The Harbinger

A woman died today. A 60-story building stood unmoved in her wake. I imagine the nascent rays of the day finding her where she lay. I imagine the turmoil and resoluteness with which she left the world. And I wilt. 

I torture myself with false futures when silence leases space for my mind to wander. There’s no part of my tandem heart that accepts the idle threats of my anxieties, but there’s a scant part of it that needs to feel that other worlds are worth inhabiting. So I know.

The irony of the moment stirs a wild thing in me. Because I possess some sinister, masochistic urge to plant myself where you were born – the same place she died. I fantasize about a life that’s little more than a cortege of the one you easily discarded. To walk the streets you walked, to sleep to the sounds you know, to carry on the life you didn’t want. In the absence of you, I’d climb into the husk you left in some deplorable attempt to still know you. 

There’s something melancholic about the idea of it all. You swallowed in buildings so tall you have to look up to see the clouds. Buildings tall enough to kill you. You’re intimately familiar with its curves and its crannies. Dipping into dark restaurants, gliding down packed streets, linking and disconnecting with people who are littered like dandelion seeds across a city that lives more in the sky than on the ground. It’s so romantic a notion, it makes me blush. It’s so wistful an idea, it makes me wilt. 

Life is but a salty wind grating against our unfledged skin. The world its harbinger. And even the most beautiful among us, the most fortunate, the most loved sometimes choose not to meet February. A diamond in your hand will sparkle with indelible brilliance but it will still cut your flesh. And as the years fall away and the excuses for innocence with them, we must teach ourselves to make peace with the tradeoffs of our desires lest we succumb to them. 

Eden froze and the orchard died and soot covered the world. And we’re hopeful little creatures digging in the dirt to unearth our pound of flesh. Some people jump and others make plans but all of us are doing the same thing; we’re staring with wild wonder at the things we have found and can’t bear to lose and trying not to mar them with our human wickedness. We’re consoling ourselves for tripping on the axis of the Earth. We’re averting our gaze from these things that seek to subdue us. We’re all promising ourselves that something else is out there, somewhere, so that we don’t have to sit with the knowledge that things are here for a moment and then they are gone.

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