By metro, the man found himself soaring over the dark city he’d inhabited for nearly a year. The train rumbled as it passed by the silhouettes of abandoned railway cars and the shadows of drunken individuals too far gone to see where they were stumbling to. In the late hours of the night, the only light came from neon yellow streetlamps which lit the streets in strange splotches, highlighting a rubbish bin here and a beat-up stop sign there.
As the metro traveled deeper into the tangles of the city, the man reflected on the night. He reflected on things he wished he could forget. There were images of women varied and yet still hazy, their faces never quite clear enough to his minds eye. There were scenes of bars and brothels, the glasses lining the high varnished counters like posts on a fence and a red glow bathing the room around him. Cards in his hand, but never good ones. Then came that sick crack of self-realization. It had tumbled down on him like bricks and he’d stumbled out of the places where he’d wasted most of his nights away in.
The metro glided high up over the city. The gloomy tenements that housed the city’s poorer families and the darkened doorways, which always housed one or two lonelier individuals. It curved down toward the suburban squalor, a place where the houses stretched on in perfect unison. The front lawns were a blanket of green, even in the night. The communities seemed to vanish like smoke in the air as the metro plunged back down between several high-rises.
Then the city rose up, buildings like children’s building blocks, wielded by men who wished them higher and higher. The man could smell money on these streets, like the ever-present stench of garbage. It reeked here. The people who clumsily made their way through the alleys and backstreets were much like he’d been. Too lost in their own minds to see what was truly around him. Oh, he’d seen the error in his ways eventually. But it had left him hollow. How he’d even been able to board that metro, he wasn’t sure. But he knew it would take him somewhere far from this corruption, if even only for a day. Escape was necessary.
As the city slipped back into the blackness, the forests sprung from the earth. A mixture of conifers and bare limbed trees congregated with a harmony he’d not seen in that city. Beneath the twinkling stars, the woods roamed the hills, a fur coat over the cold terrain that did hardly a thing to keep it warm.
He rode in silence. The other passengers on the car were escaping the city, too. They didn’t want to speak about the terrors they’d left behind. Neither did he.
It wasn’t long until the night began to give way to the day. Pink light burst out from below the distant trees and clawed its way across the sky. Then he saw the snow. It was hard to say when it had first started, but now it was impossible to ignore. It fell across the forest and the ground in sheets. The longer he looked at it, the more the man felt his memories of the city pass away. He was moving somewhere innocent. Somewhere that didn’t need to know about all he’d seen. Somewhere where he could forget about all of the mistakes.
The metro stopped in a tiny station, nearly a quarter of the size of the one he’d been in when he’d boarded. The man summoned a taxi with a quick wave of his hand, the only taxi in the village in fact, and it took him away. They drove by a quiet stretch of streets; the houses donned with lights of every color. In the front yards, snowmen sat contentedly with scarves around their icy shoulders and carrot noses poking into the early morning light. Even the air smelled sweet and spicy and he could imagine a mug of hot buttered rum in his cold fingers before the sun was fully up.
He got off at a little house half way down 4th street. It was much plainer than the ones around him. Candles glowed in the windows and a wreath shook on the door, the wind trying to pull it away. Slinging his bag over his shoulders, the man approached the front door and timidly knocked.
Commotion inside. A dog barked somewhere in the house. Chairs scraped against the old wooden floors and after a moment, the door opened a crack. Then wider.
An older woman, her dimpled cheeks growing red within moments, her blue eyes giving way to a kind of intense delight that he hadn’t seen in over a year. She reached over the threshold and wrapped her tiny arms around his shoulders. She smelled like warm apple pie. Her touch felt so welcome against the cold.
“Welcome home, dear.” she whispered in his ear.
He pulled away to look into her eyes once again. “Mom.”
Merry Christmas, everyone! I won’t be posting a blog post for the next couple days! Everyone have a safe and happy holiday! And thank you so much for supporting me this holiday season once again!
“Home” is copyrighted to Katherine Silva.