A skyscraper hasn't grown out of the curb in the very center of Tallinn, Estonia. You can check this by using Google maps: type in Postimaja Shopping Center and choose the street view. You'll see a busy intersection with buses, cars, pedestrians, and no birds (remember the birds) encapsulated forever in the amber of a camera. Maples, with leaves unnaturally green in the picture - in reality, quietly dying under a thin layer of dust and traffic fumes - have their roots in patches of land, small decorative gravel preventing water evaporation. Doors of two shopping malls rotate relentlessly to give access to public toilets - and shops, of course. A skyscraper couldn't have grown in the shadow of the far left maple from under the slightly warped asphalt. It would have been impossible because Katie and Daniel have never lived in Tallinn, Estonia. I assume they have never heard of the city. It was all the more incredible that the tip of the skyscraper decided to appear right near the curb.
If I were free, I'd dance. Who can stop a free man?
If I were free and could dance, I'd dance in Old Tallinn Square. Who can stop an overweight free man?
If I were free and could dance, I'd dance in Old Tallinn Square, wearing a ballet tutu. That's the problem with tutus: they require material, like ribbons, tulle, and threads. Who can stop an overweight free man who sewed the ballet tutu?
If I were free and could dance, I'd dance in a ballet tutu under the sunset symphony in Old Tallinn Square.
The prologue to the sunset is delicate notes – almost a promise - of yellow brilliantine when a merciless giant heated ball starts to burn the horizon. The dusk treacherously convinces us in its innocence, lavishly orchestrating soft red Dos, periwinkle Sols, and rose Res. Pale lilac spills out of the divine palette onto the clouds to be substituted in half an hour by a black-deep violet. A hungry creature with hundred eyes picks up crumbs of light from buildings and human faces. Nobody owns a sunset.
If I were free…
Like greedy seeds that ruin thick castle walls, a tiny tip perforated the asphalt on the line where a curb connected with a roadway. This happenstance occurred on a spring day when everything in our world was about to start blooming. During autumn, in the other world, skyscrapers, with freshly-washed windows and green gardens on the rooftops, started to emerge from the ground. Nobody paid attention to the tip protruding into our world, and it grew both day and night till it bore a spire, tall enough to scratch a car's undercarriage or damage a chassis.
Katie, a girl searching for the meaning of life, stopped to marvel at how the shadows played hide-and-seek on the glimmering tip. Unable to withstand the temptation, she stroked the black surface. Perhaps, Katie was thinking of her mother, who had come to Tallinn as a young, naive painter and had ended up as a bitter, disappointed travel agent. Perhaps, she was thinking of her father, who had disappeared ages ago and nobody knew where he was. This girl, dressed in a two-piece suit, was probably waiting for her boyfriend Daniel, who promised to take her to lunch. She and the tip had much in common: their silence said volumes.
Daniel was exploring the depths of disloyalty.
"Where is my second sock, goddammit?" Daniel exclaimed, kneeling to look under the bed.
"I don't know," Maali answered in slowly-articulated English, carefully adjusting her beige bra. The birthmark under her left breast recently started to bleed, and Maali worried more about possible cancer than Daniel's sock. She was putting on her home trousers when Daniel appeared from under the table with a white dusted sock in his hand.
"Jeez, when did you last wash the floor? I'd never allow Ka..." he stumbled. Maali looked at him in disbelief and anger.
"We sleep don't mean I answer stupid questions," she scoffed. "We are neighbors, no more. Now go away!"
Daniel put a sneaker on a bare foot, the sock accusingly hanging from his pocket. He only had to cross a short corridor to get to his rented apartment: after all, they were neighbors in a nine-storey building. Katie frequently stayed for the weekend at his place. She scrubbed, cleaned, and washed his apartment until everything was in order: shining bathroom, piles of plates and pans in the cupboard, ironed shirts in the wardrobe, one for each day. He never imagined his life to be so comfortable near a woman. However, Daniel wasn't in control of his entrepreneurial side, as he called it, and remorse after his little adventures was genuine.
He always returned to Katie.
The more Katie caressed the tip, the more it elongated. She couldn't stop herself, for she thought she saw the future reflecting in the darkness under the surface. Vague figurines, surrounded by names and numbers in other worlds' languages, where skyscrapers do grow as stoic dandelions from the ground skyward; and Katie was moving toward hope as the tip showed her what she wished to see. Daniel was in her future, and they were happy and had kids. The bitterness and anger inherited from Katie's mother were slowly dying out while Katie watched herself play with her kids on the seashore.
They were a boy and a girl.
I pushed Katie aside because the asphalt under her feet trembled and let loose, revealing a small yet rapidly expanding hole. I held her in my arms when she crumbled in hysterics, begging me to let her go.
The upside-down sky cried with lumps of earth, stone, cars, and repair equipment upon the fearless crowd that communicated in one language, lost during the building of the Tower of Babel.
My white-pink ballet tutu swayed under the strong gusts of the unusually cold wind. I was the only one who feared the destruction of Tallinn on the scale of Hollywood's disaster movie.
"What's down there?"
"Damn, it’s getting bigger with every minute."
"I couldn't resist. I know I shouldn't do it because I have Katie, but Maali..."
A bitter chuckle and a tap on the shoulder from Daniel’s friend.
"There go the ropes"
Splash! a car landed on two men in police uniforms. The third one flinched.
"Why don't they secure the perimeter? It's dangerous to be around this thing."
"Not a circus, you all are grown men."
"I didn't have time to put a sock on. My left foot is itching."
A hand of a friend, a friend who was secretly in love with Katie, landed on Daniel's shoulder. Daniel tried to shrug off the importunate hand and stumbled over his legs, getting an additional kick in the ribs. To avoid the next punch, Daniel rolled to the other side through a labyrinth of wires and cables and disappeared into the pit.
Daniel's cries got quieter and quieter with every meter he flew downward.
"He was not from our company, not our problem," a friend who was ready to propose to Katie said to nobody in particular.
Katie slipped from my hands and ran to the pit. With growing hopelessness, she jumped from side to side to avoid falling artificial palms and dead birds (remember, there were no birds at the beginning of our story). The tip was up, up, too high in the sky to touch it.
In the brief moment when Katie smashed a window of the skyscraper's upper floor, I saw a figure inside, rushing forward to embrace her. Perhaps, it was Daniel who miraculously survived the fall. Most probably, it was Katie's father because hope couldn't be lost forever.
For some reason - or because of the giant gray-black skyscrapers - Tallinn lay in ruins. The sun was setting down in the eerie silence of the evening. I was the only citizen who hadn’t entered skyscrapers. I was dancing in the ballet tutu in the rain in Old Tallinn Square, reminiscing about recent events. I never could be Katie, yet, deep down, I desperately craved to be her. In truth, skyscrapers don't grow from the underground, and nobody would sacrifice herself as Katie. To be completely honest, the story about Daniel and Katie had never happened. And these three facts alone make me sad.