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I have walked this town for ten years. It's a southern town to be sure, but not a particularly sleepy one. There is always a whisper of nearby cars, the odd dog walker, and those curious folks who slip around the dark with no apparent destination. They all combine to form the tapestry of night, and I have always drawn comfort in them.

But now the streets are quiet to the point of spooky, unpeopled to the point of sinister. I see shapes in the shadows and I take corners with an inhale. That's not even the silliest part. I find myself hurrying toward the back stretch of my nightly route, where a quiet apartment building stands, its hulking, shadowy mass dotted with soft blue rectangles of light. I imagine someone like me in those rectangles, perhaps watching the news or a late-night movie, and I feel a little bit less alone.

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Midnight at Nine
May 2020