The City – Kyle Kirshbom
April 23, 2021
Along a sidewalk, a young woman walks. She moves forward. She is neither tall nor very short, and her age is roughly early twenties, perhaps late teens. Her hair is blond and shoulder length, with a small violent knot mangled at the bottom.
Apart from this young woman, the street is empty. It is a fairly long, narrow street, stretching several miles ahead and behind. Around her are many buildings, roughly thirty stories tall, which line the edges of both sides of the street with no more than nine feet between each building where the alleys are formed. These small middle passages where the light barely shines through.
It is raining, and a very poor day. The sun is barely visible through the thick clouds that are either called Nimbostratus or Cumulonimbus. It is very windy outside, and the rain is falling at an exaggerated, abrasive angle.
But then suddenly, at irregular intervals the rain will stop. This goes on indefinitely, and on, and so it goes.
Quiet again. And the windows on the buildings bounce sunlight off their wet surface. At first it produces what appears like a great dance, and one cannot help but imagine that the city and the rain are working in tandem. However, being separate entities, their collision is neither harmonious nor beautiful.
Further ahead the woman’s slim figure is less clear even under the sun’s warm yellow spotlight. She walks forward, at an even pace, and little odd-shaped footsteps are imprinted on the sidewalk. Her pale, bright hair appears lacerated by the sunlight.
But then, just as sudden, the city immediately breaks into violent showers again, and the image of the young woman can hide under the rainshower. Her footsteps take more distinct shape, and the faintness of her scent becomes more crisp.
Her leather boots step through pockets of water on the pavement and make little dents in the ground that quickly fill up and spill behind her pace. She doesn’t show signs of struggle nor discomfort while she walks through a torrential rain shower. Her face is focused, perhaps anxiously. Her tiny wet knot tightens through the low depression.
Various, seemingly random lights illuminate along the sides of every building, but nothing can be determined as to what actions are taking place inside each individual room. If not for the rain, everything would be visible. One could only imagine what sort of activities were taking place. But as of now, just the lights and the heavy water vapor smudged against glass.
To her left, a reflection glides along the building’s first floor windows. Taller, maybe 4 inches above the young woman’s head, and horribly disfigured. The amorphous, hollow shape quietly creeps over and slightly behind the young woman.
And everything is loud; the rain hitting the pavement, the concrete, the glass, and her moving body.
In front, and all around her in fact, is a thick layer of rainwater. Her boots step into the water. One boot lifts and steps again into another wave that is covered once again behind her. Even the slightest nuance in her step is washed away. As if they never existed and could never be traced back.
The young woman looks straight ahead. She pulls her left anorak sleeve up. It looks as if she’s checking her watch, but she does not have one on. She puts her arm down again, stiffer than it was before. And she doesn’t so much as glance at the gliding reflection on the building beside her, as tall and disfigured as it is. Is she even inclined to turn around and see how much distance she has made? She continues on her way at an increasingly rapid pace through pouring rain.
Little splashes in the water, bigger than the many rain droplets hitting off the already flooded surface, growing in diameter, seemingly connected, the faster the young woman walks forward on the sidewalk.
On the young woman’s right a single car drives slowly, but carefully through the flooded roads. Driving parallel to the young woman, in the same direction, about 10 feet away from her. But, as the driver is not moving very fast, the woman appears to be walking ahead of them. While the rain destroys their entire field of vision her path is more untraceable, every step she makes is covered by the pouring rain.
The water becomes more rapid, and the car’s tires spin faster through the flooding street.
And as her pace increases the car drives faster. The driver, whose features can’t be made out through the rain slicked windows, appears to be gripping their steering wheel with fear and anticipation.
Then, 10 seconds later, the severe downpour worsens. Sirens wail over the city, possibly to warn of a potential hurricane. The driver has his window half-down and has turned his mouth into an O shape, seemingly screaming or gesticulating something toward the young woman, or perhaps just at the general area. Lights coming off the car barely pierce through the thick rain and fog. But she does not respond, nor does she seem to have even noticed them at all. She continues walking, increasing her steps, forwardly in the middle of the sidewalk.
However, just as a sudden look of recognition passes over the woman’s face, the car immediately makes a right turn at the intersection and speeds off. Before long it is in a completely separate area of the city, a hundred or so yards in the opposite direction of the young woman.
Her shoulders pulsate up and down. She breathes into her palms. Her anorak now over the head, she makes a sharp left into the nearest alley. A creamy vanilla, and woody patchouli fragrance trails just behind her.
On the right, on the side of the level, motionless skyscraper, a deep, thick shadow distorts her completely.
But then, as her scent is strongest, the clouds part, light filters through the alley, and the young woman’s body turns clockwise. Her left arm swings in a pendulum-like motion.
A short, serrated knife bounces on the concrete. Rain and blood coalesce. The sounds of running-paced footsteps fade from out the alley, and the woman’s scent lingers, but only slightly.
As the clouds in the steel blue sky begin to part, sunlight reaches through the alley, and the cacophony of the city sets in.