Somewhere, a mother is putting her children to bed and a young man is waiting nervously at his date’s door. Somewhere, a gardener’s flowers bloom and a dog is urinating on the neighbour’s lawn – again. Next door, the couple are yelling at each other over preference of the television channel. And here is the smell of cold and rain on dirt and the inexplicable sense of unease that sticks with you when you wake up.
I tried to remember every detail, even details I did not experience, every moment of everyone’s life the day the sky changed.
The weatherman forecasted partly cloudy weather, but no scientist or authority could predict awakening to a misty reflection that blanketed our atmosphere. I remember the splinter I got in my finger from climbing on top of our picket fence as I stared back at my minuscule image bounced back in the mirror-like sky. My mother had screamed for me to get back inside the house but she did not understand the wondrous view of the Earth animated before my eyes.
When I was nine my parents took me to Millennium Park in Chicago where I stood in front of the Cloud Gate sculpture and saw the entire expanse of the plaza warped across the bean-like shape. And I was so tall, so elongated against the curves, like I could hug the world in the length of my tiny limbs. Now, where the neighbours screamed at the sky instead of each other, I could only feel the fascination of being able to see that version of the world once more.
A basic instinct would be to call it the end of the world. Broadcasters used terms like “extra-terrestrial” and “unnatural phenomenon” to describe the seemingly shallow, yet questionably endless expanse of reflection that science could not comprehend. I imagined an alien invasion being plucked straight from a sci-fi novel and relocated into our reality, where on the surface of a clear blue-sky you could see yourself walking to the supermarket. It was kind of like the moon when you drove in a car. No matter how far you went, your reflection would stay in the same place. This new sky played mind tricks like that. From the central point of your sight it zoned in on you so no matter what, you would always see yourself at the core. I saw it as a giant eye, and we were inside its iris. It sure made you feel imprisoned.
After three years of living in unresolved terror, the world subsided into a strange sort or acceptance. Though that faint reflection in the sky remained, so did sunshine, and so did rain. Night took over day and night came back around. Life went on. The only difference was that if you looked up, you would be looking right back. Fear of the unknown, of course, had essentially driven most of the population mad – some war-crazy – and the rest to live in hope that their Governments had a plan.
And they did.
The Government called it the Coexistence.