It was crowded.
The ground cities were always crowded though. The rigid class system was to blame for that.
People pushed past each other, shoulder to shoulder.
No one ever spoke. They were all content to stay absorbed in their own pointless little lives. Their heads down and their eyes averted.
There was only the noise of hundreds of thousands of pairs of shoes, stomping, sprinting, and skipping along the roads and streets. But no voices, and no faces.
A girl who stood still. She stood alone. She was different.
Her blonde hair water-falled down her back as her chin tilted upward. She saw everything but no one saw her. Words had yet deigned to escape her mouth… but they were growing bolder.
She stood and watched. People hustled and bustled around her. It was an endless sea of faceless beings. No one looked up, but her.
As she watched, she observed. She examined. She learned. She remembered.
She remembered the woman who ran by and dropped her bracelet while fiddling with her purse. She remembered the old lady with wrinkled hands and a slight limp, walking with bare feet. She remembered the man who wore rings on every one of his fingers. She remembered the boy who tripped on his own shoe laces because they had become untied.
And she observed a man who was different from the rest.
Instead of walking with his eyes concealed and face hidden, he sauntered with his head held high. The only face among an infinite sea of the faceless. Of course, it might have been for the simple reason that he was blind and couldn’t see anyway and thus no one could see him. The delusional perspective could be almost true for someone who couldn’t see at all in the first place. However, although he pointed his nose more upward then not, and although his face was clearly visible, still his eyes were slightly hidden under a pair of sunglasses. It was like any blind person of course, and yet as the girl watched she still sensed something unusual about the man.
She stared at him from afar and watched him slowly draw closer.
He carried a long black wooden cane. He used it to define a visible but of obviously invisible path for himself to walk along. Every now and then the tip of his cane would hit a passerby. Most would ignore it, hating the prospect of having to interact with anyone; to have to look at anyone. However, few would give the man a devastatingly scrutinizing glare before scurrying away. None spoke though. That is, except for the man. Every time his cane hit an innocent bystander he would promptly mutter an apology. And because his voice was the only voice in a crowd of faceless beings and in a cacophony of footsteps, she was able to hear it. It pierced it’s way gracefully and unhindered through all the pollution that was noise. It sent a deep and raspy note through the mass and all the way to her ears. The sound was almost foreign and yet amazingly profound at the same time.
After a while she noticed an odd pattern in the direction that the blind man was traveling. If she hadn’t already observed the fact that he was blind, she could have almost sworn he was purposely walking straight toward her. Closer and closer he came, bumping into one person after the other and mumbling the same apology over and over. Finally he was only ten feet away and she could see all of him.
He appeared taller than he had from far off. He wore a long black coat that almost touched the ground. He had a long, shaggy, salt and pepper beard set underneath a thin mouth and a long pointed nose that could have supported five pairs of sunglasses.
At last, coincidentally or not so coincidentally the fated cane hit her ankle.
“Oh I’m sorry, so sorry. Forgive me.” The man whispered.
Words had ultimately gained the courage they had lacked earlier and before the man was able to walk away, they rushed out. “It’s alright.”
The man paused. He hadn’t expected a response. “Thank you.” He rumbled.” A silence followed between the two of them. “I’m blind.” He finally said flatly.
“I know.” She replied.
“Might I ask what your name is?” A small smirk stretched across his face.
She peered at him with a straight mouth for a while and then said “Dempsey.”
“Ah Dempsey. And how are you this day?” There was a jollier note in his voice now.
“And what are you doing in the middle of the road today my dear?” He planted his cane on the ground right between his legs and placed both hands on top. She noticed he was wearing gray finger-less gloves.
“I’m…watching.” She didn’t know exactly how else to explain what she was doing in the middle of the road.
“A very unusual thing to do. But of course a unique thing to do.” He smirked again, but it was now directly aimed at her.
“…What are you doing?” She asked.
“What am I doing?” He repeated and looked up at the sky and the cities that floated in its bosom. “I have been searching for someone to talk to.” He turned his head slowly back to face her. “There are not many people left who like to talk anymore now are there?”
“No.” Dempsey agreed.
“Dempsey my dear.” He licked his lips. “Would you do me a marvelous favor?” He put his hand inside his coat, apparently reaching into a pocket. Dempsey took a small step back. He pulled out an envelope. “Would you be so kind as to deliver this letter to the address on the back?” He handed her the piece of paper.
She didn’t take it but read the address on the back of the envelope from where she stood. She had never been to the location before but it would be quite possible for her to find her way.
“I can deliver it for you.” She consented at last. She was just about to take it from his hand when he dropped it, and it floated gracefully to the ground, five feet away.
She bent down and crawled over to where it was to retrieve it. Her thumb ran over the address before she stood back up. When she lifted her eyes to face the man once more however, there was no man to be seen. The black coat, the black cane, his sunglasses and his gray finger-less gloves had all vanished along with him. Nothing was left except for the letter Dempsey held in her hands.
She searched back and forth among the crowd trying to find evidence of him even ever have existing. She looked above the crowd for a single face but nothing was there. She listened for the distinct note of his raspy voice, but to no avail.
When she was finally about give up she caught the smallest glimpse of a coat tail along with a gray-finger-less-gloved pinkie finger and a cane held high in the air. And she spotted a long, shaggy, salt and pepper beard set underneath a thin mouth and a nose that could have supported five pairs of sunglasses but, was now for some reason supporting not even a single pair of spectacles. And before she could blink he had slipped behind another mob of people.
She dropped her eyes back down to the letter in her hands. And then back up again at the mass of void beings. And back down. And she decided she wouldn’t deliver the letter. No, not any longer. She walked away. And she remembered the blind man who wasn’t blind.