I am standing on the roof. I am smoking a cigarette. I should be at work but I am too sad. I can see your house. I don’t live there anymore. I am wearing your sweatpants and I am very tired. I walk towards the edge and the ends of your trousers dredge quietly through yesterday’s puddles. I rest my arms on the barrier that is not high enough to prevent someone from climbing over it and jumping, but just high enough to prevent someone falling over the side by accident. High enough.
I am standing on the roof. I am smoking another cigarette. I am thinking about everything and nothing, all at once. I think my brain is broken. I drop the cigarette butt over the edge and I watch it free fall through ideas of time and space and memory, and as it falls I lean over and over, as if the butt is dragging me down with it. A peculiar energy is dragging me further over the edge to the point where I am on the tips of my toes, my upper body hanging precariously, over and over. Somebody behind me is pushing me very slowly and the wind is picking up. The cigarette butt lands on the ground, a car horn blares and suddenly I snap back.
I turn around and run down the fire escape, treading on the sharp remains of pigeon carcasses and mushy dead leaves, down down down, and then I am on the ground and I am alive. I look up, counting seven storeys until my eyes land on the roof where I was just standing. The cigarette butt is by my feet, smouldering. I look up and I think, “High enough.”
I am standing on the roof. It is bitterly cold and the sun is bleeding profusely. A perfect anticyclone. I smile. I walk across the roof. My bare feet are frozen though my blood is hot. I am wearing a long black dress, you know which one. I am not wearing underwear but I am wearing my face. I walk to the edge and I climb over the barrier. I fall and it is beautiful.
I am acutely aware that this is happening too quickly, that I wish I could fall slightly slower than I am, but never mind. I am weightless, a feather, a cigarette butt. The air swirls violently in my ears and it is the nicest song I’ve ever heard. My dress billows behind me like useless wings, and I am graceful and safe and you can’t hurt me anymore. I land in the car park and I am impressed by the sound of my skull hitting the concrete. My legs snap like twigs underfoot, exactly like he said they would. Just as my cheekbone is shattering, I open my eyes and everything is silent and the world goes dark.
The ambulance arrives. The police arrive. The area is cordoned off. A crowd gathers. As you approach the building you wonder why the traffic has slowed down. You notice the blue lights flashing outside my building. You look up at the roof and see three policemen peering over the edge. You know that it is me and suddenly everything is silent and your world goes dark.
You jump out of your car and run to me. I am perfect and I am beautiful. In fact, you have never seen me look so beautiful. It is not your fault. It is nobody’s fault. “I never thought she’d actually do it.” It is everybody’s fault. It is nobody’s fault. It is your fault alone.
Or perhaps your world does not go dark. Perhaps you take a different route that day. Perhaps you hear about it on the news. Perhaps your world will keep on turning, whether I’m in it or not. Perhaps. But perhaps not.
I am standing on the roof. I am resting my arms on the barrier and I am smoking a cigarette. I can see your house. I don’t live there anymore. I see your car pull up across the street below. I see you walk towards the pub. As you reach the door, you look up to the roof and notice me. I do nothing to acknowledge you. I throw my cigarette over the edge; I do not lean over, I do not watch it fall. I turn around and walk quickly across the terrace, away from you, towards the future, and I am inside the building and I am safe and I am alive and you can’t hurt me anymore…
Originally published by Variant Literature here.