Assignment for Creative Writing Now, the "Daydream Technique". Description piece.
| The air is warm, although the sun disappeared hours ago. The sky is starless, clouds covering every inch painting the canvas overhead a dark purplish brown, illuminated throughout. The moon is full, casting a beautiful ring of glowing fog all around its shape in front of me, slightly to my right and through some trees.
I walk along the right side of an empty one-way street, lined with small houses on the opposite side. To my right is a patch of neatly manicured grass leading down to a quiet, muddy-looking pond, clearly man-made. The cement under my feet isn't brand new, but it isn't all broken and cracked with weeds poking out, either. The grass beside me is suddenly eaten up by black pavement I can just see the corner of from beneath the wide-slatted beige wooden fence. The pavement isn't in such nice of shape as the sidewalk. The fence goes on another twenty feet or so, lined with small round buttons of bush, each bulbous shape about twenty inches in diameter. Instead of grass growing beneath them there are white pebbles. Behind one I spot a stick about an inch thick and the length of my forearm. One end has a jagged point to it, a tip where the other half was broken off unevenly. I pick it up and begin to smack it in the palm of my hand.
I'm not watching where my feet are carrying me, occupied instead with the chain-link gate I'm approaching, and my foot dips down unexpectedly into the curved sidewalk bending into an entryway through the gate. I catch my footing and run the stick in my hands against the fence, making a rattling sound that echoes through the empty street. The vibrations rattle my hand, making my skin feel funny, tickled.
As I peer through the fence I can see a low but long tan brick building, full of garage doors and long white vans backed up to them. The vans have black logos painted on them but I don't care to stare long enough to read them. The black pavement is in worse condition the closer to the building, and the lower it slopes downward. I see a few pick-up trucks parked in the distance haphazardly, as if the lot were a free-form parking area.
I finally reach the end of my gate and step back up onto the sidewalk. There's nothing more to see. The beige wooden fence I know wouldn't make such an appealing echoing ring if I continued to run my stick along it, so I drop it into the bushes again. Looking for a new way to occupy myself while I walk, I turn my head to study the houses on the other side of the road.
Most of them are tall, narrow houses with small yards, designed for city living. A few bushy trees pepper some of the front lawns. A break in the opposite side of the road, a three-way intersection, shows cars traveling along a slightly higher traffic road parallel to the one I'm on.
Most of the lights are out, but one house I pass, on the corner of this three-way intersection, has the curtains drawn wide open and I can see a television on in an otherwise dark living room. I squint to see what might be playing on the TV - a habit of mine - and I notice a man sitting at a desk having a conversation with someone I gather to be another celebrity. A late-night talk show. I imagine the person in front of the TV covered in a long blanket stretched out on a recliner, the remote resting on one armrest and a mostly-eaten bowl of popcorn on the other. The person is probably sleeping.
While I'm concentrating on the stranger's house, I suddenly hear footsteps behind me, very close. My own movements almost falter but I try to keep in step with the pace that I've been walking, trying to seem as though I didn't notice. But my whole body feels hot and the air I try to push through my lungs feels thicker. I force a deep breath, and my eyes dart around the scenery in front of me, scanning for other cars, burning lights, anyone who could help if I suddenly need it.
I hadn't heard any car or house doors open, and I certainly would have heard someone coming through the rattling chain-link gate just behind me.
I immediately pull my phone out of my pocket and pretend as though I just received a message. I hold the phone up to my ear and pretend to make a call. I mutter into the mouthpiece as if I'm taking directions from someone I should be meeting. I tip my head upward, making a show of looking up to check for traffic on the one-way street, but with the stranger behind me I don't want to turn around and face him so I'm thankful I only have one direction to check.
I step off the sidewalk into the road. My foot crunches an old cardboard cup covered in dirt in the gutter, and I nearly leap out of my skin at the unexpected sound. Still trying to keep my cool, I prattle on over the phone, speaking low, and veer backward toward the street I passed.
A dog barks in the distance, and the sound is strangely comforting to me. I listen carefully to the direction and try to pick out where I hear it from. I imagine the dog is tied up in a back yard, probably a block ahead of me and to my left, nearly opposite of the moon's position. I decide to make the house with the angry dog my new destination.