though it seems close to collapsing.
Despite its devastation, there are signs of life in the building, little yellow signals that speak silently into the night. Half a dozen windows in the intact section glow, sending out the message that there are still those that breathe in the forgotten mess.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Living Room

She lay on a soft couch, its velvety-plush cushions lovingly accepting her weight, like a firm cloud made of tan fabric. She stretched across its length, her arms at her sides, both of them heavy with the push of gravity. Her head rested on the padded arm of the sofa, the firmness of its end protected by a plush blood-red chenille pillow. The pillow held her like an open palm, and her head tilted slightly towards her left shoulder. Pale white afternoon light fell in through the curtain-less windows, coming through clear windows and filtered by a sky covered in thick layers of white clouds. Her eyes opened and closed on the brink of sleep, slowly closing to the darkness that was the shade of her eyelids, then opening to the soft light that filled the living room. The room was painted a faint shade of green, on the wall to the left of the couch were the framed drawings of a child, a cat, a vase of flowers. On the wall to her left was the giant flat-screened tv that nearly covered the wall. Its screen was black and three remotes sat on the narrow table just below it. Coming from the right of the couch, about twenty feet away, was the gentle sound of an acoustic steel guitar. It’s gentle slow-tempo plucking sung to her like a lullaby, pulling her like gossamer threads to another world. It came from the basement, where two computers hummed and scatters of papers littered the wooden floor. The simple notes bounced off of the chrome refrigerator and the long marble countertop of the kitchen which shared the same room as the couch. Towards her left, coming in an out of her consciousness, sprinkled in like a well orchestrated composition, were the sounds of two little boys, shrieking in the grass yard beyond the French doors of the living room. They came like high-pitched birds, exploding in sounds at rapid intervals. There were the demanding commands of one, the higher pitched response of the other. Every now and then was the sharp pop of a plastic gun. It rang against the glass windows and rattled the brass doorknob of the French door. Muted words mixed with soft notes and the gentle light, and her eyelids closed once again.