Pure Slush

flash ... without the wank

Balcony No. 419

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by Christine Olivas


By the apartment complex they live in, it appears that the residents of unit F419 don’t want you to find them.

First of all, the complex doesn’t have pre-installed light fixtures on its balconies because it’s located by the nature preserve, so residents have to invent their own light sources. Glowing cigarette ends that flicker like turbocharged fireflies. Orbs of yellow light emanating from a variety of electronic devices. A moon-like fog refracting through the glass from the perpetually-on TV screen. The city prohibits bigger lights because they pollute the starry night sky, but that doesn’t make it any easier to perceive the details of the apartment structure. In fact, you can only really see a massive concrete blanket covered in artificial stars.

It is also hard to tell what type of people live in each unit by their balconies. Sure, there are physical details that help the viewer distinguish between the generic spaces—a bold American flag here, one too many potted plants there, an indignant cat perched on the ledge over there—but to really understand the variants of life that separate one initially anonymous tenant from another, you have to get closer. A whole lot closer.

So you zoom in to one floor of Building 4, dart your eyes back and forth like a night predator on the desert floor and finally land on one balcony in particular. You aren’t sure why this one captures your attention, so it takes you a while to focus your eyes. Unlike many of the others, it is without gaudy accessories. It is more like a naturally beautiful woman without makeup, not catching the eye at first but holding a gaze longer than anyone else. A simple paper lantern hangs from the balcony awning above.

You finally perceive two human forms. They are sitting in the dark, silhouettes blurry without a major light source. You can’t hear what they’re saying or what look is in their eyes, but you quickly understand that they don’t mind being alone. And by the way they are touching each other’s faces, you know for sure they’re blind.   


published 2 August 2014