by Sean Hower
Blake had no air conditioning in his apartment so he got into the habit of leaving his bedroom window open during the night. The cool breeze did a pretty good job at bringing the temperature down to livable.
On one night though, that same breeze began to play with the tag on Blake’s pillow, flapping it into his face and waking him. He folded the tag under the pillowcase and went back to sleep, only to be awakened by it crackling in his ear with each breath he took. He tried ignoring it, but the sharp noise raked his nerves as surely as if someone had been using a jackhammer to tear up the parking lot.
It didn’t take Blake long to go from mildly annoyed to completely pissed off. In a rage, he snatched up the pillow and tore off the tag. The sound echoed through his apartment, like fingernails dragged down a chalkboard, and set every piece of glass vibrating. The light bulbs were the first to burst, then the drinking glasses in the kitchen, then his windows, and finally the patio door. The sound spread out from his apartment like a shock wave, sending shivers through everything it touched.
A bit perturbed, Blake got out of bed. He went down stairs to his living room, careful not to step on the glass that littered the floor. He tried turning on the light and, when it didn’t come on, realized that the bulb had been blown out.
A tiny green light did flicker into life over his couch though. It sputtered for a moment then softened into a diffuse glow that made the hairs on Blake’s arms stand. The light breathed, caressing every forgotten nook of Blake’s apartment with loving warmth only to retreat to the safe confines of the more common areas.
Then, a pinpoint of white light popped into existence where the green had originated. It quickly split into two points of light, then into four, then eight, and continued like this until a translucent sphere the size of a golf ball was floating at eye level. The ball burst into thousands of tiny specks that stippled Blake’s living room. The points crept into a waltz that moved in time with the breathing.
Blake went into the kitchen, grabbed a plastic cup, filled it with water, and downed it. He checked the clock on his microwave. It was already quarter to five. He normally got up at six. It really wasn’t worth going back to bed and it was clearly too early to go in to work. He didn’t really know what he should do.
Stymied by what were clearly inferior options, Blake had another cup of water. Finally, he settled on going in to work, so he took a leak and went back up stairs to get dressed. A few minutes later, he was on the road cursing the pillowcase tag for its interference in his life.
In the brilliant morning light, the speckles in Blake’s apartment began to wink out. The breathing lost its passion and fell silent, and when the last of the points vanished, the diffuse glow flickered away with no one to witness its passing. All that was left were the thousands of tiny shards of glass and their sun-cast rainbows that would also go unnoticed.
Copyright © 2004 by Sean Hower