A broken barometer sits on the wall, mute on what’s passed, what’s passing, what will pass. It speaks to no one or, more truthfully, speaks only to itself, conducting ambient temperature and pressure as any matter would—gas, liquid, or solid. Its glass face reflects the room around it with the gelid gleam of a fish eye, and the needle, still for some unspecified time now, moves only in imagination. The scores that ring its edges calibrate absent possibilities.
The street is all umbrellas, every soul—excepting yours—under one. Awnings, weakened by age and ravished by wind, wave like pointed serpent tongues. Whatever happened ended, and people emerge in hopes of light cracking along the skyline, dwindling pools in the street, swept pavement, and the restoration of ordered and domesticated realities. Only you still feel the weight of water falling, and whether it is memory or prophecy matters little. It is, and that’s all you need to know. All time shares one weather.
He sits in the back of the café, well away from any window, and, by the time you arrive, empty glasses crowd the table. He’s alone and may have been all along, but each time fresh glasses arrived. Ringing the bottom of many are circles of black, and the same dark rings his mouth— ink from the look of it—deeper than creosote, bitter even to sight. He isn’t smiling, but the pride of his poison is unmistakable, a mark no rubbing erases. The last light to penetrate so deep is gray, the same color as smudged panes or wash water that won’t ever come clean.
Someone keeps a bed of impatiens fed with manure, and so the flowers froth in vividly mixed pink, white, orange, lilac, red, and magenta. Over the summer months, the blossoms mound in the sun, rising like yeasty dough. They watch the sky with faces eager for rain or for someone to shower them with water. They do not care which and expect too much. When the flowers begin to fade, it will be from the inside out, their springy stems bowing and browning in shadows they created themselves.
Hungers feed by doubling, as if they want more of themselves and would delay satisfaction forever. The present unfolds infinitely, fabric streaming like water gushing from a new-pierced well. It issues from somewhere deep and unseen, and, unlike water, nothing breaks its weave. This hunger serves no one. Rename it as something else if you can, but you won’t make it what you wish. You can’t reach it to rein it or ride it. It’s never yours entirely, though it seems only yours.
No witness remains to explain when or how flames started. Heat breathed first at your ankles, and then, red from the periphery circled you with news of a coming storm. You made this storm, but no escape remains by the time you notice, and soon even the distant sky pulses orange as from a flickering candle. There is no candle, or perhaps it’s all the candles burning to spend themselves. From so far away you can’t hear voices or see bubbling surfaces erupt in contagious flame. You can’t hear even yourself shouting into the air rushing to feed the destruction.
The typical gusts die away, and, though the air isn’t still, it embraces what it touches without carrying it. The sun balances against any breeze. Temperature becomes invisible. You don’t have to move—because the planet moves for you—but, if you do, every still lingers. Watch the horizon, and you won’t see the edge of the world transmuted as you usually do—it will be just the same, just different moment to moment. So much of what you know you can count upon, including counting upon knowing always, a story you mean to examine tomorrow.