The Science Building

 

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The science building towers above its neighbors: it is thirty stories high. Its face is made of dark grey bricks and windows. At night the squares of the windows glow down the building side. From the base of the building to the topmost story zigs and zags a catwalk. At the top of the catwalk is a view of the world. But a guard monitors the catwalk’s entrance and warns explorers away. When the guard goes for patrol they enter the catwalk stealthily. They clamber up quickly at first, the specks of people on the street growing smaller and smaller and the avenues of the campus rocking further and further away. Then they slow. Their footfalls sound metallic and precarious on the thin steps. Altitude and perspective changes at each landing. They see the arcs of streetlights linked like ribs through the darkness; and they see the beam of the guard’s flashlight prowling the avenue left and right. They climb higher. They step over rusted patches on the stairs and pass the watering cans and planters left on an upper landings. At the top they look out.

The night city unrolls — the amber streets of campus, the buildings along its perimeter, the headlights of cars blown over the highway, the world going to the horizon where red and white smoketowers cough smoke into the night. Hey, the catwalk sings in the wind. And satellite dishes sit upon the sky.

It is a long way down. How long would it take? Ten seconds, no more: a puddle. And dissolve. But the city remains, stretched over the world: a gray belly foisted on the sky. All of the world a city.

Now back down.

(minzu notes 2018)

献给莎盟

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