The fading light beckoned as a siren luring one to the shore. He rose from the desk, worn as a much loved pair of jeans, and grabbed the thin coat hanging on the door. He glided noiselessly down the flight of stairs that deposited him directly out the front door of the apartment complex. The walkway glowed from the mass of humanity surrounding him as he walked. Here was programmed chaos, the bustle and promise of humanity’s potential. Though the hour was getting late, he could still smell the prepared foods to fortify the relentless search for elusive truths. Each window passed made its own special performance as it highlighted hidden rituals and public habits. A stranger or a friend would occupy the same territory at certain moments but the man’s attention was pulled into his thoughts and thus the two danced by without sound or notice. Stopping at the corner, he swiped his head left and right. Satisfied at the ability for the moment’s pause, he reached into the right hand of his black jeans and grabbed the mp3 player and headphones wrapped together. He freed the device from its self made restraints and stuck the earbuds, first the left then right into his ears. He cycled for a bit, found a particular favorite and pushed play. The light made its pre-programmed turn and he was able to advance forward. The music filled his head with its light but propulsive melodies. It swelled, overloading his brain and body, until it soon could no longer do anything but escape recklessly into the outside world. When the words came, it followed the path created until both formed an invisible cloud of companionship that dutifully followed him as a small child to the mother.
The dull monotonous buildings of the college were replaced by the more uneven but beautiful concepts of the surrounding town. The land sloped and he was grateful to be traveling on the downward trend. Here the light was spottier, the streetlights passed like a baby’s fingers, eager in their perceived authority but weak in execution. The rural town was rapidly being cloaked in the cling of the expected nighttime but was the more beautiful for it. He couldn’t help but be reminded of the prom date coming down the staircase for the first time or the bride being revealed by the opening of the double doors to the church’s congregation. History may have ultimately favored the closeness and frantic hum of the city, but the town square stood strong in silent fortitude and ghostly pride. But his fortunes were yet further on, and though impressed by its will of courage, stubbornness was something he had in abundance and was thus not the company he was striving for. It took a few more minutes before he reached the outer edges of the town signaled by the vast expanses of land currently emptied but soon to be hidden by the annual commodities of survival. Here he found it again, the small plowed field that must have been the territory of some close by farmstead. The tiny earthen oasis was boxed, about eight feet by eight, enough to stretch out the limbs but not much more. A number of months previously, he had quite literally stumbled upon the area while he was standing back up after tripping over some unseen hazard by the side of the road hugging the outskirts of the community. It immediately struck him just how unusual it was to see this relatively tiny area of land, given its apparently weekly earthen haircut, yet never utilized for its bounty. It wasn’t that the land couldn’t support anything, as it was surrounded on all sides by a border of corn in the summer and autumn months and only matching the surroundings when the winter came with its cold fury. But while it was constantly in a state of ready preparedness, it stood abandoned like the gangling kid losing his date to the quarterback at the high school dance. It didn’t help that there was nothing to see in either direction, making the person or persons who would perform the surgery consistently to this piece of land even more mysterious in their origin or purpose. He had traveled here often over the last few months, determined to catch or at least discern some reasoning behind this scene, but no matter when he came it appeared the same, as if time had chained itself in place here.
Now, in the darkness, it took on an even more jarring and alien appearance. He killed the music player, returning it to its resting place and removing his phone from the other pocket. Using the illumination from the tiny screen, he crossed the road and stood in the middle of the area. It was still early enough in the season that the crops had yet to peak above the horizon in sufficient height so his view around was total. The moon was too timid to greet the crowd as of yet, so when he banished the phone to his pocket, the only illumination was from the small cluster of stars in the heavens. He thought, being as close to the road as it was, that surely he would be visited by the rumble of a vehicle, but here too logical thoughts were thwarted by unusual practicalities. The road stayed as silent as he was now, too awed in his quizzical apprehensions about what all this meant. He had been standing now for a few minutes, but something made him gravitate towards the ground, sitting at first but feeling still further compelled to lay down completely on his back. His new point of view was even more unnerving in its lack of visible perspective to latch onto. There was solely a limitless sky, now filling with more stars waking from their naps. They twinkled, as if laughing to each other over some inside joke. Everything around him speaking in imperceptible tongues, his feeling of hopeless despair was so great that he couldn’t help but yell out, “But why?! Why is this here? What is this? Surely someone can tell me why this is here?!” But silence was and continued to be the incoming message received. There were no answers in this mysterious, unknown place. And then he smiled, for that was the answer all along.
©2016 Daniel Cuthbert