Alice cupped her hand over her lighter to spite the breeze and light her cigarette.
Sound waves pulsed from the Masquerade, beating against the walls of the small venue, sickly begging to spill out into the atmosphere. Atlanta lights blinded the night sky——the very eyes of God——from Alice below; she peered skyward.
Black. She thought. But, almost blank.
Tree branches swished in the frigid wind, adjacent to the sidewalk. Brown spots littered the ground along their roots, dancing——writhing——under the strings of the gale, crunching under the feet of the people going in and out of the shack-like building.
She heard footsteps; a young man approached.
“You know, the concert is inside.”
Alice took her hand from her pocket to push her bright blue bangs from her face.
He was still there.
“I’m aware.” She replied.
“Well, it’s a lot warmer inside,” he said as he stood beside her.
“I know,” Alice flicked ash from her cigarette.
“What are you doing?”
She exhaled smoke mixed with moist breath, then watched as it dissipated into the air.
It’s gone——just like that
“You here alone?” he lit his cigarette behind his hand. “You got a boyfriend?”
His hot smoke poured into the air as he exhaled, then was gone.
You too, huh?
“Yeah, I do.”
“You need another one?”
Alice could see the faint light of the crescent moon plastered above the haze of the city of Atlanta. Only the moon——a giant rock——dared pierce the visage of the civilization below; only the moon dared speak among the deaf noise of the lives of monotony; only the moon would audaciously preach to man in his primal language.
I remember it. She smiled, gritting her teeth. The times—--
She could remember the times before: Like Christmas as a child, the blatant lies of innocence made manifest in a fat man in red.
She sighed, then inhaled.
But why was it that way?
She looked into the abysmal above.
Such a deep dark.
“You wanna come to my place after the show?”
The beacons of an airplane pierced the black sky.
“Moving.” She puffed the last of her cigarette. “An airplane means people are moving.” She exhaled. “Going places. Like, business trips. Or going home to family. Or moving to a new place. Or going on vacation. Somewhere nicer. Warmer. Or more colorful. Etcetera. Etcetera.”
At least they’re moving.
“So, do you want to hook up...orrr?”
Alice dropped her cigarette onto the coarse concrete and silenced the embers beneath her boot. Bass thumped, the lifeblood of her heart in a dire rush to escape the confines within.
“Sometimes,” Alice sighed, only breath escaping, “sometimes, I feel——not everyone is a success, ya know?” she looked out into city beyond, the lights of offices in the distant skyscrapers—--empty offices. She looked at the tree branches. Empty. Them too? “Some are failures. Just walking—--walking failures——and,” Alice put her hands in her pockets, “what if I’m one of them?”
There was no reply.
Alice looked around.
The sounds of the concert inside still carried on; cars flew by. It was a white noise, a rampant waltz to nowhere.
Alice looked up at the crescent moon; she didn’t smile back.
Photo by Morgan White