City Lives


The snow is a dingy gray, like whites left too long in washwater. Blue shadows cast by piles of the driven snow stretch languorously across the road, striping the slick asphalt with patterns of bright winter light. Roads filthy with the tire tracks of a thousand holiday travelers rumble underneath our blue car, whispering k-thick, k-thick, k-thick, as the miles are eaten up, under one license plate and out the other. The windshield is peppered with salty spray, tear tracks of the windshield wipers smeared across in translucent white.

Smoke stacks from the oil refinery steadily billow their heavy breaths, gigantic pillars of every exhale drifting away to warmer climates. Spindly metal scaffolding tethered to the tall chimneys of the refinery blink lazily in the bright winter sun, their lights useless in the daylight, but operating anyway. Short buildings squat beside the towers, settling heavily into the snow to do their work of squeezing the oil exhaust out of it’s lungs and into the smoke stacks. Nearby, cars on the highway rush on, little vessels being ushered along like blood in veins. Each a different destination, a different function. Blood clots slow traffic as slick ice gets the best of black rubber, and with a squealing crunch, defeats shiny metal as well. Immediately large square antibodies rush to the scene, whiter than the snow and flashing red and blue. Enveloping the accident and debris into it’s double doors it speeds away, whining all the while through loud sirens.

Downtown, Christmas lights light up like neurons, each bulb pulsing it’s own electrical current into its neighbor, passing the signal along. The Heart of the City beats in time to the nightclubs, pulses with the ebb and flow of pedestrians crossing and waiting their turn.

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