Written by Annette Leddy
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Earth Still, 2015
She took the elevator up from the parking garage and entered the cool, white station. Observing the blue identification key hanging by a chain around her neck, the guards let her pass through the turnstile, where she waited on a cold travertine bench. She gazed at the mountain wall opposite and the row of trees equidistantly spaced and trimmed to identical branch width, evoking the need to count them (2-4-6-8-10) and then to seek other geometric parallels in the landscape and to wonder if any of them had occurred naturally.
The all-white tram approached the station, and she thought that because of the absence of signage or billboards or commercial images, this could be any place in the world but really no place in the world, really only a museum in Los Angeles or a place in a movie about the future. Now the future is here, she thought, and it turns out not to be a white, art-directed experience, but just unsettling, though to her still something unaccountably amusing, like a joke in the form of an event. […]
Tram doors swished open, and she stepped into the car on the end and her favorite seat, the one facing backwards because she liked to watch the unravelling tracks as the tram climbed the mountain. She remembered travelling with her family to Communist Yugoslavia when she was a child, and she remembered how empty it had felt to see no advertising anywhere, how much more foreign than Western Europe. They had taken a kind of tram there too, deep down inside a gigantic grotto where they passed through one cave after another, and it got colder and colder and was at times completely dark, though certain spectacular ice formations had been lit, as in Disneyland rides.
The museum tram of the present pulled up the hill more slowly than the architect had intended. It was supposed to be a speed train but at full speed had emitted a high-pitched sound that was torment to the residents of surrounding communities, and so they had agreed do slow it, making it more like a funicular ride offering views of the estates of the rich on the opposing mountainside: swimming pools peeked out here and there, and there was even a vineyard.
© 2015 Annette Leddy; Los Angeles: What Books Press, an imprint of the Glass Table Collective