Brutalist Stories #22

Concrete Recall

Preston Bus Station

He makes his way, amidst the ruins, through the mist of the night, slowly turning into a fog of dawn, that will lift soon and uncover the detail that he seeks.

Light floods its way under the white cloak of the haze and pierces through cracks in concrete and stone. Slowly it highlights the ruptures, the marks of time, the once strong and proud structure left to disarray and dereliction.

There are stories here, memories, thousands of them? Millions if not more. How many came through here, how many had their moment? Some of joy, some of sorrow, all feeling all the same. Was it them, all those people that brought this place to life, that created it, or can it exist without them? Does it exist without them? Does it hold meaning without the people that would once flow through it? Does it in some way hold their thought? Their memory?

Ghosts, millions of them exist here in this place, they’re held by it. He runs his hand along the crumbling concrete wall, a moment of tactile feedback and with each flicker of sensation memory runs through his fingertips, up his arm and into his mind.

They’re in the concrete, these memories, it sees and absorbs and holds all, and maybe somewhere, it holds what he is looking for. That time and place, so many years ago, almost forgotten through age and experience. A different time, a different person, but holding on to that moment of his past that lingers and affects.

There is only change, even the concrete can tell you that, despite its strength it too shifts and crumbles and falls, I’ve not fallen yet, but I have shifted. That change, so gradual, you walk and wander and search and seek and change, you’re different, somehow. But there are moments, this moment that this place, that this concrete holds, that are apparent, that hold themselves up and say, ‘You are now, and forever will be someone different.’

He wants that moment, he wants to understand what happened here, why it put him on the path that it did, and if there could have ever been any other way. So, he makes his way amidst these ruins and tries to see. Through his fingertips, through the coarse sensation, back to that time and place, and in a flicker, it comes.

The concrete, it holds it, I know it, and there it is, the smile, the warm embrace, the cold of the morning, the light of the clear sky and within it, a body and mind that felt love, but it’s different. Somehow, it’s different from what I thought, from what I remember, there’s a darkness lingering here, one that I didn’t notice as a child but is apparent now. That choice, the one she made, it was never the right one, and now, where does that leave me? Amidst these ruins, surrounded by these ghosts. It leaves me changed, once more.

Building inspiration: Preston Bus Station

Musical inspiration: Nils Frahm – Chant

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Brutalist Stories #22