Flash Fiction, Shorts

A Pleasant Night

The city was silent and warm at night. The lingering heat from the summer day had faded to a pleasantly comfortable temperature. The green leaves on the trees now were shadowed in a purplish glow, illuminated from above by the perfect white orb hanging in the night sky. A ring of white light—an angelic halo—encircled it, giving the impression that it was far larger than its bright yellow counterpart. If you looked up at the sky you could see the curvature of the earth as the clouds made their slow, listing journey to wherever they would inevitably dump themselves back down to the ground.

Glowing orange orbs mimicked the silver dollar in the sky as best they could, sitting on faded green lampposts; casting their own little rings of light onto the deserted cement sidewalks and pavement streets. The air bristled with unseen life; a thriving natural metropolis hiding in plain sight. Crickets chirruped and rustled, hidden behind dense tangles of branches and bushes. A night owl gave a lonely hoot. A stray cat prowled outside an apartment complex with wood paneling, illuminated by a single light that cast eerie streaks onto the pavement.

The door to the apartment with the light on was ajar. Inside, there was broken glass on the floor of the kitchen, and a mark on the wall where Budweiser dribbled down to the floor. There was no one sleeping in the bed in the other room, but a man sat on the floor there beside it with his head in his hands. The overhead light flickered every now and then, and the fan above him was broken. Every ten seconds the fire alarm would beep, reminding the man on the floor that the battery needed to be changed. The sound was like the dull beating of the man’s heart. A rubber tourniquet still caused the veins of his arm to bulge, but he couldn’t think to untie it. His head rocked to the side and his mouth lolled.

The cat meowed outside the lit window and sniffed at the glass. It soon grew bored and moved on past the apartment complex with the wood paneling, and continued its nightly hunt. Up above the moon was still bright; the night air still pleasant and calm. And the cats and the owls and the crickets continued their nightly routine as the moon made its gradual descent toward the waiting horizon.

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