On A Cold And Terror-filled Night, Bwog Reviews 616, The Middle Of Campus And NYC

Can you see the stars?

Published on Bwog on November 29, 2017.

A few weeks ago, we developed @notbwog, a Twitter bot that imitates Bwog headlines through a randomized generator based on our actual Twitter. This past weekend, the bot tweeted a headline so hauntingly excellent, we knew we had to develop it into an actual post. Managing Editor Betsy Ladyzhets ran this headline through several more random generators, ten rounds of Google Translate, and a couple of dril-inspired conversation programs. The results… may surprise you.

It is a cold and terror-filled night. You sit in your dorm room, scrolling through Facebook and nursing a beer stolen from your roommate’s mini-fridge. It tastes of fizz and piss and something heavier, something that sits beneath your tongue like the air just before a storm.

The wifi goes out. You stare at your laptop for a moment – but Facebook is stuck, frozen on the same pane. Your little cousin frowning at an ice cream cone she has dropped into her lap. Her bright green dress stained with chocolate. You refresh, and the page goes white, then tells you something has gone wrong. You reach forward, hoping blindly to knock some sense into the machine, and send your beer flying. Yellow-brown spills over the sides of your desk and onto your roommate’s soft, white rug, as though the asshole who lives three doors down broke in and pissed, just for fun. That’s the story you’ll tell your roommate tomorrow.

Stand up. Chug the last dregs of the beer – it burns going down, less heavy now and more slowly simmering embers – and crush it against the desk. Toss it into the trash can. And you stand in the center of your room for a moment, unsure of what to do, unsure if your palm has always had those three long lines or if you just never looked at it closely before. The computer keeps blinking at you slowly, something has gone wrong. You shut the screen with a soft thud, and go to grab your coat, wallet, phone.

It’s not quite quiet, in the hallway. The asshole who lives three doors down is listening to Hamilton again. Or at least, you think it’s Hamilton – the singer is droning something about taxes. You spend half a minute staring at the elevator panel, blinking a slow 1, 1, 1, then remember it’s been broken for weeks. Take the stairs instead.

Outside, your feet take you across Broadway. There are only ten seconds left on the walk sign, but you do not sprint. You walk, slow and steady, feet beating in time with your heart. It’s cold, cold enough that your fingers push into your jacket pockets of their own volition, cold enough that you almost believe you can see your breath. You should have worn a hat.

You should’ve worn a hat, but you don’t go back for it. Instead, you start down the mountain of 116th Street. Your feet are too heavy, or perhaps too light, in tan boots with ancient, fuzzy socks. One heel is thicker than the other, and it sends you skidding down across another crosswalk, towards Riverside Park.

The streetlights in the park are all on, except for one just above a bench, several feet from you. There’s a man sleeping on the bench, or perhaps a woman, tucked into a sleeping bag as though spooning a particularly kind-hearted storm cloud. You watch the figure for a moment. You could sleep on a park bench, if you had to, you tell yourself.

This entrance to the park is bracketed by a pale monument – once pure white, now dingy, bearing the battle scars from the piss of a thousand too-eager dogs. It’s a simple upright rectangle, three stairs at the bottom, forming up into a bowl at chest height. A water fountain. You stand on the second step, reach up, press the silver button. Something has gone wrong.

And suddenly you’re running – back up the mountain, back past the apartments-turned-dorms glittering with something secret, as though they could tell you where the Barnard magnolia tree really went, but then they’d have to kill you. You fly across the crosswalk – someone honks at you halfheartedly – and past the line of trees awaiting spotlights and onto Low steps.

You realize, as you screech to a halt somewhere near one of the fountains, that you thought you might be able to see the stars from here. You tilt your head up, like a child dancing into a snowstorm, and try to taste them. But it must be too cloudy tonight. Or perhaps the stars are hiding from you, sinking just behind your back, where you will never quite be able to quite reach.

It is quiet, out here. A siren wails in the distance. A horn honks at some pedestrian sprinting across Broadway. A couple of friends start shouting over where they’re going to go for dinner. You are standing just off center in uptown Manhattan, a bustling metropolis of over a million, yet close your eyes a moment and you could mistake this for the North Pole.

You haven’t spoken to anyone in weeks. Or is it months? Time does not quite pass for you – rather, it expands, particles spreading to fill the available space like gas released into a new container. You’re alright with expanding. Eventually, your particles are destined to collide with someone else’s particles, and that person will be able to explain the meaning of the three long lines on your palm.

Bwog recommends going outside at least once per day and smiling at the sun, even if she does not smile back. Bwog recommends telling your roommate three mundane facts each day, even if they are only the locations at which you consumed breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Bwog recommends cleaning the beer when you spill it, even if it was stolen in the first place. Bwog recommends spreading to fill the available space.

The unconquerable passage of time via Betsy Ladyzhets


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