P—W  V° 03:02


by Anthony Palliparambil Jr.

In the early hours of the day, my street comes alive. The sun peeks out over the horizon, casting a warm glow upon lawns dotted with dew, and the air vibrates with the chirping of birds that reside in the bushes. It serves as a gentle alarm clock, lulling me out of my sleep. Quiet morning walks are what I look forward to most these days, so I quickly dress and step out of the door.

As I wander down the block, I breathe in deeply and notice a gentle mist clinging to the air. The haze gives everything a dreamlike filter I know will soon pass. This neighborhood is both familiar and not. Magical and not. Each house that I pass, for all its outward ordinariness, has its own narrative.

Some are little stories. Like the abandoned bicycle and the girl who ran home crying after she skinned her knee. Others tell of more. Like the colonial down the street that always looks disheveled. The car in the driveway is never parked quite straight, the yard littered with toys and empty bottles. The thin blonde woman emerges from the door, a cigarette hanging from her lips and a coffee tumbler in tow. She looks my way, and I offer her a half-hearted smile. She ignores it as she gets into the car and drives away. It’s only then that I notice the sounds of crying children inside the house and the angry shouts from the grandmother who can’t control them.

The noise fades into the distance as I continue down the street and turn left. The fading fog feels ghost-like, concealing and revealing the usual characters. I see the old man who lives in the green cape cod watering petunias in the flower boxes that line his yard. Half of the plants look as though they’re a day away from drying up entirely, even though he appears every morning, hose in hand. He lives with his sister, or so I’m told, who might be even older than he is. Most days, he helps her to the porch so she can watch, but today she’s nowhere to be seen. I wave hello as I pass, carefully stepping around the droplets of water that are still spraying. “Morning,” he says with a smile, slow and methodical, like the way he goes about his life.

As I turn another corner, I see my own house in the distance. The sun rises higher, revealing a clear canopy of sky without end. The brown tiles on my roof look aged and weather-worn. The curtains are drawn in every window except for my own. A newspaper lays curled up on the driveway, above a deep crack in the asphalt.

What stories might it tell to the strangers walking by. What curiosities and assumed sorrows. I leave the street behind, turning the key to begin the day.

2023 © A.Palliparambil