Urban Flash Fiction
Even if everyone disappeared, Robin’s world wouldn’t be any quieter.
No one is ever really talking to Robin, or they would have touched him — jolted him from his dream.
Someone would be looking directly through him, gums flapping, fingers pointing, anger in their eyes, a curly black locke bobbing over a wrinkled brow as they approached in angst. But then he’d realize there was someone behind him, and a fight would break out… but that wouldn’t hold his interest.
Things aren’t the same without noise.
Noise use to attach itself to the important stuff. A car crash; high-pitched screech, always accompanied by the sound of shattering glass, followed by sirens. Or was it the other way around?
Without sound, Robin’s attention was like the tip of a pen light. He either looked at something or he didn’t.
And he never looked at things that reminded him of the power of sound. He, or maybe it was his eyes, would decide what was important and what wasn’t.
Gums flapping, knuckles slapping skin, men yelling, a woman screaming… Those were things that got people’s attention. It was a loud world outside of Robin’s head.
Just colors, he thought briefly. Then the totality of his risky stagnation got re-engulfed with the effort of never putting two and two together.
Another distraction; they were everywhere. A lady waving her arms from the other side of the street. If he were to give it more attention he may assume she was warning him of something, but that would mean she was addressing him.
And no one addresses Robin.
Just keep moving. Don’t light.
What was important was that no one could touch him. He could divide the distance between himself and another person a trillion times and he still ended up with a little space left. No one ever really touched him.
It was all just relative. Bodies of mass revolving around one another in the ether.
For a moment he was a planet circling a distant star. Soundless. Still.
But the experience wouldn’t last long enough for him to believe it. It was like a soap bubble blown by God. There, materializing his thought in its oily rainbow shell, then POP.
He was walking again.
Just colors, that’s all they are, he thought.
Just like words had once had meaning, up until he realized they were only sounds. Utterances strung together, hitting a vibrational receiver and being interpreted by his brain. Once he took away the meaning, they had totally ceased to be.
A truck barrels by in a blur. The trailer becomes a brief wall, blocking the image of the waving woman, then is gone again. He wouldn’t see if there was relief on her face or not, because a small part of his attention went to the grey plume of runoff arcing up and over his shoulders like the breakers off a seawall.
His foot steps down from the curb and onto the roadway, darkened by the previous rain. He floats a few steps across the street.
The woman was tightening her red cape around her shoulders now and smiling toward a friend as she crossed. Robin was wet. He couldn’t tell. The spray had never touched him.
He wouldn’t ask himself if she could still see him. That would be self-defeating. He had to keep his attention here. Or he’d be out there, with the planets.
Grey, blacks, blue sky, his reflection in the glass of the front doors. He couldn’t tell if the colors had become the people staring, or if he had just gotten close enough to realize what he was seeing.
Maybe there was a sound. Something just a little louder than the brightest white, coming from over his shoulder. The place he never dared to look.
Maybe the doors had closed behind him. It was unnerving. He didn’t intend that.
He thought of a door. He thought of an easy chair. He thought of a place that was safe, where he wouldn’t have to doubt that he was losing control.
All colors. These turned into an elevator after the threatening faces crowded away.
Water dripped from his slicker and he saw the glow of the light reflected in the little puddle he’d made on the granite by his foot.
A million mirrors and no one sees.
“You gettin’ out or what?” the bellhop may have said, but it wasn’t intended for him. It was the other guy he’d addressed. The man in the mirror.
The door he’d thought-up swings open to the touch of a magic card.
Robin moon walks across the tile to the mentally fabricated easy chair.
Sits, fabricates something to drink.
The janitor is swabbing the granite floor of the foyer when the bellhop steps off the elevator.
The bellhop minds the yellow wet floor cone, “Man these actors are all the same,” he says.
“Ah, give ’em a break,” says the janitor wringing out the mop with the lever, “they spend half their lives making people smile.”
“Yeah, and the other half pretending we don’t exist,” says the bellhop in his red suede hat.
“Ah, I don’t know,” says the janitor, “sometimes I wonder what would happen if we just gave em a big fat hug!”
“Yeah, cuz that’s what ya need when you can buy everything in the world…”
The janitor pulled his mop across the threshold of the elevator a few times thoughtfully.
The bellhop sits down on an ottoman and flips through Facebook photos of his family.
Somewhere, in a high-rise Hilton, a celebrity was putting a call out to an escort service. There was no one available.
Tomorrow, the world would be a little quieter.
Jay Horne is an author and publisher out of Bradenton, Florida. He is a husband and father of four.
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