The opening chapter to my NaNoWriMo novel, Written on Air. I have three chapters written, each about a 1000 words. I'm going to write the rest of it this month, 1700 words each day.

The Fugitive

The window is open.

The mustering darkness is dissected by flickering city lights. The stars are a well-kept secret, a gaggle of shy maidens cavorting behind flimsy veils of pulsing neon beams, dancing and twinkling when they think no one is looking.

Chilly breezes waft in through the window bearing the memorized scents of grease and garbage and sweat and the thickened, recycled frying oil that smears the alleys of the city like tar running down the face of barrels. A failed effort to beat the suffocating heat and the need to use deodorants while home, especially when dealing with faulty heating systems that come on in 90-degree weather.

Screaming sirens cut through the night like rusty knives scraping the inside of heads too tired to protest one more intrusion of the city that consumes all, demands all. Broken glass shimmers beneath the harsh yellow street lamp, a mix of bottle and plate glass from an accident involving vehicles and genies in brown bottles. The atmosphere creeps in, silently, a reassuring presence in a life that is without bearing, without roots, without permanence, a furtive fugitive, a kiss with no place to land.

I am 22 years old.

I am sitting by the window in a friend's apartment in a giant city that is not home, but strangely feels like home. We're living in the same apartment, but we're each in our own world.

There is an entire city outside the window, pulsing and alive and caught up in a gyrating rhythm vibrant with purpose. Each person I have seen in this city has a purpose, a destination, a reason for being where they are at each precise minute. I have a goal and where this city plays into it is still fuzzy. I have been here since Saturday, mooching off friends and feeling guilty about it all the time.

I am a dork and a nerd. I can go entire days without talking and no one will notice. I spend entire days reading by myself. I am sociophobic. I even fear talking to people over the phone and I fumble when I'm doing that. Apparently I must be a pretty decent actress since people tell me I don't come off as anything like that. Mostly I get that sort of comment from the people I see at the clinics I work at. I'm always told I'm confident, well-prepared and I can make people comfortable with me and talk to me. I'm terrified of dealing with kids, especially babies the little ones spook me. I suck at staying in touch with people, and I'm really awkward and uncomfortable with myself most of the time. I have never owned makeup beyond eyeliner and lip gloss and I have no idea how to use anything else.

And oh yeah, I'm a medical student.

I turned 22 last week. Not a very fun birthday, but well, very few of my birthdays have actually been memorable. And I don't have pictures from any single birthday that I've celebrated. All I have is memories and pictures drawn in butterfly dust, a gift or two that remains hidden in the debris of three years of a rootless life. Everytime I begin to put down roots, I uproot them and leave, and none of it is by choice.

Perhaps this is what a vocation entails. I cannot say why I am drawn to the career I live and breathe every waking moment. I cannot say what holds me here. I love to write more than I love to study. I spend study time reading novels on my computer. I write poetry when I'm deep in study mode or in classrooms, though I still answer most questions asked of me. I love to teach, I love to learn. I like medicine.

Love and like are philosophical concepts, perhaps. Mayhap they are a matter of what qualifies as soul. Likely they are the same, but to me they're different. Like yogurt and milk love may evolve from like, but like does not always evolve into love; and once it has evolved into love, it can never unevolve into like. Is that even a word unevolve? Or is it a neologism?

I have a strange and weird attraction to windows. They close me in and they set me free. They make me feel secure. They are the most important part of my cocoon. Windows are welcoming and they are scary. They are crazy and zany and my life revolves around them. They are functional and they are comfy. There is quite nothing like sitting in a window seat on a wintry evening, warm and with a soft blanket, a mug of steaming hot chocolate, soft winter music and a book of the best poems ever written while snow flakes fall outside, making love to every nude spot on the face of the earth, and the sun watches benevolently as he makes his way to bed for the long winter night.

So I sit by a window tonight in a new city in the welcome of a friend's apartment on a hot summer evening, piecing together thoughts and words and dealing with the idiosyncrasies of hierarchy and kissing ass, trying to put together a piece of incongruous poetry. I have always associated windows with poetry. Wordsworth had his daffodils and his bay, and I have my windows and my cities and his poems.

I am a fugitive with nothing but the memories in my head and the words at my fingertips, and I have just come to the city. The windows are open, the light spills out and the night spills in. I inhale the sickening sweet smell of honeysuckle nourished by endless streams of beer-pee, and I know this is almost home.

Short story by Arti
Read 1229 times
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Written on 2008-11-03 at 01:19

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Kathy Lockhart
fantastic writing! I am ready for some more Arti. You are so gifted. God handed you the basket full of gifts and you are a blessing to all to whom you have shared these wonderful gifts. Like handing out the sweetest peaches, you give of your basket of gifts with generosity. Thanks for each peach you share. They are delicious! : ) xx kathy

great write and looking forward to more episodes to fill these pages of heart felt words. Loved the description between these thoughts.