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And they’re always gone by dawn, when the passages are swamped once more by the high-tempo commuters; those floor-stompers who don’t notice the tiny improvements made in the night. And I pick out too the sole light in the glass-box high-rises, the luminescence betraying an after-hours aficionado, head in the books, or locked in to the desktop interface. A lightsquare, amplified by the other blackened large windows. And I notice on thin access lanes transporters unloading their hugevans, stacking bread and pastries on the pavement. They might have been driving through the night to get here on time. These hostages to what the masses want and when they want it, giving up their normal lives – pandering to the majority.

How I had begun to spot them more now, when they previously nestled into the shadows tucked away from the usual flow of lives passing through, making a racket that seemed somehow clandestine, muffled because to the majority in motion these people were invisible. All this focus made me see them though, and returned their ghoulish torsos from the blackest cul-de-sacs and placed them on pedestals. These shift workers became enlivened, their faces beaming from the spotlights, clear of the obscurity that feinted to envelope them as they got packaged mutely into the confines of the perma-night. How I lived with them now! Dipping into ambiguous territories, our skinny lines between bluegreen hedgerows. The snake becoming shorter with each fatigued step into the snuggledown, snoring borough. Serene dotted traffic lights. Wayfarer beacons. Beginning to touch the dim outskirts of the dawn. Prowling with a flourish.

My mind feels good now, it feels whole in the watered-down, infant colours of the morning. It doesn’t need any more than a trickle of dewiness and that palpable freshness waft. The clearness of this air penetrates my mood and enables me to think in an unmuddied pattern, freed from the day shackles and their beastly commuter bombasts. I get on a groove while the sleepers are hidden. Atmospheric clearness. And towards the far-off port the fizzing glare of midnight is clouded into obsolescence. Were some of those moon-lanterned faces from earlier authentic? Or did I mind-shop them in afterwards, or, were they sitting on the precipice of the living and half-dead worlds, signalling the final flash of fading sparks? A split-second energy flame, gone before you miss it. Maybe now they had returned to their borderlands, the spaces where mortals could not squeeze in to, the areas they couldn’t even see. The cusps, despairful and out of shot. Silhouettes fragmenting. Flickersmiles and blink-gone grimaces of the decaying other-landers. Those just-gone midnight times were disintegrating and floating into some fuzzy memory abyss, with half-there images and sentimental realnesses.

I felt the presence of those inbetween boroughs: peripheral zones that had an aura but no actual foundations. And there were traits of those clingers-on in those who had survived the changeover, kind-of-pale versions of them. Mainly I could gather this from little movements; nothing too overt, such as fleeting head-stares or eyeblinks – signals of immortals that were personified by the normal wanderers. Minute traces as the gathering dawn specks dampened whole darknesses, loosened the night’s intensity. Luminous sinister yet endearing faces shedding a crumb of clarity on all their complex features, as though proving the burden inherent in some other, unshakeable mood they had brought from a hidden precinct. I was immersed in it at this point. Counting down the intersections to go before the route could be ticked off and the endorphins would swim free.

I look around and the atmosphere feels bulging with expectancy. These survivors are prepared for the final section – heading as we are towards a brighter road-stretch. Metallicness. Catalyst gyrations. Simmering palesun outline returning. Naturally, me plotting a slow arc towards its smallbeams. I taste the success of the embryonic morning, a day to be nurtured before the after-breakfast turmoil. Late-day tumult. And in a halo of early brightness the sense of soul-edifying purpose nestles above the almost-done passage. Staccato flashbacks to the formative night.

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© Copyright 2017 John Maher