For many days the sun beat down on the earth and the heat rose high into the sky. In the city, the parking lots, paved in black asphalt, nearly sizzled. It was a mistake to set tender feet on those surfaces. While man and beast abated their pace, trucks and cars tore down the highway at unfaltering speed, in unlimited numbers–machines. Their drivers, in their air-conditioned interiors, took no notice of the engine stress, the oil coursing hotly through the motor, the heat of combustion, the friction of the many turning, rotating mechanical wheels, cranks–pistons pounding hard and fast–each vehicle its own tiny, yet furious furnace, racing this way and that.
Caught in a thermal updraft, she floated and circled above the interlocking expressway. The air rustled her feathers and tilted her wings as she gave in and glided, a respite from flying–tiny heart beating. She scanned below her looking for something green, alive and cool. She saw miles of rooftops–black mostly. Visible waves of heat rose from the buildings.
She tipped one wing and changed direction–moving north with the speeding traffic below her. To one side of the black-ribboned roadway, she saw the tower of green leaves. Flapping her wings, she left the thermal wave, and dove down for a closer look.
The tower of green was growing in a bare patch of earth–surrounded by a rusting, chain link and barbed wire fence. Next to it, a grey brick building stood, its intricate slate and tile roof crumbling into itself.
She flew into the tower of green and landed upon a thick woody vine. She rested a moment. A few grains of sand fell onto the leaves below her feet, . She turned her head to the left and right then hopped deeper into the vines. More sand trickled downward. She spied a beetle and quickly plucked it from the vine only to lose it when her beak struck the red brick behind the leaves. Stunned, she sat quietly for a while then began pecking at bugs–bugs busy, nibbling away at the vine. She moved about leisurely, eating, resting. Hours passed.
At dusk, thunder, soft for the moment, sounded in the distance. She looked upward. The large cumulus clouds, white against the bright scorching blue sky, gave an illusion of coolness. A hot wind blew. The clouds shifted. A spiral passageway appeared–all white, soft, cool, enticing.
She spied it. She darted out of the leaves, spread her wings and headed for the clouds, toward the sphere of coolness. The tower shifted, ever so slightly. The leaves on the vine rustled as the brick structure toppled–to the ground.
© Glenda M. Kotchish
August 28, 2016
I wrote this story over a period of days, hot summer days–a sentence here and a sentence there. I saw the brick tower on my commute into the city. A vine was beginning to curl around a tower and was claiming it. A building, abandoned and falling apart, with a beautifully crafted roof stood beside the tower. At the same moment I noticed the cloud formations. From there the story came.