Here’s a flash fiction story inspired by the Edward Hopper painting Nighthawks.
I assume I was nothing before I found myself sitting here, staring straight ahead. But I don’t know for sure.
This is what I do know: I can’t move my head. I can’t smoke the cigarette pressed between the fingers of my right hand or drink the cup of coffee resting on top of the counter. I can’t touch the woman seated next to me or talk to the other two men.
This is my life. Suspended in warm, yellow light. Unable to move, locked in a soundless existence—no water running, fan whirring or grill sizzling. No sirens or street sounds beyond the glass.
Time drags on with no discernible shift—no transition to morning. Here night never ends.
Yet my mind still works. In fact, it never stops; I’m cursed with thoughts that run continuously.
I wonder: Why am I here? And where exactly is here? What purpose do I serve? Why put me next to these people and not give me an opportunity to interact with them?
Do I have a past? Did I exist before I became frozen in this moment—captured and imprisoned for eternity?
As you can see, I have nothing but questions that yield no answers. If only I could talk to the other people. If only I could pry open my lips and make a sound. Then maybe we could communicate. Maybe we could figure out our reason for being here. Then I could scream for help. But who would hear my voice and who would come to our aid?
If only I could stand up and walk around, stretch my legs and peek outside the window.
But then I would upset the balance of the composition. And so I will stay in place. Funny, right? I don’t have a choice. I can’t move even if I wanted to. So I’ll be here any time you feel like looking at me.