Outside the City of Glass

 By Kjetil Jansen        

     Our city within a city. Sprinkles my dreams with emeralds. Always has, always will. Houses in every geometric shape you can and cannot imagine. Rectangle, rhombus, hexagon, a simple triangle. One thing in common: they are all surrounded by, or engulfed in, a quadrant of green glass.

     You can openly watch how the residents move between floors in their vertical apartments. Depending on the light, they are vibrantly visible, mere blots, or silhouettes with multiple shadows. It is impossible to pass from one room to another without walking through a maze of glass. According to the man and wife architects, their intention was to show that every move you make in life is a journey, a rite de passage filled with intent, anticipation, and wonder.

    There is one exception, and a very notable one, the trapezoid high-rise. Too impractical. They had to bend their principles. The elevator became the wanderer. Situated on the outside of the façade, it travels sideways, thus including every apartment to remind the tenants they are all connected. Some people on the upper floors are not too thrilled with this arrangement.

    The architects lived on the outskirts of our city. In the Tower, as some call it. The house is porcupine and round, slightly askew, and much smaller than the glass, as encased in amber. The pair kept much to themselves. Once there was a child, rumor has it. They had built a balcony on the inside of the glass, sat at night and gazed at the stars.

     Who knows, perhaps they got bored of the tinted view. At the time, let us not forget, the outer city was getting larger. Its lights, and fumes, made even the moons shy away. Whatever their reasons, they cut away some of the glass and expanded the balcony. Further and further, until it touched the very sky itself. Soon they spent all their time up and away.

     The house itself went into disrepair. The glass got dirty and lost its luster. I recall a long garden table covered with a white damask cloth held in place by two ceramic vases. People began to trespass, brought music, and made dirty patterns on the linen. A perfect rumba. Until others made the dance insane. 

     A friend of mine claims to have seen the couple. They sit on the very tip of their bridge to heaven, holding hands. Long dead.

     Years have indeed passed. Our part of the city has fallen on hard times. People tiptoe or hurry through the passages. The glass breaks more easily. It is expensive to replace. We must import it, and you don`t really see if it has the right shade before it is set into place. The high-rise can`t afford it anymore. They use ordinary glass.

     On a clear day, you can spot the couple. The bridge is decaying and curves ever downward. One stormy night, it will snap and hit the ground. At that very moment, the couple will get up and walk. To every house. Where naughty children live, they will slither to their bedroom and destroy the glass corridors around it, consequently give them house arrest for all eternity. 

     And yes. The nice children. They will be whisked far far away. To the green star. To the palace where the sun never sets, and where every meal melts on your tongue. In every room, there are chandeliers and water slides, and an endless pile of toys and playthings.

     Nothing ever breaks apart in the palace on the green star.


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Kjetil Jansen is from Bergen, Norway. Every night he dances beneath the Northern Lights together with his pet polar bears Maul and Maim. Maim is his favorite but don’t tell Maul. He has been/will be featured in Bewildering Stories, Bending Genres, Bear Creek Gazette, and A Thin Slice of Anxiety.



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