This bus station is made of negative space— a vast, flat plain of slate grey and the blot of mottled colour that is you.

City nights have no stars. Instead, the thick, navy sky is draped over the roads, a blanket fort held up by the streetlights. You look up. The uncountable homes filled with uncountable lamps and chandeliers and televisions give the land a flashlight glow— a translucent, periwinkle film of light that’s spread overhead.

This bus station is empty in the middle of a city so full. On the sign above you, the thin, burning orange lights flicker to tell you that you have an hour to wait, while the chill of the wind bites at your cheeks until they’re rosy.

So instead, you walk. Your shadow dances around you as you move between light sources. The yellows of the streetlights have spilled across the blackness of the pavement.

Headlights move past, bathing the sidewalk in holy white light. For a moment, leaves reflect that light back, and the lush green is unreal, stark against the cascading shadows, flashing so bright that it is no longer green, ascending out of colour and then retreating back into the darkness. The details fade. The earthy black smudges the edges, and we are left with a silhouette — with the idea of a tree hidden in the unknown.

The traffic lights stand tall, dutiful even as the road sits empty. An authoritative red winks, a dare to challenge the impatient. Its sister, green, is a different shade of bright— not one struggling against the inky blue that presses in from all sides, but one that is confident, kind, guiding you home. It’s a green too deep to match the grass, too bright to mimic the trees.

Where you’re going, the night is fragile. The darkness tip-toes through the streets— too much noise and it will shatter like glass, and the awakened porch lights will catch on the shards of it, creating prisms that rush out into the street in bright pyjamas and thick robes.

Where you are, the night is thick. The shadows swear, and neon flashes and beckons and begs. You decline politely, even as the red light brushes your cheek.

You want to go home and finally shake free the glittering tones of the night— wipe the silver flakes from your face and strip off the clothing that is nearly painted onto your body.

You hope this is the right way. Your phone died hours ago, flickering off until the shine of the screen showed your reflection. The tips of your nose, your fingers, your toes are pink from the cold.

To navigate, you’d look up— except city nights have no stars. For now, you belong to the darkness.

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