He lied. The city didn’t kill him; he arrived already dead and staggering through the streets. And those were unhappy streets, unlit, an impossibly long runway on which a plane might roar relentlessly forward but never quite leave the ground. Listen to the clump, clump from where the tarmac grows unevenly. It tells you a story.
The story begins with his arrival, and I was sick of him already, sick of his legends and his vagabond gods. He tells me about the morning and the crow with a woman’s voice screaming from the tree beside his window. He wanted me to believe it was a portent of disaster. That is what he said, there was a woman in the tree.
But whether the woman was real or not is no small matter. So he lay there, the wind pushing through the perforated screen and along with it, the voice that took form and covered his mouth, covered his nose. He said he suffocated finely, he said it took a long time to die on his back, years on his back just trying to breathe.
I thought this city had killed him with its impossibly long and narrow streets that transported one from nowhere to nowhere because he told me, a long time ago, before I grew to loathe him, that it had broken into the one bright sanctuary in his heart and stolen the dear subconscious treasures within it. That is what he said.
How I hated him for showing me the darkness, that terrible corner inside everyone where subconscious treasures go to become sullied, dirtied, rendered unrecognizable. Maybe we all die on our backs eventually, trying to live, just as we all divide into separate hims and Is. He arrived and I departed, carried by one plane.
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