Short Story by Jack McCormack titled No Longer My City

Prime Bling (PB) Your favorite on line digital entertainment guide is delighted to welcome back Jack McCormack. Jack who lives here in Dublin last year sent us some writings known as Aesthetic Writings Melancholy. This time around Jack has written a short story titled, No longer my city take it away Jack.

No Longer My City.

It was dawn as the bus trundled from the depot. The sunrise sent shimmering rays over the placid river Liffey, bestowing a golden path from the water to the horizon. Beyond this horizon, the sun illuminated the shimmering haze of pollution. The skies were crying. Their teardrops fell obliquely against the windows of the bus and combined with the nascent beams of light. Together, they acted as a team, a triumphant team and nourished the shrubbery of the drab pavement below.

          The porous path leading to the General Post Office was abounding in the vibrant, viridescent biennials that inhabited it. The fissures were stark and dismal, mirroring the emotions of the mundane dwellers who nonchalantly lived in the substandard hostels above. The white chewing gum that contrasted against the achromatic ground it was so tenaciously gripped to was anything but mint and fresh, characterised by an era of ponderous footprints.

Step by step, those who once innocuously pondered of being astronauts, doctors and superheroes trudged to their monotonous offices, which slowly made up more and more of the morning sky.

          The firmament was now mostly cloud, deep steel blue greys that reflected the hues of O’ Connell street. Everything was a dense shade, like a matte painting in a faintly lit room. Everything apart from the tail lights that flowed into the heart of the city and unabashedly shined red and blue, following the meticulous pattern of the wailing siren that accompanied them.

 

The busy road to the left was glorious in it’s inception. Three lines of steel and rubber, all with the potential of a vehement two hundred miles an hour, yet each merely reaching five in their stop and start motion. Bathing in their own putrid fumes, one hundred hands were simultaneously reaching forward to turn the air conditioning on. In each personal world, a radio was telling stories, singing and advertising another futile product capable of nothing but collecting dust.            

          The ambulance from before veered to the curb, overlooked by the children of the exorbitant minivan who were encapsulated by the slabs of technology in their hands. It was another day in the city. One person’s grave misfortune was slowly becoming the inconvenience of many in their hermetically sealed indifference.

The incandescent lights changed from a vivacious green to a morose red and with that, a stampede of overzealous civilians who were unequivocally late for work began to stride in a perpetual motion. Almost robotically, their feet simultaneously landed left, right, left, right.

          For an ephemeral moment, I thought of her and the ten good reasons she had to go and the thousand reasons she had not to. Yet, for an even shorter moment, I quickly realized that it could not be her, for she had been swallowed by the athirst mouth of London. Striving to be distinct, her pristine heels moved antithetically. With each stride, her mind became more clear, more resolute, as if the growing physical distance between her and her patently misbehaved son had now become an emotional chasm. As the incipient sunlight caressed her skin, promising a new dawn, a new beginning, she entombed her memories of youth in a thick sheet of ice and let it go.

Then, abruptly pausing to close her eyes and take in a deep breath of dewy air, she steeled herself to only think of her future from here on in. A future she would mould, build and direct around this city, for this city, is her city. Pace by pace, she was beginning to feel more in charge, in command of her own mind, body and soul. She was a girl walking into her own destiny, a destiny that lay squarely in her own hands.

Her ardent son was speeding up while the cracks of the city’s patterned ground concurrently slowed him down. He anxiously avoided the seemingly huge gaps between each slab of dilapidated limestone, in trepidation of the sinister superstition that would ensue if he gave in.

 

In the distance, a victim of the transient Celtic Tiger lay recumbently. In spite of his tightly shut eyes, there was no escaping the violent emotion, not fear exactly but a sort of undifferentiated excitement, that inevitably flared up in him, then faded once again.

          His eyes were mirrors, silver with a perpetual stare yet unable to focus on any one subject for a few fleeting moments at a time.  It seemed to me that the stainless hip flask in his grip had one task, to numb his forlorn existence.  The smell of cheap vodka, which made him retch from time to time(a clear sign of its distaste), crept through the bus window. A perplexed reminiscence I did not dare pinpoint. Worst of all was that the smell, which sank him into stupor each night and revived him each morning, was inextricably mixed with the odour of the General Post Office he sat beside.

There it was. A symbol of both longevity and mortality. A symbol of both freedom and captivity. A symbol no longer, for the unfathomable bullet holes had been inattentively filled with cement and tarnished with graffiti.

The man was balled up like he is afraid to release his knees, contemporarily rocking to the beep of the Brennan’s van reversing behind him. His clothes were once high end, but with enough wear, anything can look like rags. His skin was hidden behind layers of grime and his hair hung as a tangled mop of brown and grey. The cadence of his voice surprisingly extinguished the noise of the emphatic women around the corner who was so desperately trying to sell her strawberries, ‘can you spare some change?’.

 

          The air conditioning pumped through two filters, whistling with the extreme pressure. It smelled slightly of diluted gas, rancid. As the world slid by the window, there are small movements amongst the passengers. Someone shifts in their seat, there’s a little cough and a mild ‘bless you’. The brakes squeaked and everyone lurched forward as the bus came to a stop. ‘St. Stephen’s Green’, the bus man enthusiastically exclaimed as he swings open his cumbersome door, paying the utmost attention to the finely rolled cigarette between his mottled fingers.

The lighter sparked and the smoke seemed ubiquitous. Ash sprinkled across the cement each time his thumb flicked the filter. Each floating piece was a moment of his life sheared away. He inhaled deeply, letting the smoke seep into his cells. The comfort he ached for had finally returned. The same comfort that could only be supplied by his incorrigible habit. As I took my last step, the others took their first, angry at waiting around for both buses and love, with one late and one not coming at all. There it was. The one part of this city, that to our relief, was not part of the city. Our escape.

An immense bulky tree stood in front of me, movement of a whirlwind but look of a ‘wych’. It’s branched nervous system protruded like vines up towards the sky, yet juxtaposed against the unapologetically urban cityscape. A cityscape composed of nothing but monoliths of concrete that soared out of the sidewalk in an exact grid pattern. At night it was beautiful in it’s own way, so many lights. By day you relied on the sky to let you know that it wasn’t a monochromatic world but just one where there was no appreciation for art, no concern for life and no regard for feelings.

Last night’s rain had melted the leaves underfoot to slush and arbitrarily created a color of brilliance, a colour of transcendence. The bench that lay ahead was turquoise and reminded me of the ocean under brilliant summer rays. I let my eyes wander the surface, lingering briefly on the patches that were almost greenish and shaped like islands in the blue. I pulled the sleeve of my omnipresent jumper and let my fingers fall to the surface, feeling the heat of the day that had soaked into the metal.

          In doing so, I impetuously thought of the games of paths, or curbs, or whatever you want to call it. I think of red arse, old runners on electricity lines, black pudding and that one weekend in May where sun cream sales and the prices of train tickets to Dun Laoghaire are through the roof. I thought of the city I grew up in, for this city, was no longer my city.

The short story above was written by Dubliner Jack McCormack. We at (PB) Left it all original and did very little editing to it so you could enjoy the story to its full content. You may have noticed that some of the grammar content and or the spelling was spelt a different way that is what makes the short story so unique.

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