just a little walk

He always loved the city; he loved the way it could swallow him whole.

And sometimes he would walk for hours (and hours and hours), and at first it would be beautiful because the late afternoon sunlight turned everything gold and pink and lovely, and warmed his pale skin. And, before the sun set, he always noticed things; nice things that made him smile. He noticed people playing and laughing, buskers giving loud, friendly compliments, trees swaying serenely in the breeze, and for a while he would feel like he was part of something bigger and better and happier.

And then it would fill the air – the soft smell of dinner cooking, twisting and turning gracefully in the breeze until it reached the noses of the children playing outside. And they would all run back to their apartments, and the sun would sink behind the skyline, and he would still be walking because there was never anything better to do anyway.

He would get lost in the sound of his sneakers pound-pound-pounding into the cracked sidewalks.

And he would pause sometimes, because the windows of a house would be glowing warmly into the night. And sometimes, just sometimes, he would imagine he was inside too, where he should be, and he was safe and comfortable and laughing with his family.

But then it would get later, and the only lights still on were in gritty, dingy buildings that no one should ever want to set foot into. And he would see figures in shadows, mumbling to each other, and men laughing too loudly, and women in short skirts and strawberry lipgloss and click-click-click high heels.

And sometimes he would notice one of the women, and wonder what it would be like to crush her lips under his, what it would be like to feel and taste and touch and think about something other than his own life. And sometimes he would find out.

And other times, other times he would set foot in the gritty, dingy buildings, and let the music shake his soul and block out his mind. And he’d sit under the flashing lights and take things that made the world swim around him, and he would watch the music dance and listen to the thoughts trickle out of his head and when people laughed he felt like the sound was scraping along his skin and maybe it was a bad feeling but he couldn’t really tell and

and

and

he would wake up the next morning in some old alley he’d never seen before. His head would be pounding and his feet would be aching and he knew it was stupid, but he still always loved the city.

He loved the way it could swallow him whole.

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