It was a basement smelling of musty books and sandalwood incense. I walked down carpeted stairs. Someone played an accordion in the corner. Eleven people sat cross-legged in a circle. There was an open spot for me.
There were four hundred people on the hill wearing black. The rain fell steady. The police told them to disperse. They ate vegan cookies in the park.
The moon rose, as big and orange as a prize-winning pumpkin, trembling in the icy sky. It held up the bridge for a moment, then pulled itself over the railing, silhouetting cars and trucks against its cratered face.
I sat down and folded my legs beneath me on the plush red carpet. The others in the circle closed their eyes and hummed. I watched, breathing calm, feeling the breath enter and exit my lungs, my throat, my mouth and nose. The man at the head of the circle stood. He wore sunglasses and had a long, dark ponytail.
After the park, the four hundred walked down Broadway to the bars and coffee shops, warming the chill from their hands. White vans filled with neo-Nazis began to chug up the hill. The police tried to stop them at Melrose. The Antifa and the Nazis could not meet with the police between them.
The moon slid up the sky sleek and quick, shimmering golden orange like the belly of a koi. A photographer circled the mound, snapping pictures. We heard a seagull cry.
The man with long hair approached and motioned for me to stand. He whispered in my ear a mystery that shivered me with hope, with promise.
“How do you know this?” I asked.
“Because,” he said, “I’m the High Priest.”
The white vans vomited their cargo, then swallowed it back up again. The police went home. The Antifa squeezed the rain from their sweaters and scarves and rolled up their banners by the oil drum fires in the Pine Street alleys.
Someone broke a window. Someone else sprayed graffiti on the college walls. And everyone went home.
The moon exhaled, and in its sacred contractions it journeyed ever upward in the sky, pulled along on invisible strings. It shrank, its orange light no longer visible on the rippled surface of the lake, competing as it was with the city lights.
We stood on the edge of the mound, facing east. The photographer left. We descended the shadowed slopes, clasping our cold hands, bursting our warm hearts.
This post is the result of a collage writing exercise created by Karen Brennan. The pieces of the collage are 3 different storylines: (1) a personal memory or dream, (2) a current news story or cultural event, and (3) a detailed description of the natural world. This exercise and more like it can be found in the book Now Write! Fiction Writing Exercises from Today’s Best Writers & Teachers.