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Chapter information

City Lights



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Release date

May 8, 2014

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(I see her, sometimes.)

There are noises feeding into a constant thrum of white static in the air,
some brief yet loud,
others long yet but a rumble.
They are both caustic and sweet,
rough and smooth,
earthy timbres pressed against heaven's own choir.
The soundtrack against
a sunset-stained sky.

There's this girl, called Korra,
who is one of the few who actually notices me
sitting in the heavy shadows of the alleyway.
I will never forget that look on her face,
the one of bemusement,
maybe a bit of pity,
but also sheer horror,
Because it's winter,
and I'm sitting in an alleyway,
and it's very cold.
She's wearing this jacket,
and it's a strange, silvery color that I can't quite pin down,
because it looks like a brand new nickel,
looks like platinum,
looks like the glow of the moon.
And she seems to be headed to one of the houses
(if you could call them houses)
in the poorer part of this city—
—Otter Falls Borough—
but she stops,
smiles at me,
takes off her jacket,
gives it to me.
"Thank you," I say, because what else do you say to people like her?
"No problem," she says.

She comes regularly after that.

Korra lends me her scuffed, worn, old acoustic guitar for the day.
She says that she's going out,
into the wilderness, that old playground she always goes to.
She's been going there a lot more often recently,
and I don't really know why.
But I don't press her,
because she never presses me.
So I ask her, "What time is it?"
She actually has coffee today,
probably a rare treat,
because the stuff is rather pricy in these parts.
She gives me a once-over,
appraises me,
notices me,
and I hope that she doesn't notice I can't stop looking into her eyes,
because they remind me of BLT girl—
(I see her, sometimes.)
—then Korra hands me the warm cup of pricy coffee without preamble and says, "A quarter to twelve."
Then she leaves.
The drink in my hands, still hot, sends fragrant white steam curling into the air.
Korra doesn't know my name,
but it's better that way,
because I don't know myself.
(Call me John Doe, right?)

Yeah, Korra's guitar is old.
But its strings still tremor with warmth and life when I pick them.
I marveled,
fingers fluttering,
across the burnished strings,
losing myself in the city's soundtrack.
Twangs from the cool and smooth threads underneath my fingertips,
ghosting over skin,
in the language of the universe.

(I see her, sometimes.)

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