Nightfall, bleak and cold

This post is by Imtay, not amuirin. Imtay is the other writer. He really does exist, and he really does stand up to pee. Honest.

On occasion, perspective—even somewhat lopsided perspective—can sweep in. A peripheral vision blur until it strikes, leaving you to wonder why it showed up and, afterwards, uncertain whether its appearance makes the universe seem more or less random and chaotic than it did minutes ago.

The setting: Nightfall, bleak and cold; watching snow swirl in pale, soul-sucking streetlights through my faint reflection in the gray tinted windows. I place a call.

Silence.

Worry.

Images of the day past. Tragedies. Mangled metal, swirls of redbluewhite flickering beacons, electronic wails, caved-in concrete; half-masted flags.

A missed friend.

Silence can be the hardest. Breath held, waiting to hear it end, not sure what will meet you once it’s replaced. The combination of dread and hope tears at the spirit.

In silence I walked, a black-coated figure. Long strides through an empty, endless lobby. Mop bucket; curved, blue polishing machine; indoor trees, nearly two stories high, laden with white holiday lights—a sign of lingering hope or mockery of overzealous decoration? —unsure.

I walk, emerge into the night, greeted by the sting of a March snowstorm.

Perspective and memory alter. This is the city, there had to be traffic; had to be a howl of wind and carrying voices. But I remember silence. A sign on the opposite wall warns against loitering.

Turning back indoors, the partially-polished floor, a flower shop. The owner, kind-faced, peers over her glasses. Some people claw against old age at every step; a few embrace it, stride into approaching, empirical wisdom. She is the embracing kind.

Seeing me, she waves, steps over strewn flowers, opens the door.

“How’s my friend?” She always calls me that.

“Good. How’re you?”

Her face wrinkles. “I’m better. But you’re not a very good liar.” I smile. She’s right, I’m not.

“I’ll be ok. Sometimes things just build up a little. So you’re doing better?”

My half-assed attempt to change the subject doesn’t work. She seems a little annoyed by it, even, and just nods, remarking, “I saw you walk by and thought, ‘He’s not doing so well.’ You don’t know it, but you radiate. The light shows. You have a good heart.”

Mental image: Figure walking down the hall, emitting a weird, green, radioactive glow as people run away, screaming. “Thanks,” I reply.

“I can tell when you’re sad. You can’t let things build like that. These people … they don’t know. But I can see something else about you. Those people got bad hearts from the things that got inside them, they think they can pile on stuff, but it’s not long before you’ll start stomping on it. Something’s stomping on you. I can tell.”

I laugh. This part, true, except I’m not certain of the good heart part. I’ve never figured out if I’m a pretty nice guy for being a dick, or if I’m kind of a dick for being a nice guy. Whichever it is, the woman is looking at me intently, and I find myself nodding my head.

I wonder how she can gage my emotions from a few brief conversations and waves.

She talks now, words that would make me uncomfortable coming from any but a kindly old woman. There are two forces in this world, she says: Those with bad hearts have given in. Too much stuff piled on. I remember a friend… one with a very good heart. One who also has people piling on “stuff.”

An image flashes in my mind: the two of us wearing big boots. And stomping.

I must have smiled.

“There’s that smile,” she says. “You see? You radiate with that good heart. It comes through you. Don’t forget that.”

I thank her. She lifts a hand briefly, turns back to her petals and leaves, removing those that have faded; the faint-hearted flowers.

I go thinking, perplexed, into the humming, ascending elevator.

Thoughts of my friend, of kind words in the cold night. I find myself wishing for some big ass boots.

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12 thoughts on “Nightfall, bleak and cold

  1. Nice think-piece… I was a bit jolted when the flower shop lady made the pronouncement “He’s not feeling well.”, because I didn’t think of this as fiction until that point.

    No matter, the introspection reveals much about you, I think. Thanks for this…

  2. Hiya jo, bibliomom, Bob

    yup, Imtay wrote this. I’ve been a slug, but he’s on it. The beginning blew me away, such vivid imagery and emotional impact.

    I hate that waiting feeling.

  3. Okay… that would explain it if I had any idea, whatsoever, of Imtay’s identity. I assume he’s an alter-amuirin? Sorry to be the only one at the party who doesn’t know whose birthday it is…

  4. Oh, okay, you were gone. I tried to kinda introduce him in the post ‘a brief espinachon’. Imtay is Tim, my long-time friend who currently resides in Ohio. He works for one of those nightmare media organizations who send press releases out to all the major news sources.

    I know it’s confusing cus I’ve always been the only writer, but he’s actually been an administrator on this blog since it’s inception, however he only just started to actually write stuff. So we incorporated color coding so people would now which posts are by him, and which posts are by me.

    His posts are in blue, mine are in purple. The blue and purple conversation posts are ones we took turns on in the drafts.

  5. Maybe I can get him to go comment on other blogs, so that the I.P. number will show he isn’t a figment of my imagination. We do write rather similarly, I’m not surprised that it looks like I’m having an episode or something.

  6. Got it. I have noticed that you used different color type from time to time, but I didn’t know Imtay is an actual person because of the similarity in your writing styles.

    I found the opening paragraphs to be particularly poignant, as symbolism combined with emotion to produce a certain symmetry found nowhere else but the grief process. Beautifully written.

  7. Thanks everyone. Yes, this is one of mine, and it’s non-fiction. Thankfully, amuirin offered some brilliant editing, which was seriously needed as I can get a bit too opaque when I start relating through imagery, and I was thinking I was still too “close” to this.

    Despite the surprising similarities in our style and rhythm, I really am a completely different person; that blurry pic by these posts is me and, just to be sure, I will now admit something that I seriously doubt would ever come from amuirin:

    I think James Joyce was brilliant.

    That should do it, even if amuirin is aghast at this.

    (More seriously, these words emerged from considerable emotional intensity and a surprise perspective of which I tried to make sense. I don’t think I’ve quite managed that–making sense out of it all–but your comments are greatly appreciated. Thank you.)

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