Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Fiction: Temperature

It is twenty-one degrees in Manila, and the monitor hums in the dead of night.

Somewhere in the metropolis, a young woman lies back against her pillow and closes her eyes. The movies play in her mind then, still images cast upon sharp silver screens. Laughter and sorrow come at the same time to the depths of her eyes, and she breathes them into the dust of dreams, to play across shades of gray while the moon casts its smile about her form.

She reaches for her dresser, serendipity guiding her touch, and finds the book. It is both new and old at the same time, and she feels the scent of words upon hundreds of pages. Now she smiles at the memory of its arrival, remembrance fallen tightly against her heart... and she sets the story aside for a different occasion. Perhaps there shall be a different place, and perhaps there shall be a different person, his image burned against the parallax of her thoughts. But it is now night in the metropolis, and such matters are best kept for another day.

She returns the book where she found it, its pages crisp to her unhallowed touch.

A little while later, she turns off the light.


It is twenty-one degrees in Manila, and the wires clutch against the carpeted floor.

On the twentieth level of his office, a young man stares into an infinite array of letters and numbers. On the soft white screen before him, twos turn into baleful threes and fives turn into larger successions of random variables. Behind him, the living entity of business slithers throughout its day, leaving trails of paper for the interns to find.

He nudges a cup of coffee, half-full and cold with the tenets of idle philosophy scattering in the breeze. The plate-glass windows cast long shadows across his desk, pale and sunlit with empty promise, and for a moment he closes his eyes, wondering what lies beneath the thin veneer of charts and keywords and empty suits.

Later that evening on the same day, he will walk across a pitiless driveway into a nameless white car, and there he will sleep. The images in the fog shall dance before his eyes, those stories of trust and nobility, of subversion and satisfaction. But in the merest of hours, the mastery of the schedule shall remain dominant, and for this fantasy he is content to wait.

Now the force of the deadline looms, and he returns to his work. Some small part of his mind yet remains, wandering like a mote of dust through the ancient environment, pausing at the faintest hint of sound in the distance.


It is twenty-one degrees in Manila, and the keyboard chatters upon the squalid air.

A thousand miles away, a young woman remembers what she has lost. The tears stream from the corners of her eyes, faster and faster until the torrent threatens to drown the world, and she stills herself so that she can breathe.

Now the lid of the little plastic bottle is open, and now she crams handfuls of swollen yellow capsules into her mouth, spitting and swallowing and crying at the same time, not caring what they are or who may find her in her last hours. The world is a fine blend of darkness and mist, and nothing she knows can show her the light.

She drowses after a while, and the bottle falls from her hand to spill its remaining contents on the floor. There is a bed behind her, soft brown sheets that cradle her hair as it frames her face. She can see beyond the ceiling from where she lies, past the roof and past the sky to the moon and the boundless shining stars.

She holds her dreams close, those shards that lay scattered upon the golden surface of existence, and realizes that slumber now lies waiting.

Now she closes her eyes, and suddenly she is among the stars.


It is twenty-one degrees in Manila, and now the computer dies. It settles, copper and silicon running in veins to rest in their homes, and it waits for the endless toil of the next day.

The young man pushes back the chair. The headphones feel heavy against the sides of his face, and he pulls them off. The table is filled with countless objects, all carried there and ignored, and he sets a few aside.

Now he catches his breath, the sensation of air filling the knowledge of his universe and the strangeness within. Now his senses go slack and float away. leaving only the faintest memories of time and sorrow.

And now the dim light of sleep comes into his eyes, and he marvels at how the remnants of his mind so resemble motes of dust.

No comments: