Cranes and bulldozers silently dismantled one of the crumbling buildings along the town’s outer street. Where there was once a floor, a window, a bed, maybe even a family there was now a mechanical claw yanking it all apart, tearing down the foundation. I knew it ought to be loud, of course, but I could only focus on the smell of asbestos and decades of soot and dust infiltrating my nostrils, my throat, and coating my tongue in a thick grey smut.
My thoughts ran in every direction, somehow more and less calculated than the moves of the mechanical beast before me. I thought about where the owners were now, when they’d given up, when they’d left their windows and doors locked never to return. I wondered when the squatters came, as they inevitably do, and broke through a window, a door, a wall. I pondered how long the new residents painted the walls in mindless and out of mind scribbles; how often they pushed foreign antibodies into their veins through dirty, soot-covered needles; how long it took the town to run them out and where they went and why. I questioned how long the building that once was a home sat there, empty, decaying for lack of love until the town had had enough and pooled their taxes to be rid of it.
The spiraling questions without answers pooled inward, draining themselves into my subconscious, pushing remnants of new questions to float on the surface. I wondered how long I had before I tore myself down, before my own foundations crumbled enough for an excuse to start over. I worried that it may not happen, if it’d ever happen, if it could never happen to a person.
The bulldozers were louder and it was darker than I remembered.
– M. Ray Hall