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1000 Black Lines

:: digital coffee stains on the paper of the blogosphere ::

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Homework Assignment #1

It is almost eight o'clock in the morning and no one stands near the bus stop sign which leans south as if pointing to the forest or Busbee Mountain. This vigilant sign displays the grime of many years remaining upon its post—many years of gathering humble crowds to its small patch of earth. Beneath the bus stop sign an empty green Laura Lynn Mountain Moondrink bottle rests in the damp grass beside a crumpled nondescript foil gum wrapper—remnants of the neighborhood children. The same kids that would cut through the neighbor's yard en route to Ingles to buy soda pop and candy bars.

No one is here today except the heavy fog and a cardinal, which soon disappears like the surrounding landscape. Birds and crickets suggest reality beyond this void with their singing and chirping, but everything else is masked in dark shapes, specters amid this morning mist. The treetops evaporate into the thick clouds of fog—even the top of the utility pole is barely visible. In the damp grass, a white toy car is nestled beneath the old utility pole with its weakly attached upside down sign reading "we buy homes." A fresh new utility pole as been placed next the old gray pole but the cables and wires have not been transferred yet.

The asphalt street has fallen away at the edges to reveal gravel and clay. Grass and weeds have begun their campaign to claim what the asphalt could not. It's where the neighbors would stand near the line of spruce and boxwood hedge, smoke cigarettes, talk about the weather or silently wait for the bus. Some mornings are like that. No one wants to talk. They just want to wait. No one waits today. Only a solo Toyota appears from the east side of the street and disappears into the gray morning mist to the west which leads to Hendersonville Road.

It’s been this way since Hurricane Ivan came through and changed the order of things. Streets cluttered with locust limbs and oak branches divert traffic to wider more secure roads. The bus route changes. People migrate to other places. The old patch of ground near the bus stop sign becomes vacant.

Everything disappears today, the cars, the people, the houses, the road, and the sun. A child cries somewhere in the fog and like everything else this morning, the cry is swallowed up in anonymity. A hint of a breeze reveals in the grass along the hedge a discarded Baked Apple Pie container from McDonalds. Probably discarded sometime last week before the hurricane hit the city. Before water and electric became so precious. Before flushing a toilet became a forgotten luxury. And for a few days the city understands what it's like to be anywhere else but America.

The air sweetens from dank earth to moist foliage. The western crest of the street is now visible and a blue Pontiac immerges from the retreating fog with the drama of a thirty-second television car commercial. As the auto’s engine noise fades into the distance, a whistle is heard. Someone whistles from a house to the north, tweet-tee-tee-ta-tee-tee-ta. As if on cue, the sun burns a hole through the gray wisps and in minutes the fog begins to clear. Dark shadows become green trees, red roofs and blue skies. Yet the sunlight confirms no one is at the bus stop. She, like many others, has moved to the new bus stop sign that is closer to the stream of fossil fuel burning vehicles that flow north to south, south to north.

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