At A Certain Stoplight

“Do you wanna go or not?”

“Where is it again?”

“Don’t even worry, man. I’m driving.

It’ll maybe be like 20 minutes.”

40 minutes have come and gone.

An hour.

We arrive at the apartments.

Slinking along the dark, quiet lanes.

Lights of the city tint the night sky in tones of mauve and lavender.

“This is me.”

One after the other,

Through the small, wrought-iron gate.

Past the porchlight sentry,

And into the apartment.

A kitchen light flickers into being.

“You like my shopping cart?”

“Where’d it come from?”

Cabinets clap.

Speckled beige sofa looks so inviting.

Fuzzy waves. I’m entertained.

“Oh man, I stole it the other day from the Dollar Buy down the road, when you come out, and make a left at the…”

Nodded, as though I knew of it.

“Yeah, oh, ok.

So, who all stays here with you?”

“Huh?”

“Who all lives here?”

Shopping cart rattles as he enters the living room.

He kicks it, it rolls to the sliding glass doors behind me.

“Just me man, I was homeless for a minute but…

Hey, let me show you something.”

The staircase is met with a bay window at its first landing.

“Fancy.”

Second landing leads to the hall.

His room is small. Dimly lit by a peach, porcelain lamp.

It’s enough. A bed with a real frame. A view of the opposing apartments.

“‘I’ma show you something. Wanna see something crazy?”

“Yeah, what’s up?”

“When I got this apartment, there were no lights in here, right?

Just this lamp I brought with me.”

He points at the ceiling.

“See anything?”

“… No.

What is it?”

Your typical popcorn textured ceiling.

Hmm.

Not feeling the atmosphere right now.

“Wait, hold up… Ok, look now.”

He twists the lamp’s knob.

Dim goes bright,

Bright goes to black.

Eyes search the ceiling,

There they are.

The popcorn ceiling of white,

 Now aglow with tiny stars.

Millions of stars.

I can’t see them all at once.

I try to sit down, to get a wider view of them all.

My mind tells my back to bend and my legs to fold,

But they won’t.

I can’t feel them.

And I don’t hear that voice anymore…

That misplaced, hushed excitement.

Replaced by the overwhelming, yet somehow soothing sound of…

Something, something big, zipping past me.

My body is rocked by its passing.

My vision shakes.

Again, and again, the shaking sensation is followed by the sound of a whirring body,

Careening off into the void.

Always passing me by.

Always in a rush.

A warm, red mist seems to permeate the area.

It lulls my mind further…

I can’t tell how deep it goes, this expanse of misty starlight.

I can’t see a thing but the multitude of the host of the celestial wilderness.

I feel helpless, and untouchable.

Then the warm, red mist gives way

To an unmistakable, bright, green wave of energy.

It passes through my whole, and suddenly,

I taste smoke. I smell earth. I feel heat.

My eyes are open. I stomp the gas.

Nobody was behind me.

Thank God.

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