Colour bleeds across the sky, and that’s how I know it’s summer. A livid scar, from the never dying city. It’s been like this since I was born, and even in the depths of winter, the scar still hangs. I lie on my front yard, looking up. Some already doubt the moon, hidden by ichor-stained clouds, but the moon exists, regardless. The grass is cool, and the dirt is firm. I try to find the moon in the sky, but it remains hidden amongst the fire. My eyes still watch the moving clouds, but soon enough the earth calls, and I am dragged to sleep. Above, the moon laughs. It can’t be seen, but it’s up there, forever amused.
He kneels in the dark shower, silent except for thuds echoing from the tile and along the glass. Occasionally, the light of passing cars leak through the overhead window, setting a glow down into the shower before fading. When it happens, he stops, lowering his arms, and stares up into the faint orange light illuminating the grey walls. Soon it passes, and he returns to striking the tile wall, one blow after another. His knuckles burn, but he’s been burned before. He’s got things to do, a family to protect, so he kneels in a shower at night, and lets his fists fly, because one day it’ll come to a fight. He won’t hesitate then. Eventually, he stands up, dusts his knuckles, and walks off to bed.
Valentina huddled under the stoop, watching the rain pour down. Lightning darted across the sky, giving the scenery around her an ethereal flash of purple. Soon enough, a crackle resounded in the air. The momentary shot of everything becoming electric before returning to dark with only a ghost in her vision left her trembling with laughter. She stood in a force of nature, surrounded by power, and it let something loose in her. It was like standing on the edge of a cliff, and looking down, down, down. In that flash, she could feel her beginning and ending, see herself fade in the bright light before coming back. She was standing in the pouring rain, and enjoying the best light show she could get. Fireworks had nothing on this.
It was a balmy summer night in the neighborhood. Tate had come back from her parents’ dictated private school, so we were all taking a walk around our home. I was taking in the crisp air with a cigarette, and it was all right. We passed by some street lights with the light flickering on, and off, and on. The five of us walked past gas stations, sharing stories, convictions, and laughing into the night. The time was almost endless. Sure, soon enough, I’d be walking back home to bruises and Lee’d need to go back to finding jobs to raise his baby brother, but for now it was just us walking among identical houses under a red sky. Taking what youth we could, while we still had the chance.
From here I can look up into the small lights scattered across the sky like freckles.
'How's it finally sitting on the roof?'
'Like I wished. The meteors are bright tonight.'
'One day they're going to hit this planet.'
'Yeah. But for now, let's sit and watch.'
Looking up makes me think of the dinosaurs, wondering if they thought the meteors were beautiful as they hailed death. The sound of our feet go thump, thump, against the roof edge. I had a rhyme for the meteors since I was little: ‘I’d sit on the roof if I could, ‘cos I wish I were the moon’. They shine, blinding and free. One day they’ll destroy all of us, but for now, they make a nice view.
Let me tell you, child. I know not when, but there will come a time when you walk through the city streets, and it will be one of those nights. Hear the hounds strain from their chains, and feel the wet grime of the cobbled streets through your shoes, and you’ll know. When the air is thick with darkness you can choke on, it’s there. You’ll feel it. Pay enough attention, and you might start to hear soft thuds down the winding alleys, an echoing collision of chains, a shudder of breath coupled with the patient drip of hunger. You don’t try to light something then, no. You stare into the darkness, child, and when it stares back, you run.
It couldn’t have been any later than 4:00. I’d been driving for hours now, with semi-bleary vision closing in. The road was only illuminated in front of me, the sky hanging dark blue. The moon waited above, cutting a light through the clouds. The windows of my car were up to shield from the running wind, cold and biting. A shaky tune, seemingly dragged out from the night played through the radio static, and my finger tapped along on the steering wheel. Occasionally,a sign goes by, shining against the dark. I had no specific destination... I was simply searching, journeying through the earliest morning. Moving past bright city lights and catching stars when I could. The music continued, and I let out a whistle to the deep tune.
The city whines under the starlight. A familiar cacophony of cars, music, and banging clutter of the street blankets around me, This city’s a flame, devouring the right kind of soul, and I’m in the belly. It’s another night of work, with me tracking down the details of a murder. They keep on coming, and I keep providing. I’ve lit a cigarette, a testament to the city... The streets get cold at night, but that’s what my coat is for, sitting heavy on my shoulders like the darkness. The loneliness... not much can stay that, just part of the job. A car flies by, and my cigarette has gone out. I’d light another, but I’m damn out of matches. That’s how it is, though, on these lonely, lonely, lonely nights...
The van came to a halt at the end of the dirt road.
‘Well, shit,’ I said. ‘I guess I’m walking.’
At the very least, I was in a forest. The darkness was thick, but I had a bottle of stolen candlelight. In the distance, I could hear a babbling brook, whispering secrets of the night. Moving away from the van, the forest closed in on us, bare bits of light from the full moon seeping through leaves. That’s how forests work, of course. Get them at the right time, and odd things happen. The bark of the trees morph into messages, and the creatures soon tell that a stranger’s among them. The woods know, and they don’t let their secrets easy. But neither do witches.
It was ten in the evening when my love came home. I’d been busy all day mapping out our plans, so seeing her walk through the doorway was a relief. Our house was no less small and cramped than everyone else’s, but it was home all the same.
‘Hey,’ you said, walking over to my side, ‘Let’s dance. You did some work today, Kit.’
We’d been dancing more now, as a way to relax from the day’s work. The radio crackled, weathered but clear enough, and we went along to soft guitar. After some time, we paused in front of the corkboard and our only window, looking out over the dark city. Tonight we danced, but soon enough, revolution would be coming.
It’s nights like these that Ell stands out on the balcony and looks out into the moonlit sea. The light drifting across the waves against the dark sea had always stirred something deep in her. It was this view she kept in her head through every frustration, every cut and bruise. It was what she fell asleep to, imagining the water shifting and turning insides the confines of her head. She kept the scene, fighting through life all the way until she had it right outside her window. And it’s on these nights, with the question now what? swimming in her mind instead, that she looks out, out to the silent sea for answers.
We meet at the birth of the night, sending each other love letters over thousands of miles of telephone lines. The room is quiet except for the creaks from my old computer, but I can hear you just fine. We’ve become conjoined in the early morning darkness, comforting each other in our shared loneliness. Sometimes we do nothing but appreciate the company in the textured silence of the night. The black sky hangs outside my window, and shadows of the trees wave in the cold breeze. The soft glow of my monitor lies overhead with the increasing drowsiness, and I rest my head on my desk to sleep.
Florence sat on the dark, damp sand of the beach, and saw. Her house was a ways off, a glowing speck up on higher land. The black sky above was expansive, nearly devouring the land below and swallowing Florence whole. The infinite specks of light in the sky shuddered as the deep ocean tide lapped against the shore, and when she recorded it, Florence could see silver and sneaking shadows. The air was cool and fresh on her skin as she let herself disappear. Countless stars of immeasurable size reduced to dots on an expanse she’ll never know. Under that endless weight, Florence lets go.
I remember the long nights when I’d stay up in my basement home, lying on my sleeping bag nestled between table and couch, watching the numbers on my DVD player’s clock tick up and up. Sleeping there was a privilege for summer nights, with me racing down the carpeted stairs after dinner, when the sun was finally swallowed by the surrounding trees and suburban homes. Sometimes I’d wake up in the dead hours, other times I’d stay up silently waiting for the muffled voices of my parents above to fade as they went to sleep upstairs. Regardless, my time was often spent entertaining the soft glow of my old television screen, occasionally looking out to my small window and learning to tell time by the red colour of the sky.