Amber Sparks

The City Outside of Itself

The City longed to travel. It hadn't been anywhere in ages, and it wanted to see what things looked liked outside of itself. So the City asked his best friend Tammie if she would mind giving him a lift. Tammie took her gum out of her mouth and twirled it around and around her index finger, pink on peach on pink, while she thought about it.

Okay, she said, and popped the gum back into her mouth. The City thought that was kind of gross but he didn't say anything since she was giving him a lift, after all. He barely had time to wince before Tammie was hoisting him up onto her shoulders, where he rested like the set of a complicated play.

Where are we going, Tammie asked. The City hadn't thought this part through. He asked Tammie to give him some time, so she tried on dresses at Topshop while the City read through his guidebooks. Hurry up, she said through a layer of fuchsia organza. I'm just about done here. While she was ringing up her stuff, the City decided on Mexico. Airfare was dirt cheap right now. Plus he'd never been there before, and yet it wasn't that far away. He could get back pretty quickly if he needed to.

Tammie told the clerk thank you and reached for her bag. The City was super excited; he was scribbling notes about all the places they would go, like the ruins, and the beaches, and then maybe to visit his cousin, Mexico City. That would be sweet. The City told Tammie he'd decided, but she shook her head.

I changed my mind, she said. You're getting really heavy, and anyway, I have to go to work tomorrow. And she lifted the City from her shoulders and settled him gently back into the spot where he belonged, the spot that he'd worn into the general shape of him from all the years of being there.

The streets of the City were flooded with sadness for a long while after that.

Amber Sparks's work has been featured or is forthcoming in various publications, including New York Tyrant, Unsaid, Bust Down the Door and Eat All the Chickens, Wigleaf, and the Collagist. She is the fiction editor at Emprise Review, and can be found online at

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