There’s the air of a stranger in this place tonight. I’ll run to my room in the basement to pick up a power cable for my laptop or a set of DVDs to rip and I’ll stand in the doorway for a few moments, moments that turn to minutes, and look around at a room that’s no longer mine. And it seems strange, to have possessed a place so thoroughly, so intimately, where before was the essence of the bare walls stripped, replaced, where in the glow of my candles or my eclectic blend of posters and art, walls lined with too many books, now there’s empty spackled space with dark smudges, pin holes if you look too close. This is not the same place. It seems smaller and vacant. Which gives this odd oppositional feel, that if we cannot possess the room then we should make it a stranger. And so now it is a space where I cannot sleep. The bare mattress like the walls is naked and bare and says if I’m done with it then be off and so tonight I’m on the couch.

When I open the window for air it brings with it the slow reek of fire. It’s that distinct smell of a forest fire up the canyon not far from where we live. It’s a different brand of smell like a different brand of cigarettes, if so subtle, but you know the smell. There is no plastic chemical odor of melting homes nor the sharp smell of a campfire. This is what the end of the world smells like. All it’s missing is the scent of the catalyst, whatever chemical agent, metallic casing, a defensive strategy and the necessary sacrifices. The fire will strip the branches and the leaves from the trees and turn the world black where I left mine white but both will grow back and the fire will fall from the sky or plane or whatever carelessly lost cigarette butt some other time and in some other place.

Air of a Stranger

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