Writing

Short Story: Cities

I have this thought that cities are living things. Visit one, and you get this sense of what they are and how they are; open, warm, desperate, forgotten… As soon as I realized this, I began to notice better how people took in the city’s mood and its needs and became part of it. It was fantastic, reminding me of ants and termites, making me wonder if we had a more collective side to us than we are ready to admit. I followed the traffic patterns, pedestrians, how people flowed in and out of the shops and restaurants. Not to mention the ruckus of laughter on sunny days. I was so elated. I was in love with my city, finding such a strong connection to others. Finally, I had a purpose and part to play. I began to blog about my theory and my city, and other places I visited. I wasn’t the only one who thought the same. My blog grew big, and it formed a place to share our passion.

But then it got strange, and I am not sure if I should tell you this. If you want to survive and thrive in this world, you have to be part of a city. So you find yourself inside the belly of the beast, and that beast can hurt you. I am living proof of that. It all started three years ago when a major newspaper made a feature of my blog. A day after that, minor mishaps happened. A cracked pavement made me lose my balance and twist my ankle. Then my mail got lost. Not once or twice. So many times, in fact, I missed important payments. Luckily I wasn’t evicted, but it came closer than I care to say.

I wrote about my misfortune, joking that my city had rejected me. I filed it all under not so funny coincidences, those things which just happened. For a while, things got normal. But as I walked on the streets to and off work and so on, I had this strange feeling as I was continuously monitored. As if someone or something was waiting for me to make a wrong move. Back then I dared not to write about this because even I find such thoughts paranoid and too much out there. So I pretended everything was fine. It wasn’t. My blog went international, and then the hell broke loose.

An out of route bus tried to run me over. If I hadn’t been quick on my feet, I would have gotten crushed. The driver later explained she wasn’t sure what had happened, muttering something about being blinded by a light. Sun, I had thought, but now as I look back on the weather reports, it had been a cloudy, gray day. After that, I got truly paranoid, finding it hard to leave my house. My job performance suffered, and I actually lost my job. Then my health went as I didn’t move, and I had cut my grocery runs to a bare minimum. I stopped blogging, but others didn’t. My page lived like this huge, unstoppable movement. Then it happened, which finally made me flee.

It happened on a Thursday night at eight pm. I was walking home from a nearby shop, and it was raining hard. I was soaking wet, and I stepped under a street lamp. Instantly I was welcomed with the shower of sparks, and I foolishly panicked and ran. Every street light exploded on my way, and then when I got to my apartment building’s door and pushed in my key, I was electrocuted. The lamp over the door short-circuited, and somehow the doorhandle took in all of the charge. I blacked out.

The doctors’ say I was lucky my neighbor was there to witness the event and could slam me off the doorknob and save my life. I got off with a nasty burn on my hands and the entire arm’s nerves going all wrong. I can still feel the tingle in it. Sometimes I wake up, and it feels like my entire right arm is on fire. But that is small times compared to the fact my heart had stopped for a brief moment there. I was told the neighbor had known CPR, and here I am writing this to you. I cannot thank him enough. But the truth is, I never actually did. As soon as I was released from the hospital, I fled the city. I can’t tell you where I am now or how you get this blog post. But be warned, cities are alive, and they don’t want you to know it. I am not sure why, but I have come to think it is because they somehow feed on us. So I have to do this. My blog is no more. It will go offline as soon as most of you have seen this. I’m so sorry, I should have never started this. Be safe.

Yours,
Alice

Thank you for reading and have a wonderful day and be safe ❤

© K.A. Ashcomb

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