The wind blows soundlessly through the seeming void between objects in its relentless, unguided reflection of movement, its invisible transaction in the perpetual and progressive altering of states. At some point in the continuum, the soft brush of its passing moves through and beyond our globe, gently upsetting delicate and almost unquantifiable electromagnetic balances. Cows stomp their feet and low in the subtle agitation of their species, uncertain momentarily which way to face as they chew, huddling together in all manner of disarray, heads butting bony hindquarters, against the disruptive forces of the unknown beyond. The cities hum along in their rote activities, transport and commerce tireless in its industry. The dense thicket of humans, condensed into vertical and three dimensional enclaves, branching upward and out into the canopy of the atmosphere, senses little, if any, overt disturbance. Alcoholics set on stools in their accustomed midday dives perhaps sit up straight for a minute, looking about them blinking in consternation, uncertain of where the clairvoyance of cosmic disturbance lay. They order another drink, slumping back down into their slow girding for oblivion.
Near the intersection of 124th and Lenox Avenue, a girl on the cusp of adolescence stands against the wall on the sidewalk sobbing disconsolately into the palm of her hands. She bends at the knees, crouching over like the pain inside of her is almost too much to bear. Locals glance at her as they pass, uncertain whether to intrude or leave her to her personal and private turmoil. The heat and humidity of the day spurs them onward, however, everyone eager to escape the reflecting heat of the sidewalks and streets.
Lina is unaware, exactly, of what prompted this despair, so overwhelming that she could not stop it even out in the street in front of everybody. She had been walking home after hanging out in the park reading a random book she had picked out in the library. She had been attracted by its bright but melancholy cover; Love in the Time of Cholera. It was a bit confusing, but its descriptions were lovely, and she enjoyed its tragic romanticism. Sitting in the shade on a bench in the swamp-like heat of summer, she had felt transported physically into that unnamed tropical Caribbean city.
As Lina walks, she enjoys noticing details that normally don’t warrant a split second of attention, details that are oft taken for granted; cracks in the sidewalk that form like fissures from earthquakes; from what stress, from what shifting, breaking commotion did this particular crack arise? What moment in time gave to this panel of concrete its wrinkled, broken face? She traces the patterns of fire escapes with her eye, noting the juxtaposition of their diagonal descending with the horizontal steadfastness of rectangular windows. The cryptic splashes of graffiti, competing signs of territorial display, unintelligible except but to the underworld author and his nemesis. The constant urban battles of voices straining to be articulated out of invisibility, to stand out in the midst of the crowd, to be discovered, contested, to call and wait for a response out of the unknown.
She had been walking just like was her norm, reveling in the quiet details of her world, when she was stricken with the sense that all of what she could see was a farce, a mask of something completely alien and foreign to her understanding. For a moment, the veil was rent, and she gasped in terror at the vision of a universe of mute indifference to her personal, formative grasps at knowledge.
She was overwhelmed by a sense of utter, hopeless loss and despair. The tears came like a flood before she had even known what hit her, and she reeled, stumbling, over to the wall, barely conscious of the outside surface world any longer. All of the world, she felt, was suffering, was wave of pain after endless inarticulate pain, never to be overcome. She could only shudder in horrified acceptance, weeping in open defeat. Disconnected images flashed through her mind’s eye, seemingly connected only by the thread of her disassociating consciousness. Her mother, a tree, the local weather anchorman, a cruise ship, the planet earth from outer space, a dog she had seen yesterday, the postman, a brick wall, the texture of grapes, sliding, wet orbs of matter, a fungal infection of the skin. . .
Lina knew that nothing would ever be the same again. A breach in the everyday world had occurred. After a while, her sobs lessened in intensity, and just as quickly as it had come, her sorrow dissipated, leaving her hollow and tired. She blew her nose into a napkin and wiped around her eyes, looking shakily upwards into the deafening quiet of the sky. Birds twittered noisily in the harbor of a tree in an art deco apartment courtyard. She stepped back into the converging helical motions of the city.