Late Night Neighborhood Read Count : 9

Category : Stories

Sub Category : YoungAdult
I sit on the very edge of my bed with my elbows rested gently on the window sill and the blanket I use as a temporary curtain draped around me to close off all the light from my bedroom lamp. It is late and the rest of my neighborhood appears to be asleep except for the dim flickering of a bonfire in the backyard of a house towards the end of my block. I press my cigarette to my lips and feel the tingling of the menthol filter as I inhale the toxins and the nicotine. The end of the cigarette glows orange, the only way anyone on the ground below would know someone was sitting in the window above.
The night is calm, the breeze is slight but there and the sound of the leaves moving in the trees around the house is almost silent. To those who aren’t paying attention, it’s as if they’re as still as boulder in the middle of a field. But for me, completely in tune with my surroundings this evening, the rustling is quiet but there. I can hear the sound of crickets in the grass below me as well as the occasional croak of a frog and the distant meow of a stray and hungry cat. 
I take another hit from my cigarette and exhale the cloud of smoke out the open window where a screen used to be. I tap the ash off the edge and watch as it drifts to the ground, breaking apart and blowing with the wind into the night. I admire the night sky. There are no clouds and the stars are shining bright above me. It is such a clear night that I can see constellations I recall learning about in high school some seven almost eight years back. I see satellites blinking and drifting across space beyond our atmosphere, moving quickly from one side of my point of view to the other before disappearing from my sight. 
Airplanes travel across the sky as well, their blinking lights a little brighter and closer than that of the satellites but still a great distance away. I hear the subtle humming of their engines as they reach their closest point to where I am and then the humming drifts into silence as they too disappear from my view. 
With another hit from my cigarette, I close my eyes and imagine the people on those flights. Where are they going? Where are they flying from? Are they alone? On business? On vacation? Are they escaping an unhappy situation in hopes of better things or are they traveling to visit a sick or dying relative? I wonder if they are thinking about the thousands of cities and small towns they are flying over during their travels and I’m curious as to if they are thinking the same thoughts as me, but about those on the ground. What are they doing? Why aren’t they sleeping? As they alone? Are they working? Or cutting loose? Are they stuck in unhappy situations, imagining escaping to better things, or are they with sick or dying relatives that they never moved far from? The airplanes above are never in my line of sight long, they move too fast as they succeed in their job to relocate people in the quickest way possible from one end of the world to the next. 
My thoughts of what it would be like to fly are interrupted by a creaking bike wheel about a block away. As it gets closer, the creaking gets louder. The rider is moving slowly through the streets and my curiosity wanders to “why?” I look as far to the side of my window as I can, hoping to catch a glimpse of this late night bike rider creeping through the quiet streets of this little town in one of the street lamps shining down on the asphalt of the road. The creaking gets louder and louder as they inch closer to the side of my house which my window is on until finally, I see them. They appear to be a young adult, maybe even a teenager who is out passed curfew just trying to get home before their parents notice. I am surprised when I see their companion trailing behind them on foot, silently. I have my answer as to why they are riding their bicycle so slowly through town. They want their friend or acquaintance of sorts to be able to keep up. I watch them as they continue down the street, disappearing and reappearing as they move from under the street lights and into the few feet of darkness. I think to myself, “I hope they make it wherever they are headed and that the rest of their night is filled with joy and love.” 
My cigarette is almost out. I toss it out of the open window and watch as the orange glow floats gently to the yard below. I continue to watch it after it lands in the dew covered grass and stays lit bright orange for about eight seconds before beginning to die out and then suddenly disappearing. I can no longer see the litter of my smoking habit but I know it is still there, and will be for many days to come. 
I am distracted by the sound of voices but I am unable to pinpoint their location. I assume that they are coming from the house near the end of my street where one of my neighbors is having the bonfire. I hope they cannot see this far and into my window as I write about this evening, with the glow of my phone screen lighting up just my face.
I am intrigued by the lack of traffic on my street this evening, a usually somewhat busy street with a car passing by every few minutes, hasn’t seen a single vehicle since I sat down on the edge of my bed and began my nighttime routine of surrounding awareness and inspirational meditation. 
I can hear the sound of car after car, semi after semi, and motorcycle after motorcycle on the highway a block north of my house where people slow down as they enter city limits or speed up as they are leaving them. The highway is busier than normal at this time, even for a Friday night. I find myself wondering where they are all coming from or where they are all going. I imagine bonfires all over the countryside and in neighboring towns as everyone celebrates the holiday weekend and the last glimpse of summer.
It is a perfect night for a bonfire. The wind is low and the skies are clear. The air is just cool enough to enjoy the heat of the fire while wearing a sweatshirt and jeans and not get too warm, while still having the slight chill to remind us all that autumn is truly just around the corner. With that thought, it occurs to me that while I have been sitting here for quite some time now, I am just starting to notice the drop in temperature from earlier in the evening and that my chosen attire of shorts and a tank top will no longer suffice for the remainder of my awakening as my arms and legs fill with goosebumps from the cold of the darkness and the night. 
I look around my street once more and I completely stunned by the lack of movement and happenings of my neighbors. Houses I can see through the trees are all dark, except one, which has every light on that I know of from where I am sitting, yet no one is walking, talking, driving or showing a sign of potential life anywhere. I assume the majority of these neighbors of mine are camping for the holiday weekend, or visiting friends and family in more exciting cities than this one for their last weekend of summer. Something most people make a tradition out of. 
Not me. This is where I want to be, lost in a sea of thought and gratitude for life as I gaze upon my sleeping neighborhood and light another cigarette. I don’t need to leave this place to feel content...I am happy right where I am, sitting on the edge of my bed with my elbows rested on my window sill and the blanket I use as a temporary curtain draped around me to close off all the light from my bedroom lamp. It is late and I watch as the rest of the street sleeps quietly and peacefully. 

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  • Aug 31, 2019

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