The Invisible City
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to Laura Cordero @ Tablo Publishing
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Copyright© 2015 James Christie. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the prior written permission of the copyright holder.
I think every truth is a paradox. At least, that’s what it seems to me.
For example, Mr Xenides, my Economics teacher, was telling the class last week about the Economic Crisis and how it’s due to everyone being in debt, which makes sense – except then he said that the only solution is to get more in debt and that doesn’t make any sense. And Mr Rayner, my Physics teacher, was explaining how at the subatomic level, the closer you look at a particle the less you can know about it and he called it the Uncertainty Principle.
It seems that lately, nothing makes sense; the closer you look, the less you know. I think about what that means. And then I think of Ani…
I met her three weeks after my sixteenth birthday.
She was new in school. I was eating lunch in my usual corner and she just came up to me like she’d always known me. She said, ‘What’s for lunch?’ and I mumbled something lame. Then she sat down, took my sandwich right out of my hand and took a bite.
She smiled, her pupils dilated, and there and then I thought she was the coolest chick I’d ever known. And it wasn’t just because she was beautiful and Italian and sitting right in front of me.
She handed me back my peanut-butter sandwich and I introduced myself while she finished chewing.
‘Hi, I’m Mike. Mike McKenzie.’
She swallowed and replied, ‘I’m Anna. Anna Phallaxis.’
I must have looked uncertain like I was trying to connect the dots because she tilted her head slightly and looked concerned.
I guess my grades would suggest that I’m smart – they’re mostly As – but sometimes I think I’m actually stupid-smart, which means that I don’t get what’s going on, despite my academic success. I looked down at my sandwich and then up at her and the penny dropped and she laughed and then a second penny dropped which was that Anna was just messing with me.
‘I’m not really Anna. I’m Ani. Ani de Fiore,’ and she smiled again and all I could see was her soft sensuous mouth and the perfect symmetry of her teeth.
‘You wanna bite?’ she added, and she handed me a baguette stuffed with salad and salami.
I hesitated, because after all it’s not every day a girl as luminous as Ani de Fiore sits next to you and offers you a bite of her baguette.
‘Take a chomp and we’ll be even.’
‘Even better acquainted. It’s my first day. I don’t know anyone,’ she said.
‘Oh yeah, of course.’ I got the picture and my mind started running the calcs.
But Ani just hit ctrl+alt+del on my probability algorithms and she gently said, ‘Hey Mikey, I don’t share my lunch with just anyone, despite the fact I’m the new girl in school. I saw you this morning, I was parking my car, and I said to myself that guy’s a Sleeper and so I wanted to meet you.’
My heart pounded. Sleeper? What did she mean? Sleeper Agent perhaps? And I glimpsed a kaleidoscope of exciting futures in the sunlight and I wondered if any of them might be real. I’d probably zoned out for a second but it might have been longer. My mind returned to the moment and to Ani looking at me quizzically.
‘Meet me? For lunch?’ I said. It was the first thing that came into my head. I might have blushed.
‘Yes, why not a lunch date?’ and she laughed and her hand brushed my knee and she looked at me and held my gaze two seconds longer than any of her older Italian brothers probably would have allowed. Yet her eyes suggested something deeper than a harmless flirtation, they suggested that she didn’t have any older Italian brothers looking out for her, that she was somehow alone. I felt myself tremble and I was afraid that she’d notice.
But she already had.
Heat rushed up from deep inside me – it was like my core went nuclear – and my blood surged. Then the pressure wave hit. My mind buckled and blew out like the molten glass of ten-thousand skyscraper windows two seconds after the blast.
I never saw her coming.
I’d woken up that day and it had been such a pure morning.