That I am alone now is not important. At least, this is what I tell myself. Because the city, you must understand, speaks.
I had a body like that, once, it says. Before time etched this map on my skin.
Your hands grip its bricks, its construction sites, the work of man on his surroundings. You want to be like the birds you find huddled in the eaves. The impermanence, the living tension that comes with having no real home.
From here on the roof the city appears graced, a world revealed. The rain has passed, and the sky is a raft of colours — holy grey to the right, sheer pink in the middle of my line of sight, becoming turquoise and finally midnight blue to the left. The beauty of it is almost enough to take my mind off my breathing, doubled over as I am, sweat balling on my forehead. This is power. But then, that was quite a climb.
My throat is dry, my tongue salted. I have to sit down. As I do so, the muscles in my shaking legs contract. I can’t hold back a yelp. It is a pain, however, that is instantly forgotten. I stretch, rubbing to diffuse the feeling. On the horizon, the low sun is making its way down on the city, the shadows cast by the tallest buildings lengthening. I fight to get my breathing under control, inhale steadily, with more resistance.
If you had a lover, children, people who care too deeply, then you would be forever thinking twice. But this is where I feel at home. In the alleys, on the ledges, the rooftops. The city is very old here. There is no hiding place. Here, the actors are jeered.
One time, I lost my footing. It was a long drop, and it was some time before I was found. But not tonight.
No. Tonight, I made it.