Urban Volcano

Fiction by Börkur Sigurbjörnsson

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She walked along the pothole filled gravel road, towards the bottom of the valley. The sun shone high in the sky and not a straw stirred in the perfect stillness. The majestic mountains rose above the fields and along the valley floor the river rattled like a snake. The water rushing forward, eager to make its way towards the deep ocean. Babbling brooks flowed down the slopes on both sides of the river until they merged into the bustling stream.

Life As It Should Be — Illustration by Börkur Sigurbjörnsson
Illustration by Börkur Sigurbjörnsson

He walked along the pavement at the edge of the broad avenue leading to the main square. The sun filled the street with divine light and not a hair fluttered in the perfect calm. On both sides of the thoroughfare tall buildings reared their towers into the blue sky, and along the street there was a constant flow of pedestrians on their way to the subway station. Even more people flowed from the buildings and side streets and merged into the sea of commuters.

She listened to the burbling river, the bleating sheep and the tweeting birds. Familiar languages that all merged into one whole. The language of nature. Familiar. Easily understood.

He listened to the murmur of the people, muffling teenagers, loud tourists and decorous office workers. Strange languages that merged into one whole. Foreign. Hard to decipher.

She left the road behind and strolled down the hill towards the floor of the valley. She enjoyed being in nature. To her, the scenery was like a flock of living souls. She looked from a hummock to a rock—from a rock to a hummock. She greeted a moss bearded boulder and asked if it was lonely in its old age. She addressed a tousled knoll and asked if it wasn’t wonderful to grow up in the glimmering sun.

He moved away from the edge of the street and into the center, allowing himself to float with the sea of people towards the square. He enjoyed being alone in the crowd. To him, the people were a part of the scenery. He looked at the faces of the commuters breaking their way against the flow. He looked into the serious face of a middle-aged man who’s sole concern seemed to be focused on getting to the next destination in life. He looked into the smiling face of a teenage girl who spoke joyfully into the air and a handsfree headset.

She felt as if she was surrounded by hustle and bustle—embroidered into the natural fabric that resonated with mutual recognition and formed a whole. She loved being caught in the vortex of nature.

He felt as if he was alone in the world—isolated from the people around him who barely registered his existence. He loved his solitary stroll through the sterile swarm of souls.

They looked at the road ahead, smiled and thought—she out loud and he to himself—this is life as it should be.