The city dims.
Against a tinted wall of glass and midnight orange reflection.
There is mine, my reflection. My own face. Face stares forward, eyes black marbles. Beige drapes hang like the skin of a sad old woman, a hungry and frail old woman.
I’m hungry.
Feeling frail.
Sick.
But I’m not a woman.
The city, the universe of twinkling fucking lights, a desert of orange dots spread for miles, for miles and miles. They spread for miles.
For miles.
On.
They spread.
Twinkling fucking orange lights, a black sheet of construction paper stuck with a billion pinholes.
Cars honk.
Speed by.
The reflection of me stands up, up off the bed and drifts. Drifts passed the nightstand reflection, passed the armchair reflection, the desk piled with clothes and collected garbage. To the slider door where real me meets reflection me cuts both me’s in half. Into erasure.
Out to the balcony.
Twenty-nine floors above.
Ants upon anthills below.
An immediate rush as the door rolls open, as if God himself turned off the mute. A roar of every sound, of every dense merry-go-round and race car track, of every tornado and siren scream. All of it. In one instant. All of it fills my ears as I step out the hotel room onto the balcony.
Twenty-nine floors above.
Ants upon anthills below.
Eighty-something degree Miami Beach humidity defrosts my seventy-degree air-conditioned skin. There is a moment, a precision cut split second where my body doesn’t know how to react. So I shake. An involuntary vibration starts in my heart with a flutter, moves to the muscle around my legs to my chest, my fingertips. Till my whole body tingles. Turns cold. Then levels to a damp stasis.
Some moron lays on their car horn.
It echoes off the white towers, bounces from one to the other in harmonious concert.
Because the car horn makes such a fucking difference.
One asshole decides the vehicle in front of him is too slow, so he stews for minutes until his fist slams against the horn in a fit of rage. Face red and puffy, venom drips from the corners of his mouth. No doubt some strain of rabies. And in that moment, that fire-fueled instant he smashes a fat fist against the steering wheel, this asshole causes a sound that bombards through the city like a bull in a china shop. This idiot does something that can be heard twenty-nine floors above ground. This wad of snot affects an entire city block with his steeping frustration.
Twenty-nine floors above.
Ants upon anthills below.
This jerk unknowingly set in motion the words you’re reading right now. If our existence was a switchboard of light, an endless board of little lights; some switched on green while others are dark, awaiting activation. No order, no pattern, just chance encounter with a vibration that resonates enough to flip the switch and signal our little green light.
And in this sea of lights and darkened bulbs, my green is activated.
After midnight.
Restless and unable to sleep.
Some douche with a short fuse flipped my switch.
And now I’m flipping yours.
Because that’s how it works.

But anyway.
This ramble is not what I intended. I didn’t mean to waste time telling you about some jackoff and his sticky hands on a horn.
I got sidetracked.
Let’s try again.

Eighty-something degree Miami Beach humidity defrosts my seventy-degree air-conditioned skin. There is a moment, a precision cut split second where my body doesn’t know how to react. So I shake. An involuntary vibration starts in my heart with a flutter, moves to the muscle around my legs to my chest, my fingertips. Till my whole body tingles. Turns cold. Then levels to a damp stasis.
Some moron lays on their car horn.
It echoes off the white towers, bounces from one to the other in harmonious concert.
My husband is asleep inside, swallowed by white down everything. Pillows, comforter – engulfed by Everest.
He snores.
I try to find pattern in his snoring, like maybe it’s sort of a subconscious code. Three short breathy exhales followed by one long, deep snort maybe means he is happy. While two faint inhales punctuated by two medium snorts and three seconds of pause means he is hungry. Or anxious. Or there is an eighty percent chance of rain tomorrow.
Anyway.
He snores.
I look ahead at the other hotel in front of ours. A hundred television screens stacked in rows and columns laid out for my private viewing. The shadow of a man on maybe the sixteenth floor stands at the window facing out. I wonder if he sees me. I wonder if he’s looking at me right now. I wonder if he’s staring at the hundreds of television screens stacked around me. I wonder if he’s waiting to see someone walking around naked. Or having sex. Or fighting. Or –
Someone who may be feeling like him.
Like one of a hundred. A thousand. A million.
Ants in anthills.
A light turns on three floors above and two rooms to the right of him. Their blinds are shut. Six rooms to the left I see a silhouette of someone pacing with their shirt off, talking on the phone. A few more floors up and a couple windows to the right, someone lays in bed watching television.
None of them see me watching; none of them know my light is activated.
Back a few floors down, the first man still stares out his window.
How many people does he see around me? I am the voyeur in my world, the maestro, the conductor; but in his concert I realize I’m merely a player. One of many. An ant in an anthill.
In my world I am Gulliver. While in his I’m a silhouette in the window, a body in a television screen. If he even pays notice. If he’s even looking in my direction.
Otherwise I’m nothing.
Not a thought, not a shape, not a blip on radar.
I’m nothing.
Do I exist?
Do I exist if not gazed upon, not thought about, not admired?
Do I exist if not recognized, not idolized, not paid attention?
Do I exist as an ant in an anthill, a shadow in a window, a twinkling fucking light in a sea of twinkling fucking lights?
Do I exist if no one sees me?
I look back toward the man but he’s gone.
Palms grip the cold balcony rail. Squeeze tight. A chill pierces to the bone. Another gust of thick wind whips; hair tussles, eyes squint. My back arches as I lean into the balcony, a thin sheet of glass dividing me from the pavement twenty-nine floors below.
Breathe the air.
The damp breeze.
The drone of sound.
The whisper of night.
Breathe in thousands of souls not existing together.
Because I can’t see them.
Breathe.
Put on Pink Floyd’s “Breathe (In the Air)”. That moment when the song starts, when the build wraps your throat in screams and a blur of sound until it erupts in an early climax.
Until it rolls back down as a wave of blue and black.
Purple and black.
Until the flood rushes though fire doors in slow motion cinematography.
Until –

Breathe, breathe in the air
Don’t be afraid to care
Leave but don’t leave me
Look around and choose your own ground

Long you live and high you fly 
And smiles you’ll give and tears you’ll cry
And all you touch and all you see
Is all your life will ever be

Palms grip tight. Eyes down. Down to the street below. Red car lights driving a diagonal perspective upward into the distance.
A city alive, faceless.
A city alive in symphonic honk.
Do I exist within it all?
Surrounded by buildings, by invisible bodies and entangled connections.
Do I exist at all?
Palms grip tight. Eyes closed.
Standing atop the rail.
Perfectly upright with the spine of a trained ballerina.
The posture of a great yogi.
Invisible.
Arms outstretched, wind winds my body. A boulder in the stream, water flows round its every curve, every nuance of my mass.
Breathe.
Breathe in the air.
A small sheet of yellow paper caught in the breeze glides, swirls gently up then down, up then down, as if grace weaves itself gently through the air. Against television screens and activated lights. It’s a moment of ethereal beauty captured. A pause in the chaos.
Silence.
The yellow sheet flutters higher now and I think maybe it’s a butterfly.
Another loud honk cuts the stillness.
Inhale.
From atop the balcony, this perfectly upright ballerina gracefully folds into oblivion.
From twenty-nine floors above.
To the ants upon anthills below.

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