The Note Before

It lay there, crinkled and tattered, the dirt of a million shoe prints slowly clinging to its yellowing surface. A rat skittered past, not so much as sniffing the very thing that reeked more of death than the rat itself. In the distance, farther up the culvert, brown water seeped inevitably over cracked concrete towards it, and the crumpled paper had not the power to leap out of the way.

The man had exhausted his options. He began to stare forlornly at a place in the white plaster wall of his apartment where the cracks resembled a rabbit. He kept thinking of ways to kill the rabbit with sledgehammers, with razors, with his bare hands. The rabbit grinned at him, as if to invite the man to give it his best shot. The man continued to stare.

Mother robin returned to find her nest and children gone. She frantically flew in high arcing circles, crying for her young, everything in her senses telling her something was very wrong. Below, men who smelled of tree sap and gasoline carted away her home in pieces, often stepping on small black feathers as they left the forest.

The man’s cell phone sat in the corner, half under a tattered brown recliner. It contained the contact information of dead people, the ghosts of the de-friended, and the cheap plastic case had a cigarette burn mark on the rear corner. He had given up on calling people; although he had many numbers, he had no one to talk to. No one, that is, but the rabbit.

In a large warehouse in an overly humid rural county, an overweight woman with three kids and no husband spent long hours at a machine. She sat there and watched a small gauge, and periodically jotted down figures on a worn clipboard. At a conveyor belt behind her, a man and woman watched reams of paper move past. Periodically they whispered insulting comments to each other about the overweight woman, who occasionally would nod off to sleep.

The man carefully cleaned the window in his apartment that faced the street. He rubbed out stains left by automotive pollution and wayward pigeons. He used most of a brand new roll of cheap two-ply toilet paper as he scrubbed. At one point he stopped and saw his reflection. In the streaks, dirt, and glare, it looked much like the rabbit.

The man sat at his desk with a pen and sheet of paper. He began to write, often pausing and searching for the right words. When he found them, he began to cry. But no one hugged him to say everything would be alright. Then, after a few minutes, the chair was empty.

A homeless woman pushed her shopping cart along the sidewalk. It was filled with American flags, picture frames, lamps, and other treasures of the street. Her wandering eyes caught sight of a penny in the gutter, next to crumpled piece of paper. She picked it up, and for reasons she did not understand herself, she also picked up the piece of paper.

The river ran joyously down the mountainside towards the town, clean and blue and shining with the reflection of sunlight. Large rusting pipes emptied into it on the outskirts of the city, and from there it twisted brown and lifeless under the rusting bridges and corroding overpasses populated by indifferent commuters. Things that once swam floated there, one eye facing the sky.

The window in the man’s apartment was open, and the sunlight gleamed on the freshly cleaned window. On the ledge outside, a crumpled piece of paper caught the twilight breeze, rolled, then slowly descended to the street. It landed in the gutter amongst the bottle caps and candy bar wrappers, about fifteen feet from the chalk outline on the sidewalk.

The homeless woman opened up the paper and read the first line, which said, “Do you know what it’s like to have lost all hope of love?” Grunting with distaste, she crumpled it up and threw it back in the gutter, where a swell of murky water drowned it away. A tear formed in her transient eyes, and she wiped it gently with a small flag from the cart. Upstairs, a cracked plaster rabbit silently observed it all through the window.

Image licensed from Congerdesign via Pixabay, CC O, Public Domain

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Michael Burns and Baydream Creative helps take your enterprise to the next level by writing your Creative Digital Content; and performing Creative Content Consulting to bring out the best new ideas for your business and personal growth.

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