Amelia was city-made and city-grown. From where she lived the city was just a writhing mass, gridded like a chessboard, and full of monotony. Her circuits were overstimulated. She was surrounded by wires, cords, and progress. She was living modernity and on clear days she could almost feel like a part of the masses, she could almost feel like she interacted with them. Almost.
Frank wandered the city, cataloguing every face and type like a child seeing the world for the first time, walking a new language, but the people seemed to pass by him – no, look through him, like he didn’t matter. In truth, he began to think, do they really matter to me? But as he took another sharp corner, his mind clipped the edge of the building and then lodging was on his mind. He was in the right district given the signs hanging above doors and out from awnings, but he soon found he barely had enough money to stay the week out. How strange that what had had so much value previously in his life was so empty and useless in exchange here in Harborside.
Amelia was coming down from the clouds about to face the world for the first time, naive and one of the richest and rarest people in the city, but equally mysterious. Her mind had yet to grasp value; everything to her was bought and categorized away into an advanced filing system of uses.
The sky filtered into her windows, if she reached out, the clouds almost reached back, but who cared about clouds when she was going down to the ground.
From Amelia’s window far above Harborside its postcard appearance was breathtaking, heart-stopping from the aerial view, perfectly aligned like an OCD wet dream – but beyond the picture perfect Harborside was its dark truth, its fingers, its slums. Where the roads wended their way around makeshift homes, bodies being consumed by the cobbles of the city. The roads staggered like a drunk artist’s footsteps. The slums belied truth, the reality of the city for the majority. The true artists, the ultimate image of life, a slow burn out. The truth was, the city moved too quickly for anyone – even the top Moguls and Traders – to live contentedly, too fast for them to not eventually blend into the tapestry of time, of the city.
But while Amelia’s elevator sunk level by level, Frank’s feet were dragging him from job to job, ebbing closer and closer to that blight, the narrow streets, the moss, the dark sky, the forgotten, the true heart of the city. The cost of living had drained Frank, his week was up. Once a private person, he now broadcasted all he could, he needed all the help he could get. He dreamed of the past. When he was well off in the country, people tipped their hat to him, they knew his name, they cared. He dreamed of a city long past, just emerging from the harbor, crawling onto land like a new life form, full of opportunity and riches. His feet were carrying him further from the monoliths of global life. From the masses that thrived on standing out from the crowd, from the masses who had found what they sought, or at least the veneer of what they dreamed.