A short story by Omar Abdelhamid
Exhausted from the walk and relieved to have found a seat, I braced myself for the roar of the train as it took off. Suddenly we were in the dark, and I could spot blotches of graffiti on the inside of the tunnel as we whizzed by. I could not think, because my thoughts,unable to keep up with the speed of the iron beast, were left to float in the emptiness of the tunnels, to be ignored, if even noticed, by later commuters. The screech of the friction of the rails as we shot through exhausted my mind, until I could see nothing, I could hear nothing, and I could know nothing. And West shot the beast towards home.
In a minute, there was light. Emerging violently from the darkness like the phoenix himself, I could now process vague images of buildings in the distance, and I saw an outline that could be said to have been worked into the fabric of humanity and time itself.
There was a pattern in the outline I saw, the outline of the buildings from the view of the window. This pattern matched a cycle rooted deeply in my head, a cycle of concentration and disintegration, high and low, success and failure. The image repeated itself throughout the line of buildings, one tall, clean building followed by a short, crippling one, tall and short, high and low.
I saw waves of workers, perched atop the frame of a tall steel building. In the morning they lived in the cage in the sky, and in the evening, returned to a small brick home, where nothing was crisp, and little was all right. They could not reason their way out; all they knew was the hammer, and with their hammers they could not break apart the chains that bound them to the ever downward slope of mankind’s struggles.
But where, I ask, did this slope begin?
And with their hammers they could not break apart the fabric of the reality of the work and the frowns and the tears and the questions and the vastness of ideas and thoughts that they could not begin to ponder.
And did the black smoke rise and fill the scar and sigh? The scar that which is made when metal scrapes the sky?
Yes, from above, I saw it clearly. The states of our work, what is broken and what is unfinished, and then men and women who swing the work from state to state. They worked their hearts away, with full knowledge that when this building, the pride of these men, was done, it would not last forever. It would cripple, rust, and break, in a collaborative effort between man and the entropy of nature, and they were left to reap this misfortune as it dripped down from the sky and into their hands. One cannot use and not destroy.
And will this end, at any rate? I said this out loud, and the eyes around me stared threateningly. One man spoke. ”We cannot change this fate because” he hesitated, realizing the gravity of the truth, “because it has never been changed before. This is how life has flowed, and how it will for evermore.”
Man has nostalgia for the evil in his origin.
In an instant the beast rushed back underground, where there was nothing to be done, no questions to be asked, and darkness and ignorance to be embraced.
In truth, the dust shields our eyes from the decay. What else is there for one to say?