There is a city in your city, roiling under it, blistering in the cracks of the sidewalks that break your mother’s back, snickering in the needle-thin slices of back alley brick walls, streaked with urine and whiskey and don’t-give-a-shittery. You think this city is dying, cracking open its crusty eyes at hours of the night when the bars have closed – door locked, shades drawn, you are safe under your duvet and the closet is free of monsters, skeletons swept from spiderwebbed corners. You think that second city is breathing a sigh of relief closer to never reopening its greying eyelids, as it ODs on bliss, and soon it will sink and the only city that will remain is yours, the daytime castle city, the one you know when you pull open your shutters to the morning sun whispering through the arbutus trees. It unfolds your day.
But bliss is a tease and disguises itself well, and in a bar one day where you didn’t expect to find it, it buys you a drink – on the rocks, with bite, a good you didn’t expect to like. When bliss traipses over the welcome mat of your house, it’s not because it burst its way in, door dangling off the hinges – no, you invited it in, and smiled coyly as it kicked its feet up and tracked mud on the ottoman. It stays as the hours shrink together, and when sunrise kisses your intertwined arms, you feel like you’re six again and discovered the well-hidden Christmas presents. This secret is yours. Be giddy. Hide it. Grin to yourself and know nothing compares, nothing compares to this slice of a vice. The laughter bubbles out of you, spills over your edges.
The next morning the daylight is not as bright, and you keep the shades drawn to ease the heartbeat in your eyeballs. It thuds as you chase the faded footprints left on your white rug. They bloom in your vision, though this blemish is a shade of light your old friends’ retinas can’t capture. The footprints consume you until you’ve burned down the house around you trying to pick them out, because now you can see, and you know, and your excuses won’t keep your hands clean – everything you touch turns grimy, sick, rotten, dying in the all-consuming spider web that only spins bigger every time the sun sinks behind the arbutus trees. Your thoughts turn to your open window and the spill of orange across the horizon; the glow that used to greet you now kisses you goodnight. Something has changed. But before you can chase after the thought, the doorbell rings and you smile. Bliss laces its fingers through yours and tells you, come out to play.
Welcome to your new city.
We’re glad to have you.