It was a crosswalk like any other. I’d traveled it at least a thousand times on my way to and from work. Twice a day, five days a week, for the last eleven years. This morning was no different – my grey suit blended into the hundreds of others, the grey buildings blended into the grey sky. Work, eat, sleep… I was on autopilot. I left my apartment every day at 6:05am. I reached this crosswalk at 6:14 exactly. It was always green.
As I approached it, my mind was elsewhere – caught in the never ending rut that we so often find ourselves. Work, eat, sleep – work, eat, sleep – work, eat, sleep – I wasn’t thinking about how I’d hit the snooze button one too many times, about how I was approaching the crosswalk at 6:19, five minutes late.
I didn’t see the car.
A hand grabbed me roughly from behind, pulling me back onto the sidewalk a split second before the yellow taxi whizzed by. I stood there in a state of shock for several seconds, staring at the spot on the road that could have been my grave.
As the shock slowly subsided, I turned to thank my savior – but he was gone. Instead, I saw the numbers.
They were on top of every single person’s head. A countdown. I glanced to my right as a young woman walked by. Her numbers were green: 60y-7m-8d-8h-8m-57s. I translated the code easily in my head: 60 years, 7 months, 8 days, 8 minutes, 57 seconds. She gave me the evil eye for staring. I quickly looked away and focused on a different man of about forty. His numbers were yellow: 8y-2m-9d-10h-43m-3s.
The crosswalk turned green and people hurried across, unaware of the colored countdowns above their heads - some green, some yellow. I pushed my way forward with the crowd, my hands shaking. On the other side of the crosswalk, I saw it – a small child, wrapped in coats much too thick for the weather, a bald head, a weak smile. Her numbers were displayed in an ugly blood red: 2m-1d-1h-34m-59s. Her mother was pushing her in a stroller, holding another baby on her hip, completely unaware of the death sentence which rose above her daughter’s head. The numbers over the baby’s head were no better: 15y-11m-2d-18h-1m-31s.
It was a death clock, a countdown to when they were going to die – set in stone by the universe. It was unfair – I wanted to help them, to comfort them, but I felt myself being swept along through the crowd. What could I have done, anyway?
I made my way down the street to yet another crosswalk, watching the seconds, the minutes, the hours, the days, the months, the years, ticking by above each head. Greens and yellows blended together with the occasional ugly red sticking out. I passed by a young woman with dreads, sitting just outside an alleyway and strumming on her guitar. A shaggy dog sat at her feet. The dog’s numbers were yellow: 3y-4m-30d-9h-7m-55s. The girl’s, on the other hand, were a deep red. 10m-7s and counting down. As I stared, I saw 10 become 9 and 9 fade to 8.
“Enjoying the show, sir?” she asked, pleased by my attentiveness. “Care to tip?”
I dug into my pocket and pulled out my wallet as another man approached. He looked angry.
“Trying to run off, whore?” he snapped, ignoring me.
“It’s my day off.” she responded, unconcerned.
“Well now your day is back on.” He roughly grabbed her by her arm, hauling her up. Her smile fell as he dragged her back toward the alley.
I was scared. I’d never dealt with thugs before – middle class upbringing, Harvard graduate – but as her clock grew redder then I knew I had to at least try to do something.
“Back off.” I said, in the strongest voice I could muster.
“Stay out of this, gringo.” The man snapped.
“I – “ I dug my wallet out of my pocket and flipped it open. “I’m Officer Smith and you’re under –“
I didn’t even get to complete my sentence before the man bolted. Immediately, the woman’s clock reset: 40y-9m-29d-1m-59s, before fading away. I looked around, still confused. The numbers were gone, the countdowns were gone, the colors…. all gone.
I could hear the woman talking, but it sounded far away. “You’re not a cop, are you? I’m sure you’re not, but thanks…” I looked back at her as her voice faded. She was staring just above my head.
“You’re welcome.” I said quickly before turning and hurrying away. I was happy to blend back in – grey suit, grey tie, grey sky – I was happy the madness was over… but I almost wished I had asked her – what color am I?
Do you think if Aaliya was still alive she'd be bigger than Beyoncè?
Let’s keep it real:
One In A Million = 3M sold in America
The Writing’s On The Wall = 8M sold in America
Aaliyah/The Red Album = 2M sold in America
Survivor = 4.7M sold in America
I didn’t even bother w/ WW sales bc that would be so unfair to her. All signs point to a big fat NO especially since her last album was looking like a flop before you know what unfortunately happened. She was not as big as you all think. Trust me. I’m sick of this comparison.