Reaction to Ludlow’s disappearance was muted. Whenever anyone noticed him at all, they resented the space he occupied in slow-moving queues or elevators and trains. Ludlow was an extra minute, a passenger’s moist breath too close to one’s own neck, reduced shoulder room, the scarcity of oxygen. Better to be a window than a wall he said to shuttered faces. Five times he’d spent his capital on affection unredeemed, and he dined alone if he remembered to eat. His banked expectations ended up scattered like coins on cobblestones. Twenty thousand nights he slept without dreams beyond the fences of his waking life. He traced words on fogged glass I am not burdened by answers if no one asks me questions. At first Ludlow was oblivious to his pending invisibility; he’d stopped looking. The vanishing-process accelerated until his skin became as translucent as clay in water. Never in my life. Ludlow’s voice began to shed articulation and diction, it sputtered verb and noun fragments, and finished as an evening breeze in pursuit of birch leaves or sea grass. He’d waited too long and now his memories would remain hoarded. Ludlow was less tangible than rippled air currents above a bonfire, and the light passed through him. Strangers rubbed their hands, drawn to the glow.
Michael Grant Smith wears sleeveless T-shirts, weather permitting. His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in elimae, The Airgonaut, The Cabinet of Heed, Ellipsis Zine, Spelk, Bending Genres, Unbroken Journal, MoonPark Review, Okay Donkey, and elsewhere. Michael resides in Ohio. He has traveled to Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Cincinnati. To learn too much about Michael, please visit www.michaelgrantsmith.com and @MGSatMGScom.