When the fire alarm started blaring for the third time that morning, I packed up and evacuated like everyone else. Except, then I didn't go back in.
I simply left.
There are some things that you learn as you grow older. Some people accept them, easily chucking their other beliefs out the window for "new" and "innovative" solutions. But others live in a state of hypocrisy, accepting their change and their newness but clinging to the beliefs that just simply aren't. It seems a sort of desperation, almost, to have to keep holding onto the wisps of childhood; as if to convince themselves, No, I can't grow up.
I wandered around the streets of Chicago, tugging on my coat, my scarf, my hair. People watching was too easy in this bustling place, and I noted with stark amusement how people refused to step on the cracks between the sidewalk.
As if anything had ever happened from stepping on a break between two pieces of concrete.
Usually, the year you turn ten is the year all innocence dies. It's the year when fairy tales and children's books take the back seat; when the monster under the bed turns into your best friend; when boys and girls somehow all overcome the cooties at once and start thinking that perhaps the other is not quite as disgustable after all.
But it seems a common occurrence that luck is always present – that fickle, arrogant thing that can be won or lost due to silly little trinkets like four-leaf clovers or black cats. These little superstitions, as they are sometimes referred, always tend to lurk in the back of people's brains, reminding them No, you can't pick up that penny. It's face down.
I found myself down near the Bean – or, as the flippant sculptor was apt to call it, Cloud Gate. I had lived near Chicago all my life and had never called it Cloud Gate, or anything else. Just as the Sears Tower would never be anything else. (Willis Tower, pah, who were they kidding?)
I watched my reflection interact with everyone else's as I paced around the giant polished kidney bean. I noted the smudges of tiny hand prints all around the base and up the side, wondering if anybody ever bothered to clean it. I was glad that I wasn't the one who had to be in charge of that, that would be--
I settled with unfortunate.
There always has to be something to blame, in the mind of humanity. It's never their fault in such-and-such car accident, there was ice on the road. It's never their fault they slept in, the alarm didn't go off. It's never their fault they weren't prepared, there just wasn't enough time.
And it's always somebody else's fault that nobody did anything about it.
So people get blamed. So does circumstance. And miscommunication. And confusion. And luck.
When I got back to my apartment, the fire alarms were still shrieking. I rolled my eyes before digging into my pocket for my headphones. They were a nice sound reduction pair, and I jammed them inside my ears before walking back into the building. If it hadn't burned down by this point, it sure as hell wasn't going to now. Right?
I grinned to myself. I'll take my chances.
Written for the Review Game's Writing Challenge Contest January, 2011. Second place finish, rock on.
special thanks to Kimon for added inspiration.