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Temple of Ash

Sitting here in the temple of ash, I draw long looks at the floor. In every glance I make I look for a vague reflection, perhaps in some shard of glass, always in the chrome mirror of my toaster. I am bothered by smoke from the tobacco heaters that I put-out incorrectly. I sometimes think that I’m the only resident in the building that spends time in wonder anymore.Standing-up in frustration, I discard my chair of disbelief and brush away insignificant ashes. Pacing around the apartment, I realize that I must get out. Outside. Preparing for my walk in my hallway, I become the man in the over-sized brown leather jacket. I enjoy the rituals necessary for an outing by finding a wallet, the doing-up of shoes and putting the house keys in my front right pant pocket. I now leave the apartment.Fearfully, walking toward the city centre, I notice the odd university student slouching toward a pub. I keep walking.Friends are on dates, and relatives are out visiting relatives, and children and parents are without doubt in movie theatres somewhere.I realize for the second time now that it’s Saturday evening. I doubt that I am on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post. I know that tonight is the kind of night, however, for blank faces to wonder why there might be a knock at the door. Downtown is as yet ok and all the teenagers are dressed-up like rock stars, sporting unique, freshly dyed hair. Their colour accentuates the street level of the cityscape. I continue to walk.Finding an avenue to my right, I look up, then quickly down. Thin, twisted branches comb my hair. I see no surprise as I step on brownish-yellow and orange leaves. Outshining them is the rock star hair. The leafless tree tops don’t hold any promise anymore. It could be snowing, the the lies are so white in my eyes that I don’t know where to stand. So I borrow somebody else’s behaviour and search for a telephone booth to call home. Tactfully, I next pretend that the thought never occurred.Sparsely tweaking out a message, the black, black clouds break open to take me home. I realize that I have produced a tear for the first time in ten years. It seems real and easily shimmering on red or gold. The powers silently watch me. I break into a sweat and my body temperature rises, melting the snowflakes that land sideways on my temples.Now I see four-way flashers coming from a car that’s double-parked. Standing behind a typical green four-door sedan, a balding man with glasses handles a cardboard parcel into his trunk. Another car’s headlamps shine on me. I jaywalk, ignoring the overhead traffic lights. Turning from yellow to red, they highlight a ghoul. With immaculate timing I notice a white, white child teeter across the street.Perfection is hand in hand with her striding father. The small bundle is carefully packaged with ten fingers reaching out from within a one-piece, navy blue snowsuit. A tartan scarf is snug around her blonde hair and nape of neck. With one hand free, the child’s father holds tightly down the peak of his black and blue baseball cap, so as not to lose it in the opposing wind.Calculating a measured distance behind, I join and follow, making an uncommitted trio. The green car’s hazards continually signal, depicting staggered luminescence in the nearby snow. To avoid an oncoming red truck, I cannot help but advance on the pair in front of me. The three of us cross the street. Having traversed the road, the youngster and her dad make necessary adjustments to the little one’s snowsuit. The wind now slows.Escaping the prettiness of the picture, I reduce my pace and look away. My eyes recommend something just inside a darkened bank alcove. Somewhat surprisingly, the city cave houses an auspiciously-robed lady. She looks like a prostitute and possibly witnessed the entire four-minute sequence. She winks.Remaining approachable, the lady maintains her place on the empty square of sidewalk. The father and daughter are casually lost in the distance. The small green sedan has warmed its radiator sufficiently, and the driver slowly turns to leave. I give myself a second glance at my doorway-distilled mistress, still in waiting.But she is not the queen. Quickly now, I light a cigarette, and return, alone again, to my temple of ash.

Mark Stanley

Temple of Ash

Mark Stanley

Joined November 2010

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Artist's Description

short story about going out for a walk on a saturday night.

Artwork Comments

  • twinravens
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  • Mark Stanley
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