Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Map

As the metal gate squeaked open and he stepped into the cool bright air of the morning, he could see his destination. It was just two blocks away from where he now stood, but there were worlds between them. A sea of gray sidewalk that hid within it all the siren calls, all the sunken ship of dreams, all the maps to hidden island nations filled with spice and mushroom and song and music that shattered the mind into a spectacle of colored light.
The worlds were always there, but they took a careful look, more than most could give. That, he knew. You just couldn’t see them from a bus window, or a slowly moving bicycle, or even on a brisk walk. They were micro spaces that required micro attention. It was true attention, and it was what he had developed. And because he had developed it, he looked harder to find them. So everyday he opened the squeaky metal gate and stepped onto the sidewalk.
He looked up two blocks and saw the sign of the liquor store on Lombard and Dominican Dr. It was his eventual destination, but as soon as he saw it, he put it out of his mind. There were worlds to walk. To get there, he followed the cracks in the sidewalk, letting them lead him like a well-made map.
Of course, he knew the way, objectively, it was a short distance. For any other person around him, it was a quick walk. And though he knew it could be like that, simple, fast, blind, he chose to move a different way. He chose to voyage.
He let the lines in the earth lead him. The earth that had long ago been covered up by man and his concrete and his dominance, and his shortsighted plans. But nothing was permanent, and the earth moved like a softly groaning woman. It moved softly and subtly, but just like a woman, its force was known, shown to all that could look and see her sounds.
The cracks were her revolt, her soft laughter and cry. There were cracks everywhere, long straight ones that ended at the asphalt street and the jagged ones that looked like lightning and seemed to move in all directions simultaneously. Everywhere were the signs of the shifting earth and shifting time and he followed them.
Each day was slightly different, each route deviated slightly along the sidewalk, leading him past small remnants he had never seen, like the forgotten penny, the just-blooming daisy that had found the sun. Time was no concern, the weather was no concern, it all brought new gifts. A new shift of light, or a droplet of rain that would splatter between the cracks and bring out a bit of dark brown earth.
He let the cracks lead him, and because he relented to their shape, they showed him things he would have missed. Though he didn’t look up, he could feel the energy around him. The quick movements of the bus, the lone bicycle that sent a gust of air over him.
They passed him in a second. They passed him and the missed worlds and they never saw the treasure. He could hear some questions from outside, or perhaps they came from within him…he heard the echoes…”why?” The questions of those not looking perhaps.
They were questions lost in the wind and he walked past them, drinking them, eating them, letting them roll through him like another breath of air. The why for them could not be explained with the words of a meandering explorer, they were deaf to his words and blind to his actions and his true motive. He walked through the questions, slowly following the path of the day.
When the world was walked, he would claim his treasure. Sweet liquid gold would coat his tongue and throat and he would drink it as though there had never been anything else. Nothing from the twelve years that had come before, nothing that would ever come after.
This is the day that worlds were crossed. The only day in which it could ever happen.

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