Eden

Despite the fact every object was in its place, there was something very different about the highway that day. The swirling Coca-Cola sign by North Avenue was there as was the Morton’s Salt girl with her usual purple umbrella. It seemed that there was a new light shining down from the sky, as if a new and better sun had come to take the place of the old one. Every street sign, every license plate, every roadside abandoned suitcase flirting trails of underwear and paper- these things were stitched together by the speedometer into a beautiful and elaborate story that was life. An overpass raised the car in time to the sweeping music on the radio. The rectangularly planted garden of lightbulbs beneath the Wendy’s sign flashed ‘have a nice day.’ The boy used to scoff at the phrase inevitably typed in by some minimum-wage hamburger flipper on orders from a corporate phone call. Today, however, the boy’s hand swiftly rose over the windshield of the red convertible and gave the sign a timely salute. The car approached the crest of the incline and let the boy peer down on a miniature world of six city streets. Culture’s wave rushed through him with the breeze as he scanned the Latino mosaics that curtained brick walls in the alleys. Three young black girls skipped rope as two bikers rode by. People that would normally appear and disappear in a blur stood individual- each becoming an intriguingly beautiful novel boasting pain and strife that rivals Aeschylus; happiness and fortune that not even Aristophanes could match: all in an eight second world that would soon be out of view only to be replaced by another, and another. Nearing the Loop exits, the red car slipped into a lit tunnel. The orange-yellow bars of light slid over the hood of the convertible, onto the trunk, then back to the pavement. One by one by one. A two second blast of daylight suggested the end of one tunnel and the beginning of another. The long chamber’s close concrete walls allowed each car’s motorsong to be bounced up to the ceiling where it met with all the others forming the warmest chord. As daylight again filled the sky, the notes faded away behind him. Over the sound’s last seconds came gentle horn beeps from atop the Adams Street bridge, signalling the beginning of the second movement. It was a brisk piece that welcomed the low trombones of shaky tires on the metal bridge above the Chicago River. A fervent allegro that was the rush of the nine to fivers; the plight of the Tribune clutching pinstriped. Children oogled at the Picasso at Daley Center so charismatically that the boy in the red car was positive that Pablo had built it just for them- and just for today. The heaven-sent day was drawn to a close on Sheridan Road and Lake Shore Drive was kind enough to pave the way right to it. The trees whispered all of life’s secrets- the stoplight’s careful colored patterns cleared up anything the trees left to chance. As the Bahá’í Temple passed on the left, all fell silent. The car coasted just above ground, engine silent. The boats in the harbor swayed in slow-motion. The world stopped speaking. All had been said.

A prairie not far away lost a tree. It was a small tree that now laid on its side in the tall dry grass. The glistening dirt at its foot let an old passerby know that it was recently uprooted. A small bundle of red ants crawled gently about its wound as if to caress the pain away. The new orange sun began to slip off the western edge of the sky, making the forest wall to the east lonely. A half-hour later, the sky belonged to the white crescent moon. The forest wall was frightful and pallid. The old passerby ambled back home through the moonlight. He stopped to look again at the uprooted sapling. He saw the dirt was now dry, and the ants had gone away. His large, bent shadow traversed the meadow and slipped into the forest. The moon stood silent still.