Saturday, December 19, 2009
I exhale and a tidal wave of smoke jumps from my lips into the cold night sky. The world is sleeping around me. It’s alive under the skin, but on the surface, the city sleeps. I breathe in sharply. The cold air swirls around me. I hunch over the rail as I look down onto the city streets. It’s raining. The water pelts the black ground, mixes with the tar and grime that fill the roads, flowing soundlessly down to the sewers. The hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. I can feel someone here. The same feeling I get when someone looks across the room and watches me for a few seconds too long to be causal. I don’t look up. It could only be a few people. No one knows about this place save the people I tell, and if anyone else did, they wouldn’t have the guts or the stomach to get here. I highlight the way, illuminate the path. A stray rain drop clips the end of my smoke. Sighing, I take out my lighter and fire it up. The heat feels refreshing and comforting against the night. I can feel the rain hitting my coat, sliding down my back. Cars pass unnoticed, scurrying to their homes. It’s not even that late. The world has to get up in the morning. I hunch back over and turn my gaze back across the street. There’s a bar at the bottom of the pit, street level windows blinking with the pulse of music lost ion the rain. People dash from the entrance to cabs, shielding themselves out of the water descending upon them. No one looks up. No one tries to catch raindrops on their tongues. This is not a place for those kinds of actions. Here, this city, is a place for judgment. To do your work, be graded, be rewarded and punished accordingly. People here live that ritual day after day, from the moment their born to the day they die. This city is dark, has forbidden the sun. I can’t remember the last time it wasn’t raining. I can hear footsteps behind me. Right on time. I invited them up here when they said they wished they could rise above it all. I turn around. He’s here. He looks nervous, scared and curious. His veins are pumping with adrenaline from having reached here. I wave him closer to me, closer to the edge. He follows my hand, waiting for instructions. I ask him what he wants. He lies. I don’t say anything. He stammers out what I’m sure is a prepare speech. I don’t say anything until he’s done. I ask him what he wants again. He gives me a different answer. I ask again and again. He wants different lives to live, wants a different job, and wants to have made different choices. Finally, he says what I’ve looking for. He tells me the truth. I’m tired of the same day, he says, over and over. I close my eyes. I had plans for this man, but now I can’t go through with them. My loss is his gain, though I’m sure others don’t see it that way. I hold out my hand and he takes it. I smile at him and he smiles back, unsure. I turn to the railing and jump up onto the precipice. He looks scarred but clumsily follows me, holding tight to my hand. Close your eyes, I tell him. He does. I can see him shaking, the rain chilling him through his thin shell of a coat. I breathe in deep and blow another cloud of smoke out over the street far below. I whisper to him. The more I say, the more I talk, the more relaxed he becomes. I tell him of a city where there is light, where the rain doesn’t dare to come. I tell him of places away from Forge, past the Teeth. I tell him of his dreams that haven’t visited him. I tell him terrible things too, of nightmares that have plagued him, horrors he can’t hide from. I whisper words that make him cry, his tears lost in the rain. I dismiss his fears and comfort his injuries. I assure him of his choices and regrets. When he is ready, I ask him once more what he wants. He tells me. I smile sadly as his head is raised to the closed sky. The rain which has soaked him to the bone pummels his fragile body. I let go of his hand and jump down from the railing. I fish through my coat until I find my bottle. I take a drink as I walk away from the empty ledge. I pull my coat closer and wonder where I’m headed as the night continues.