Completion of the Owens-Illinois Glass Company building in 1936 — the first building to be covered entirely in glass.
The ice storm hit the city overnight. Joseph could hear that strange sharp crackle of rain and ice pellets hitting his apartment window as he drifted to sleep.
As a weather event, ice has a kind of terrible beauty that’s different from snow. It creates a deceptive gloss over the road, slick patches on the sidewalk, the weight of sharp icicles hanging from branches and power lines. You can slip on familiar ground, or be pelted by cold shards as you pass beneath a tree.
The following morning, Joseph woke in his 3rd floor apartment building. If the storm had been bad enough, perhaps his workday would be cancelled.
He sat up in bed, blinking in disbelief. The room was too bright. He was certain he’d closed the curtains last night, but he could see through the window to the buildings across the street.
His typical view normally presented a series of brownstone walkups — connected buildings with similar brickwork colors and patterns. This morning they looked like they were all made entirely of glass.
Joseph’s own building was reflected in the facing glass, a similar transparent shine absorbing the usual brickwork. The wall of his bedroom was completely clear.
He stepped out of bed to confirm the strange illusion. The floor was unnaturally cold against his feet, and he nearly slipped.
Instead of hardwood and carpet, he stood as if in the middle of a frozen lake.
Cracks appeared beneath him. He held his arms out steady, afraid to move in any direction.
Joseph imagined a cold voice speaking through the frozen front of his television set. It might warn of a freak storm making its way across the continent, transforming other cities into shapes of glass and ice.
Another sharp crack sounded. His upstairs neighbor fell through the ceiling. A king-sized bed of glass followed him down, shattering the floor of Joseph’s apartment.
Now Joseph was like a detached icicle, falling and shattering on the transformed rooms below.