an abandoned street - quotes and descriptions to inspire creative writing
The road lay before them like a tarmac ribbon; albeit, one that had been worn over time. A white line ran down the center, relatively unbroken compared to the scarred and potholed concrete.
The carbon-counter gun beeped. '2017 A.D/4503 K.Z'. An archeologist wiped the dust from the display with his seventh tentacle. Looking out with octagon eyes at the thick jungle of kudzu and Himalayan blackberry surrounding and obstructing the ancient highway, he chittered in a happy sort of way. Finally; the path to the City of Angels. And perhaps, some clues to what had wiped out the previous civilization.
I hate this street. I hate everything on this street. Why? Just because. I hate all of the road signs, every restaurant that used to be here, every child playing games in happiness with their siblings or friends. I hated the memories that were created on Christopher Street.
Because of her. I miss her smile, I miss the way she could light everything even when the sunlight shined its brightest. The way she tries, the way she does. The way she'd open my eyes to new possibilities that now seemed vaguely impossible without her.
I hate this street, because I used to love it as much.
The wind is howling like some horror movie opener and the room is dark as night. When I manage to focus on my clock it's almost noon. My Ziplocone hangover recedes almost instantly due to a rapid infusion of adrenaline. Still dressed in scrubs and sporting my new shiner I'm out in the street in just seconds. My hair is whipping so violently about my face I can barely see at all. There are no cars and no people. Newspapers tumble around the asphalt as if caught in invisible laundry machines. The trees creak, screaming as their limbs strain agains the onslaught. I take a few involuntary steps backwards and scramble for my front door as it bangs against the wall in chaotic booms. Then the rain starts, not slowly, but so thick I can't see a yard. It pummels my skin raw in the seconds it takes me to get inside. The house is now creaking like the trees and suddenly I glance up a the roof and pray it stays.
The street is a skeleton, stripped of its flesh long ago by the locust that swarmed. All that remains is the concrete structures themselves, no glass, no wood, nothing the scavengers could use. Even the street-lamps have been cut down and dragged away along with the trees. Metal is at a premium, plus there's the gadgetry at the top that can be reused in incendiary devices. If this was some movie set ten years ago I'd feel frisson of excitement right now, but knowing there are personal effects in behind those walls, chosen by families that are either decimated or extinguished I can feel my insides cool and spasm. Before I can take a step there is vomit in my mouth. Though the air blows as fresh as any summer meadow, this is a graveyard with unburied dead. I can smell them in my mind all over again, just like the war is still raging and my hands are still red.
In pre-dawn darkness the street hardly looks different that it did a decade ago. The lack of illumination from the street-lamps gives it away first. At this time their glow should be yellowing the rain-drops and casting a smudgy beam onto the black street. The cars are still there, waiting for owners that will never come. Perhaps they are still in their beds, but they won't rise with the sun. The gardens have burst into life, not in the manicured way they were before, but it's every plant for themselves- reach the sunlight or die. I guess that's how it is for us too. They have no more gardener, we are without the social structures we complained about so incessantly. Without the traffic I can hear the birds; without the belching fumes I can enjoy the fragrance of the flowers. But I'd give anything to go back, back to life as it was. With all the stress, with all the many times I wished to be alone, it was home. Funny. I always used think home was a place, now I think of it as a time.
The street has seen so many transitions. The redbrick terraced homes were build for the railway workers without even internal washrooms. Inside their walls had dwelt families far too large for two bedrooms up top. I'll bet the children mostly slept in the long narrow living rooms that blended right into the kitchen. But this is London and from the later half of the 1900's these solid houses close to transit and the city centre could never remain for the poor. They became “executive” with all the amenities the professionals demanded. No longer were the gardens for growing vegetables but instead became home to new horticultural creations in vivid magentas, yellows and burnt orange. In the soft late autumn light they are simply deserted. Inside the damp creeps ever upward, peeling away designer wallpapers. The wedding pictures contain the ubiquitous white dress and tuxedo, just different faces, no children of course.
Perhaps years back this avenue was bathed in pools of yellow light from the weather battered street lamps. Their paint no doubt was smooth, the sable paint quite interrupted by the chunks of grey undercoat that grow ever more closely clustered like some unwanted bacterial growth. The concrete of the lane is cracked and sun-bleached, the houses on each side were once gaily painted, but now peel, crackle and flake. Every home was a unique, bespoke structure. It's unusual for a city not to have every home in the row identical in architecture and colour scheme. But here some have pitched roofs, some flat, some are two story and others three. What they all have in common is the flora that is reasserting itself. I imagine that when the people first went it was the grasses that grew most, long and wavy like a field of wheat. Now it is the trees and the ivy that rule this dishevelled landscape. In another hundred years this will simply be woodland with the rubble of a road passing through.
The street was quiet and derelict. I walked towards the mess of a house I was supposed to be selling and I knocked at the door. The sound tintinnabulated for what seemed forever. I finally got fatigued by the long wait fro the elderly man to open the door. So I twisted the handle and welcomed myself inside.
The street is a river of abandoned cars, rusting out in the brilliant August sunshine. The are empty, abandoned when fleeing on foot became faster. They are not the vehicles of our parents or grandparents, these are the folks who left it too late. Mom says thew early announcements were vague and soothing, reassuring. She says that eleven million people could never have gotten out in time anyway. She jokes that all us new kids are the children of people with anxiety disorders, the ones who cannot bare risk. Maybe that's why we don't have the crime the old city used to have, well, that and there are less of us. Dad won't come here at all, he gets all teary. He was one of those conspiracy theorists that saw it all coming, but like Cassandra his voice fell like rain onto parched soil, vanishing without a trace he had spoken.
The street is covered in the same dusty powder that is in my hair and clothes. Homes line the street like broken teeth, falling down randomly as if they were bombed. Yet the most dramatic thing to happen here in the past twenty years is the ever hotter summers and wind that howls across the landscape unhindered by trees. Graffiti still shows red and blue through the dust, tags from people who fled north with the dying rains, all childish rebellions long forgotten. How all this trauma aged us...aged me. I could be ninety in these teenage bones. I wouldn't come here if it weren't for the resources we now need, stuff that could be lying abandoned behind these sun-baked walls. I would shout to shock this place with the exuberance of life, but then I would have to breath this foul air in more deeply and I don't know how much this old hospital mask will filter.
I wonder if the old residents abandoned their homes willingly and at least kept their lives. I'll never know, the flushing out of the undesirables that lived here was before my time. Our history books talk of how they planted bombs and decapitated their enemies, that it was us or them. But my mother will tell a different story when we are away from prying ears. She says they were just ordinary people, her friends, neighbours. They lived ordinary lives and loved God, though they called Him by a different name. But once the schools were attacked nobody would listen to reason. They watched a row of tiny coffins move down the street carried by their mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters. Then they stood back and let the army take them into “safety zones,” concentration camps by any other name. There is talk of the property now being forfeit to the government and sold at auction. On our country walks all mom will ask is “Where are they now?”