Through the balcony, Tom saw fluffy white sheep juggling red and gray bricks that gravitated towards each other to form edifices that dominated the skyline and obscured the hills lying beyond. And yet, when looking down from those invisible hills, all of those megastructures shrank down into a brick that could be clasped and hidden within his hand. A hand that was now holding a small volume. "What are you looking at?" Lana asked him as the lawn chair shifted under her weight, its blue and white straps compressing like metal springs pushed inward by an AA battery.
Tom wasn't sure what to say. Lana was the type of girl who wanted a pleasant conversation. "All these tall buildings," he muttered, "I can't quite see the sky." Lana touched his shoulder with her left hand. She stretched out her feet so that they dangled in between the vertical gaps in the balcony. "Maybe you could see the sky in your book," she giggled. "But seriously though, look down at what's going on right by the entrance."
His wrist driven into the armrest of his chair, Tom leaned his head on his left hand and looked down. As unsatisfying sight it was, he thought. A guy and a girl on the bench, joined together as in a statue. She was embedded into him, glued onto his lap. Her eyes were closed. Her faded pink lips, reminiscent of freshly squeezed-out toothpaste, opened frequently to take in deep breaths. His jeans were bunched up in dense zigzag-like folds and he would occasionally pat them down to straighten them out. Once in a while he would seem to stare at the nape of her neck, covered in thick black curls.
Tom's palm grazed his cheek. The skin there was submerged in waves of balmy heat. "They are so still," Tom whispered, "I wonder what they are thinking." Lana chuckled and said, "So much wondering and pondering. Isn't it obvious? They are enjoying each other's company. In every possible way."
Tom kept thinking about how Lana would fit into that perfectly assembled pair. She was a jittery type. He didn't think she would be able to keep quiet even for three minutes. Just the other night, as Tom opened the door to let her in, she started rattling on about the annoying guy at the grocery store. The lanky fellow bumped into her as he was squeezing through a narrow aisle with his shopping cart. Lana's bottle of orange juice took flight and shattered upon landing. The catastrophic leak painted the black tiles in a wild gaudy orange, but also penetrated the sacred space of her flip flops, sweetening and juicing her toes.
Apologizing quickly, the young gentleman quit the scene of the crime before she had the chance to tell him how gross and obnoxious the whole thing was. She couldn't digest the indignation. It got stuck in her throat and traveled back up her esophagus. Her neck shook and her clenched jaws turned her face into a rictus. Thankfully, Tom's ears were all too happy to absorb the bile she needed to eject.
Yes, Tom couldn't quite picture her enjoying a quiet moment of affection. "If I was down there with him on that bench, I don't think he would be so still," Lana announced in an animated voice. "I think his hands would have been all over my face, he would be breathing rapidly, he would be talking me into following him into some secluded space. Because this is no place for lovers. There are too many prying eyes. People coming and going, entering the building and leaving." And people like us, Tom thought to himself, perched on balconies like birds with beady, curious eyes unable to resist watching what could be a spectacle but yet wasn't.
He stated in a cautious voice,"But what, what if they were actually sitting together on that hill up there that's a few miles away, where no one could see them. But then you wouldn't see them either." Lana interrupted him abruptly: "Stop. I hate your hypotheticals. Why does your mind always end up coming up with random, irrelevant observations?"
She wrenched the book from his hand, opened it and smothered his face with it. A monumental whiteness covered Tom's field of vision. A spiraling path of crystal brightness pulled him into its flow. But then Tom saw her floating in that malleable space of liquidy clay, her voice mixing the smooth white into a froth that first turned gray but then eventually glowed with an orange that tickled him all over. A silly smile came over him. Lana, was she still here? Was she far or was she near?