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Invisible Cities – Cities and Motion 3

Cities & Motion

3

I have spent many months tracking Briscilla, Great Khan, yet have never once succeeded in catching a glimpse of the elusive city. You may already know of the method by which you follow Briscilla: it leaves in its wake the trash and refuse of its residents.

Here – you see the outlines of the coffee shop: a square of cigarettes butts, stale espresso shots, crumpled napkins, and an old receipt itemizing the rest. The square of foil wrappers, dried vomit, and crushed dreams – that was the bar. Over here you see the signs of a school – broken pens, hopes for social acceptance, and budding aspirations lay strewn on the ground. And there – those piles of shame, desire, and unanswered prayers – that must have been a church.

By following the filth of Briscilla, we come across waste which is not quite so old. On the ground: a freshly broken heart, a subpoena postmarked one week ago, a bag left to reserve a seat, a newborn infant newly cold to the touch. From this we can deduce that Briscilla is not far away, perhaps in the next valley. However as we approach we see the valley only holds more trash. But look, this tea is still warm – come, we must be close.

You might ask, Great Khan, why we continue to hunt Briscilla, when all we can find of the city is dregs and slop. And I will tell you it is the fool who judges a thing by the trail it leaves. A wise man will reason and hope that its trail of waste proves that the city of Briscilla is everything its filth is not.

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One of a series of short stories in the style of Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities. Full series here.