There was something about that little big city, the city with skyscrapers rising beyond their means. It lacked a skyline. The only horizon it shared with infinity was the abandoned old town circumferencing its sidewalks. Unlike the multi-storeyed giants, the broken shacks seemed to sprout up like weeds clutching at the loose remains of fertility, sapping in all they could before they were inevitably killed by the giant’s shadow. And yet, ironically, the mighty buildings needed those dark fissures to complete their being just like the bejeweled church needed its tattered pilgrim staring up at its grandeur in admiration, knowing he could only pray to be forgiven for the flaws he held and yet never become flawless enough to dawn the purple velvet and reach a higher God.
It was drizzling when he arrived. The sun had almost set. The gigantic glass exterior of the buildings created a replica of the setting sun on its walls. It made one wonder at the power of the glass to keep the true and false from merging by a fraction of an inch. Ca studied how the geometrical architecture and neat symmetry lent a severe sense of dominance, like an army preparing to march into war. The view from the French glass of the twenty ninth floor of his hotel room made everything seem miniscule beyond recognition, making it hard for him to see the rim of the ghost town which was camouflaged by the synthetic neon of the city.
After much thought, Ca made a call.
“It’s Ca Damon. Tell Mr. Adams I have refused to make the blueprints for his building. No skyscraper shall be built there. And cancel all my meetings for tomorrow”
The Cartier struck midnight.
He put the alarm for 5AM and went to sleep.
Ca boarded the first metro out of the city. He did not need a map to know where he was going, knowing the place would still be where it stood twenty eight years ago. And with that realisation flashed before him all the memories he had locked away the day they took him away to another world. He remembered her everyday. He remembered her face as she said goodbye to him from the broken window of the little blue house one last time before Colonel Damon took away the bleeding ten year old boy into the tank and vanished around the next corner. He remembered coming back to find nobody home.
Getting off at the last station, he looked around. He knew he was in the right place, breathing the air that was once his own. The dark gates of the ghetto stood like guards to an ancient city where every dilapidated building, every burnt house told a story. The decaying houses stood around looking over him as he walked, their remains bringing back a crimson history. Unlike the uniformity of the city, every building held an individualistic appeal and location which was authentic to its being. The early workers stopped to look at the man in the silk jacket.
After fifteen minutes of what seemed like an aimless stroll, Ca stopped before a stained cerulean house with rusty old broken green windows, moss adorning its dewy walls. It had stooped with age. But every part of the tattered building proved its strength, demanding the attention of the higher God with all its flaws intact.
It had been thirty five years since the war ended, but the memories of his past still remained in the house. Sitting on the porch, holding his mother’s kerchief, Ca looked at the silhouette of the gigantic monsters, monsters he had built all his life to hide the broken glass of his frayed home. No more.
“I did it for you, ma.”
In that moment, he realized it had never been him looking over the town; it was the town that had looked over him all along.