Nine in the Afternoon

All through the little town’s houses, shops, pathways, and trees colored like candy and just as sweet. The sun that morning rose and smiled at the people as they smiled back during the easy commutes and walks along the grass and iridescent sparkling of the river-ways. A cheerful morning progressed in to a delightful afternoon. With hearts light and excited, the evening was welcomed in to night and before they slept there was laughter and fun for a night-cap.

Dawn returned singing joyfully bright and on time. The routines were journeyed like the stairs down to the tree on Christmas morning right through the morning, afternoon, evening, and in to the gloaming last hours before sleep bid good-night and good-bye to the terrific day.

The sky of diamonds was washed anew in the light of the morning sun, rising-up and filling the clear and pale blue sheet above the rising town. Few clouds came but the ones that did were small and wispy in their lazy floating down the river of the sky. When the next morning arrived, few of the townspeople realized that today they would notice just how particularly similar the clouds they would see that afternoon were, and when they turned their gazed up at noted times the day after that a question they wished they hadn’t considered came to mind.

The weeks past and the town buzzed happily along with their work, their laughter, their time in the sunshine, and without a single speed-bump. Some eyes couldn’t fail to see the clouds drift by with each afternoon, but they brushed that away like an irksome fly. None of them remembered what it felt like to swat away a fly, or a mosquito, or the panic of a buzzing wasp or seeing a spider, but the flowers were vibrant with an aroma as soothing as camomile. Their lives were as full as their bellies, protruding and growing with each glorious, fairy-tale like day and salty and fat loving night of comfortable drunkenness.

The sun bounded over the horizon and took its spot high above them once more. In it’s hot glare an insect-green smart car butted in front of a medium-slate blue pickup. The brashness of the smart car’s coxswain had been sprouted by being cut-off in a different manner the night before by low-funds keeping him from reaching his nightly buzz. He was shorter than his tall stature would suggest, and with it came the uncommon rush to cross the distance between home and work this morning. The pickup did his best to drop off the unexpected indignation, but this was only one of many tiny stones that had pinged in to the town’s windshield. The cracks begun to spread.

The sick calls the following mornings were the first in sometime, and with eyes as round and full as the moon did their swollen and bronze bosses gaze upon this new mar on their perfect attendance. Voices cracked unfamiliar as they shouted without delight and scratched their sweating heads to the view of candy colored shops, pathways, and trees outside of their windows.

A young woman’s alarm beat the sun the following morning, and with playful synth in her ears she opened her door out to the cooler morning air. The concrete path through the grass lined with wilted flowers was but twenty steps in length and ended at the sidewalk framing her quiet suburban street. With a tiny skip she begun her morning jog until her sweat grew warm and then cool in the air. Three blocks away from returning home she spotted a man sitting on the step of an enviable home of grey brick and elegant windows. She recognized the unfamiliar man through the new weight he’d gained, his slumped upper-body leaned heavily upon his knees, and his swollen hands cupped together like a bowl as it held his face.

“Good morning, Mark!” She called as she ran by.

He did not respond, nor would she have heard such a thing anyways, and instead he wept until the dawn threatened to arrive shortly after.

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