The colors began to slowly creep out of the room. He stared at the hands on the table in front of him. The veins made no sense in their shapes. All nine fingers seemed tired of what has happened to them. The places they had visited were not all made for humans.
But now everything seemed here, in this place, in the small living room. Or here on the round table. His right hand held on to a flat yellow pencil. Sharpened with a pocket knife it looked so pathetic and flawed. The colors crept out even more now. The piece of paper between his hands began to glow a bit at first, then more. Eventually it seemed to be the only object visible. It was a rectangle of stored brightness, now playing a game of memory.
Soon the piece of paper also turned grey. And the entire room slowly dove into its black and white version for the night. There was a window, of course. There was a sidewalk. There was a street. A streetlight should usually illuminate parts of the room even if there was no other light source. But tonight the light was broken. The bulb must have given up. It was some perfect timing for the new moon. So there was not much. Not much to see. It felt as if the visible had given room to the audible.
Sounds began to grow and grow and grow. Until the ticking clock was a huge presence, taking up almost the entire room. The voices outside of the window turned from irrelevant whisper to what appeared to be the clear flow of a dialogue. A neighbor had behaved in an unexpected way, and it had upset somebody else. All this to the point where everybody appeared crazy. A child cried in the building on the other side of the street. The boy did not like something, and he tried so many ways to make that clear and as loudly as possible. A gentle vibration turned into a louder and louder rumble, until the street car came to a stop just meters from the house. A drunk man must have been the only passenger whose stop this was. His song, or whatever that noise was supposed to be, became the last thing left behind once the tram left.
It was too late for her to call. And there was no real way to call her. Anything that they could have spoken about would need to wait for another night to pass. The white piece of paper also became just a silly object, waiting for a message that could not arrive. The man stood up and walked closer to the window. Now he could see the darkness outside, as well as the silhouettes of buildings just like the one he lived in, with windows just like the one he was standing in. With people living behind those windows, people very similar to him. Some had their lights on. Others were probably doing nothing, or something that should be done with the lights off.
Perhaps some had left for work, the night shift had already began. So it was possible that some of the windows were indeed dark because the apartments were empty. Only ticking clocks filled their spaces, and the sounds of the conversations of others, and the rumbling of the next tram now arriving in the station. They did come by quite often. All night long. The drunkard must have fallen somewhere. His singing was no longer there. And even the dog had actually shut up. Someone had managed to quiet down the child. And the neighbors must have noticed that someone was listening.
The man opened the window. He turned the handle and the wooden frame made a familiar sound, as some tension was released from the ill fitting contraption. It was a cool night. The air was the usual mix of new breeze, mixed with the stale stench of burned coal and steel. That smell was everywhere and in everything. But it was probably most beautiful in the evening air. It was nature. It was a certain kind of spice that had been added to the otherwise odorless and boring. He wished she would call. But since she had passed away, her calls became much more random and rare. It was as if she had moved so far away that the connection became more and more difficult. The numbers she had to dial became longer and longer. How many times would she need to turn that dial in order to hear his tired voice? It was so late already. It was so late in every sense of the word.
And then the phone rang after all.