Plugs

Read Rudi’s story “Detail from a Painting by Hieronymus Bosch” at Behind the Wainscot.

Luc Reid writes about the psychology of habits at The Willpower Engine. His new eBook is Bam! 172 Hellaciously Quick Stories.

Jason Fischer has a story appearing in Jack Dann’s new anthology Dreaming Again.

Kat Beyer’s Cabal story “A Change In Government” has been nominated for a BSFA award for best short fiction.

Day Street

by Susannah Mandel

(From The Knowledge: An A-To-Zed Of That City We Almost Know)

It will probably be dusk by the time you turn onto Day Street. The brick house-fronts will be darkening with approaching evening; between the chimney-stacks, the blue is draining out of the sky. The lawns are converging, with the brickwork and the trees, into a mass of indistinct purplish-gray. Out of that dusk, the legs of lawn furniture gleam fitfully; the white fences holding in the back yards; the curtains in the windows. The pavement, stretching before you down the street and trailing perpendicular paths up to the stoops, luminesces faintly under your feet like a phosphorescent wake.

The air is soft along Day Street. Past your ears float breezes, and the sound of voices talking; not out here, on the sidewalk empty except for one walker, but coming from somewhere very close, just over a white fence, just around the corner.

As you pass the house, a light comes on behind the translucent curtains. There is a movement of shadows in the window; a barely audible clatter of silver, a muted murmur of conversation. Up and down the street, just like in Magritte’s painting The Empire of Lights, the streetlamps are flickering on.

Above the roofline, the chimneys and the satellite dishes have been reduced to silhouettes. Above them, in a band of limpid blue, one bright star is coming out in the west. Very high up, a curve of light has pooled, like a rim of salt along the edge of the world.

A person could stand here for quite some time, looking at the streetlights, the sky. But it is possible that it may be time to lower your eyes, to move on down the street. It is possible that you have someplace you need to be.

The air you move through down Day Street is grey and gentle, cool and faint, suspended between the darkness and day. The pavement is an auroreal glow beneath your feet. In the darkened houses, all down the street, the lights are beginning to come on in the windows. The silver is starting to clink.

In the dew-laden grass, the flowers yawn. The wind is bright and silent: clear, cool, clean-smelling, as the air is just before dawn. Seeping upward from somewhere behind the houses, behind the one bright eastern star, the sky is beginning to turn blue. As you pass beneath them, following the pale line of the madrugal pavement, the long row of streetlamps, one by one, begin to flicker out.

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3 Responses to “Day Street”

  1. Luc Reid Says:

    January 21st, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    Lovely, though I reserve the right to be distractible while reading non-plotted fiction. I really liked linking the painting in. I gotta do me some more of that. Actually, I’m looking forward to writing some stories based on the work of some of the artists we’ve identified.

  2. Daniel Says:

    January 21st, 2009 at 8:13 pm

    Evocative and lush. I like the feeling this conjures and like Luc I think it is cool how you linked the Magritte painting. I think you may be inspiring a trend here, Sussanah…

  3. Rudi Says:

    January 22nd, 2009 at 2:39 am

    I liked this one a lot, but then highly descriptive pieces with understated
    plots are right up my alley.
    (Or right down my twilit street, as the case may be.)
    By the end, I do have the sense of at least the ghost of a plot.