Are you here?
It is autumn. A leaf falls off a skeletal tree and drifts towards the cracked cement. Its edges are ragged and curled inwards. It touches the ground softly, and stills.
The street is desolate, and you are alone, save a car built in the '70s and the trees lining the streets with their branches naked and trunks exposed. And in the sky, there is only the infinite grey of looming cloud. It hasn't rained in thirteen weeks.
You shove your hands in your pockets and amble along the cracked path, eyes at your feet and ears acute. On the ground, you find a lone cockroach scuttling along the path, but it doesn't bother you. You find brown leaves, nothing more than sawdust, and broken twigs. The masses of dead leaves clog the dry stormpipe, as does a cumulative clutter of litter: aluminium cans, MacDonald's packaging, pieces of plastic and forgotten pocket accessories.
You wish it would rain. The air is humid and you haven't slept for weeks. You were supposed to attend a party yesterday, but you had planned a convenient headache in order to excuse yourself from sweaty socialising on a crowded dancefloor.
Two weeks ago, you stopped thinking.
You stopped reading four weeks ago.
And six weeks ago, you stopped making art.
It makes you wonder what had compelled you to find yourself on a neglected street of houses without a home and trees nothing more than forgotten memories, stripped of their former glory. Maybe it's a place of enlightenment.
You chuckle to yourself. That was a joke. You hadn't made jokes for a while. Ten weeks, to be precise.
To be honest with yourself, you don't know what you're doing with your life. And you reach the end of the street, and stare up at the bleak sky, and think, 'now what?'
The street is a dead end.
Streets have ends. The world does not. The earth is a vast landscape that is decorated - no, mutilated, by humanity's insistence on luxury and comfort and absolute rejection of nature. Two options begin to present themselves:
1. Turn back.
2. Create your own path.
You stare at the thick shrub. You imagine a spider's nest and tiny little baby spiders running at you in a confused frenzy. You hesitate.
Then, you approach the bush and push through the twine and overgrown branches. They jab and tear at your loose clothes, and you find a new tear down your sweats. You couldn't complain. This was nature. This was its role: to be life's biggest whore and fuck you over, and she can justify herself by her wise age and her overgrown roots. She's seen more than you, and knows that a push is better than a pull.
You repeat the words in your head: a push is better than a pull. You hold your palms out in front of you and guide yourself through the bush, through the sharp edges and thorny branches that do their best in harming you. Then, your breath hitches and you feel your ankle roll. You trip and stumble onto the ground. Nature is a lot sharper than one would expect, and you find red grazes on your palms. An ant crawls over your hand and you pull away, shuddering at the light tickle on your skin.
A push is better than a pull.
You pick yourself up. You wipe your hands on your knees, and it stings. Dirt lodges itself into the grazes but you have a feeling that in this case, nature did this on purpose. Mother knows best, the whore always does.
A revived sense of motivation and determination. Now you're striding through the undergrowth and when you look up you see nothing but peeling bark and a sea of browns. The grey sky has disappeared in this world.
You are not a pull. A pull is the force of being held back, of either sitting in stasis or forcibly being thrown off your path. You need to go forward, and you need a push. Sometimes it's you that needs to make that push.
That's when you find yourself in the clear. You are not surrounded by the thick shrub that tore at your skin and tossed you to the ground without a care in the world. You are in a street dissimilar to the one of cracked pavement and skeletal trees.
For the last time, you glance up at the sky. A raindrop falls on your cheek.
Then, for the first time in a long time, you think:
I am here.