untitled feb 12
The street is dark and deserted, only barely illuminated by the last one or two lit windows in the distant building. I take my earphones out and let them fall into my jacket pockets, taking in the bitingly cold world at 3 am, silent apart from the slight crunch of my boots in the snow. The stars swim, strikingly clear, in the indigo sky above. I glance up, far above, to the full moon as I continue walking forward, with no real destination, but just an unwavering feeling of needing to keep going.
My fingers are numb, eyelids heavy, and I feel my face slowly numbing, but I know I can’t go back home right now. I swallow the rapid, heavy beating of my heart and narrowly avoid stepping into a deep puddle of icy water. I focus on my breathing and my steps and nothing else, the freezing cold and surreal feeling of total isolation washing over all my senses.
A slight breeze dances past me and I pull my jacket closer to myself. I barely plan out where I’m going, but my feet lead me towards the old destinations, somehow needing to relive them every time. Here is the field where I played pretend with my friend, there is the playground where I ran until I dropped to the ground in exhaustion as a kid, and there yet again is the forest where I saw the coyote that one time my parents were driving me home from the hospital. I could barely see over the car dashboard back then. I remember my mom hugging me close as I pointed excitedly at the animal shape at the edge of the trees watching our car roll past. I wonder if she remembers that moment, that memory that has oddly stayed completely lucid with me more almost ten years later.
I stand by the road – the street lamps are broken, one is flickering eerily several feet away – and stare into the forest. If I try hard enough, I can almost make out a shape staring back and I turn away, heading off the road into the small backyard neighbourhood hidden behind the fields.
There is not a single noise or movement at this hour. I pass a daycare, the small swings and benches indifferent in my peripheral vision. Still, I recognise every one of these places. If not by sight, then by the stirring of familiarity in my chest as I pass them. The world feels underwater, resting at the depths of an unseen ocean. It feels like the entire universe is asleep and no matter how far I run or how loudly I shout into the sky, I will not wake it up. I only feel oddly serene as I navigate the side roads with no sense of urgency; passing by quiet houses in the near distance, gaze brushing past the bikes leaning against the walls and the quaint snowmen standing unmoving in the snow.
I try to take each scene in in a way that overwhelms me, making the present reality so large and all encompassing that it leaves no room in my mind for anything else.
I keep walking. I’m far from home now, having taken a long detour into a neighbourhood which I haven’t truly ventured into since I was in elementary school. I find myself smiling despite myself and I stand in the middle of the road for a moment. There is no car in sight and I stuff my hands deeper into my pockets, craning my head upwards and staring at the sprawl of stars ahead; splashed into the sky like a sweep of a paintbrush. They blink and glimmer, huge cosmic giants big enough to swallow the earth whole, condensed into a speck of light in the darkness. I might as well be invisible, a flicker of life in eternity, at this one particularly insignificant moment in time staring off into the night.
I breathe out, watching my breath clouding in the air in front of me as I look back down. I don’t recognise what I feel. I only step back onto the sidewalk and crunch my boot into the ice, the noise oddly pronounced in the silence of the night.
Then I turn and begin to take the long way back home.