With cities, it is as with dreams: everything imaginable can be dreamed, but even the most unexpected dream is a rebus that conceals a desire or, its reverse, a fear. Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspectives deceitful, and everything conceals something else.
–Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities
At this point in her life, Alcippe has mostly finished with questions. Instead, people feel free to direct their (presumptuous, unwelcome) questions at her.
Well, it’s lovely that your career is going so well, but what else do you have going on in your life right now? Single at your age, don’t you think you’re pushing it? Why didn’t you approve my permit for this new (variations)?
She’s got her professional, deflecting smile down to an art form.
Behind the practiced glare of a woman who knows how to get things done—a vital skill in a bureaucracy like the city of Sophono’s Department of Transportation—Alcippe is starting to feel tired.
Oh, there are still days when emails get answered near-instantaneously, the gears of the local government flow smoothly in place, and she can almost feel the well-oiled hum of the city purring around her offices in contentment. There are still nights when she comes home to her otherwise empty apartment, and she can look outside the window at the ordered grids of streetlights and highway traffic and feel full inside. Sometimes, it feels like enough.
Increasingly, she comes home to a bottle of wine, maybe a trashy novel, and a hollowness that gnaws at her from somewhere in her esophagus. She catches herself daydreaming about getting into fights with faceless strangers, or packing a bag and escaping to another place, somewhere far away and unimaginable, like the surreal cityscapes that she sometimes paints.
After years of service to the Department of Transportation, questions are starting to enter Alcippe’s mind again.
Has she given enough, yet? Can she rest now?
(Part of The Veil Is Tearing. Communal game here: https://storium.com/game/the-veil-is-tearing-communal)
Hosted and narrated by:
Scenes played: 10
License: Community License