Every evening at about 9 o'clock, the sun dips just below the city skyline and the entire sky turns into a canvas of warm golds, reds, and purples. The trees glisten in the distance like a mirage, so out of reach. If you squint hard enough, they shimmer out of existence. It seems these days, anything could shimmer out of existence if you stare them long enough. Like looking out your cracked window at the cityscape, the glass disappears, and its just you and the outside world. It feels like the simulation glitches when the people pass by, talking and walking with each other. Sitting in isolation, watching like the overseer, it feels wrong. For a world filled with so much loneliness, how can people really exist? For repetitive days, when the sun rising and falling means nothing but the color of the sky, how can time exist?
But that sunset has to mean something else to you. Without it, you wouldn't make it through quarantine. The days would fade into gray nothingness and your life would be nothing but a simulation of survival. Sleep, food, watch the window, sleep again. But when the sun sets, life actually feels real for once. Like you are in control for once. Checking your hands in front of your face, making sure they're still there and in your control. Checking that this isn't all a simulation from the first-person point of view. Then the golden sunlight bounces off your skin and you feel real again. The meaning of life fills your brain and heart again. You become acutely aware of the blood pumping through your veins and the steady beat of your heart. The sunset was the reason to wake up and not just live in an endless sleep.
Because there she was. Her golden hair brightened up the golden sky, bouncing light off the gray buildings in her wake. The kite was brightly colored, decorated with a cacophony of patches and designs. The thing was a headache to look at. But the way it flew bravely in the evening wind, soaring over the city skyline like a lone pilot. It seemed to glide through the air like a bird, a fearless eagle or hawk. The way she guided it through the sky, leaping like a cheetah and the poise of a ballerina. The sight of her brightened up your day, just the carefree nature and oddity standing out. She was a bright spirit, sent from above to give you hope. Every day at sunset, that girl sent the banner flying, the flag beating in the wind, the eagle soaring. She stood on top of a skyscraper, a building in view of your apartment, and ran the flat roof. The roof was her field, her mountain, her stage. You didn't know if she knew you were watching. You didn't think she even cared. But every day, you took a cup of tea or coffee or dinner and sat at the window and gazed at the glorious scene. Maybe others did, but that didn't matter. She was special just to you. There was a connection, for certain, between you and the eagle-bearer across the street. It was an aerial show for the lonesome. And when the sun fell into the earth and the sky went black and purple and covered in white stars, she disappeared into the darkness. Her shadow melted into the darkness of the night and that was your cue to sleep. Maybe she didn't stop at night, maybe she continued to fly her kite in the night sky. You would never know, the way she disappeared along with the sun.
You had never seen her entirely, the way the barriers on the roof cut her long flowing dress from your view. You hadn't even seen her face. Only her long blonde locks and kite in the skyline and the top of her flowing marble dress. You were more than just intrigued by her. Living in a city, you had already seen very interesting things. But she was different, she was a beacon. You yearned for her, yearned to be her. Yearned for the feeling she brought every evening to last until the next morning. Yearned for that bright golden sunlight and ached for it when the night fell. And when the morning sun rose again, you yearned to be the kite, the eagle, the banner. Just in the wind, careless and free.
So instead of spending the day wasting away like you always did, you planned to do something different. Doubt and anxiety sat in your stomach like cement. It felt like nighttime was surrounding you, clouding your head and making your vision dark. Your vision was a tunnel with one thing at the end of it, showing you the way... the rusted old trumpet that you hadn't played since high school. The case was rusted shut. Shoes, coats, and other random things were thrown on top of it in your closet. But you never got rid of it, the trumpet too sentimental and memory-filled to just ditch. You had bought it from a thrift shop, a lucky find, and joined the marching band. Eventually, you became the drum major. Oh, the times you had spent in high school and college, conducting, cheering, spending times with friends. The sound of your alma mater and fight song rang in your head like an echo. Your marching band hat had to be around here somewhere... it sat in the corner of the closet, the plume a little smushed but intact. Tears fill your eyes as the sound of loud brass, high-pitched woodwinds, light mallet percussion, and the steady beats of drums you could feel in your chest and soul through the turf. The football whistle, the marching band whistle, the feeling of elation. When your arms used to be pumped from always conducting, the excitement and energy filling you as you watched an army march in front of you. And when it ended, the thunderous applause as you face the crowd, painted with school colors, screaming and cheering. Once you sit back down, watching the football happen, the feeling of unity and community filling you like a warm meal. Spending every Friday night with over two hundred family members, all lost and stressed in different aspects of life but still together in the means of the high school band. You hadn't felt that in so long. The smile on your face was foreign, so pained and nostalgic. You missed that feeling. You felt broken and tired without it. So you brushed the cobwebs off that trumpet, picked it up in your hands, and headed to the window.
The sun was just beginning to set. The eagle-bearer was starting her routine, throwing the kite through the air like a dragon. Her bright light was like fireworks in the gray skyline and the warm sunshine. The sight was even more astounding with the window cracked open. She didn't notice you leaning out your window, gazing out into the open city. The city was surprisingly quiet, like a ghost town. The few people who out wore the masks, walked quickly with shifty eyes as if grenades could explode if they misstepped. Every cough or sneeze was a landmine waiting to happen. And every pedestrian was a potential enemy soldier. From this view, the city felt broken. You could feel the sadness, the pain from the heart of the city. Yet she continued to dance with no music. Well, you could change that.
You pressed the trumpet to your lips. It was cold, foreign to your mouth. Your chapped lips and weak diaphragm made it difficult to play, that was for sure. But somehow, watching the girl fly her kite, you mustered the courage to blast something.
It was a classic song, badly played by a lone trumpet. The sound was brash, it sounded meek and lonesome in the blowing wind and city sounds. It was flat, with terrible tone quality, and the notes weren't always right. The sound was pained but still hopeful. It filled the city air, over the crowds of low honking and talking. And for the first time, the sun spun on its axis. The moons in orbit followed.
The girl with the kite turned around. Her kite floated in midair, going with the wind. She watched you with curious amusement, her head cocked to the side like a confused dog. Her lips were slightly parted, her strawberry lipstick glistening in the dying sunlight. Her entire body looked golden, standing out against the bright white of her dress. The mismatched kite blew in the wind calmly, matching her expression. You falter for a moment, overwhelmed with excitement and nervousness from finally seeing her and meeting her eyes. They sparkled like sugar honey iced tea, though you couldn't tell very well from this distance. You liked to imagine her eyes were golden with the gorgeous warm scene surrounding her. She looked like a goddess, she couldn't possibly be from the same Earth as boring old you and every other human in lockdown. Like a deity sent during the pandemic, an angel of death. She watched you as you continued to play the song. Hopefully, she recognized it and didn't just ignore you. You were crying out for her attention, just for her to gaze at you and your rusted bronze trumpet.
Then, slowly, she sang along. You could barely hear, over the sound of the wind, the city below, and the distance. 6 feet times 10, maybe, but you felt closer than every to this mythical girl with the kite. Her voice was low, ragged like it pained her to sing. But it was a beautiful deep voice, regal like a queen and thick like warm honey or caramel. It was light and pleasant to listen to but carried the same power as a bullhorn. Hearing her sing, acknowledging your presence, and proving to you she was real, not just a mirage, gave you the confidence to play louder. Soon you're blasting the familiar song through the city, echoing along with the purple and gray apartments. It feels like your song is reaching the heavens itself.
Then the voices join. It starts slowly at first, as windows crack open and people sing along. You can't see some of them, but some you can. You watch people from different apartments, different backgrounds, different faces and lives entirely band together to sing with your trumpet. The voices are raised to heaven itself, singing, pleading with the skies for mercy, and for humanity. The voices are all different, none quite great, but together, its a sound to be reckoned with. The entire street is filled with loud voices singing our song. Your heart fills with ecstasy and belonging, for the first time in so long. A family out of the streets of the city, their faces hopeful but their eyes in pain. We sing until our voices echo the building and streets, the sound a cacophony of eagles cawing. A choir of angels crying for our lives. The sound reaches the clouds and skies above. We are unstoppable together.
But the sun slowly goes down. The voices die out. Windows slowly close. Your lips are stinging and your eyes are filled with tears. The kite looks worn and torn and the girl looks tired. The sun barely peeks through the skyline anymore. Suddenly it's just you and her again, watching each other from so far. Two souls, thrown into the hurricane of this year, and yearning for one another. She sends you a crooked smile as the shadows climb up her dress and hair. Soon, its darkness again. You stand there for a moment, the ecstasy leaving your body and the darkness creeping back in. You close the window and rest your forehead against it, bittersweet tears running down your cheeks. You yearn for that feeling again, it's addictive, you'd give anything to feel belonging again. That girl, who knows if she could come back again. Who knew if you two were destined to die before you could see each other within 6 feet and faces fully shown, lips allowed to touch and hands allowed to be held.
You drift to sleep, the darkness eating at your thoughts and heart again. It may have felt good at the moment, but now you just feel empty. Waking up was difficult, just to live the same simulated day again. But something awaited your mailbox that brought back that flying eagle, the singing of the city, the beaming of the sunshine. A note, you know had to be hers, sat there, in golden paper and sloppy handwriting.
"Loved your trumpet. Want to have dinner soon? Zoom me at sunset :)"