Friday, May 6, 2011

FICTION: Smell the Roses by Kyle Thibodeau

            They call it the city that never sleeps. Always awake, always glowing with the lights and sounds that only such a city can make. The people within always moving, always another destination, another place to be. Time always moves forwards in the city, blends together to create something unique. The city becomes a blur to most, aging slowly around the people, all but unnoticeable to those who cannot take a second to look. Those who have forgotten how.

            It was six am. Half of the city was beginning to sir, alarm clocks cycling the sound of a new day. Dreary residents awakening to start preparing for the same monotonous experience of yesterday.  Dragging their unresponsive bodies out of bed, they all share an awareness of each other, each and every one of them victim to the same dull routine of life. As the sun was rising, signaling to its half of the city to wake, it's counterpart in the moon was descending into slumber, sending its own message to the other half to sleep. This countering side of the city began their long trek home. All across the city, those heading home were dreary and exhausted in their way, ready to put an end to yet another carbon copy day of life. These two sides, so different from one another, yet unified under one common wish. A hope that one day, they might wake up to something new.

            As the two sides headed to their separate destinations, there are a few places that they sometimes come across one another, mostly without realizing it. The city is full of well worn sidewalks and forgotten intersections, and it is at one such location that on this particular morning, something changed. It was on this morning that the city ground to a halt, for in the middle of the intersection sitting calmly, was a man. The people of the city reacted to this intrusion in an automatic way, screaming and honking their car horns at him. Still the man just sat there calmly. The people were beginning to stir, their minds unused and disrupted by this change in the daily routine. Still he sat there. The tension was mounting, emotion building up in the crowd forming around him, their waking and sleeping minds fueled by the sudden change to their normality. Then he began to play.

            A single man would have been simple enough to drive around, a minor inconvenience. It was not enough to jar the minds of the people. So be brought with him a piano, and he played for the crowd. It was not music in the strictest sense. The sheet music that sat in front of him was blank. Instead the man’s eyes drifted over the crowd, and that is what he played. His fingers swept over the keys, creating a sound that filled the streets with the raw emotion that it embodied. It was the sound of the city, bringing it to life for the people that lived within. It is impossible to pin down, there was no organization. The music simply swept from one note to the next, telling it's tale to all who would listen.

            By now the crowd was silent. The sound of honking and screaming had stopped long ago. Cars were stopped, and their passengers stood still outside of them. No one moved to stop the music, no one moved at all. Today the people got the wish they didn't even realize they wanted, today when they finally opened their eyes it was to something new. There was no single destination, no singular place to be. Today the people stopped and listened to what the man had to say. Today the people remembered how to live.

            Then the music stopped. It wasn't gradual, it was sudden and abrupt. For the first time, there was a complete and unbroken silence within the city. There was no sound of cars driving by; no hustle of the crowd, even the wind had stopped. Our mysterious man stood from his seat, and the crowd began to murmur. The people no longer knew what they were supposed to do, and all eyes remained on the mysterious man. Bending over, it seemed as though he meant to take a bow, and the crowd looked to one another before starting a slow nervous clap. They were wrong, as the man was simply reaching down for the second object he had brought this morning. Grasping it above his head, the sunlight reflected off of the bat onto the crowd, before he swung it down, smashing it onto the keys of the piano. The noise of the aluminum against such beauty was wretched, but still the crowd did nothing as the man swung again and again, until there was no resemblance left of a once beautiful instrument. The crowd was shocked, still unable to move, still unable to comprehend what was happening. His task completed, the man simply dropped the bat and walked down the middle of the street, the crowd parting before him. The eyes of the crowd followed him until he was out of sight, soon to be forgotten.

            There was no sudden movement, but as the minutes passed by the crowd got back into their cars and headed to work. The people on the sidewalk continued to their chosen destination. One half of the city headed to work, the other to sleep. The passage of time continued, the city continued to age, but one thing was changed. Every now and then, the people remembered the broken piano in the street, the mysterious man and they remembered how to live.



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