When I was a kid, I always dreamt of standing on a skyscraper, to see what it was like up there, and to be as near to the stars as I could. That dream was something that only a kid could think of. A fruitful fruition filled with everything that a kid was fueled on. A fanciful fiction that when grown up, seems like a sad excuse to find meaning. Thinking of it like that made all the more sense than anything tangible. Standing upon this skyscraper now, and reaching my hand into the sky, only for the stars to escape my fingers, was the reality that I had landed upon. It’s a reality that I’ve come to appreciate for all of my youthful discretion. The top of this skyscraper was empty, and the stars were still too far for me to reach.
I bring my hand down, and trace the lines till they reach my wrist. The dark of the night made it difficult to trace exactly where each line went, but my eyes had long adjusted to this truth. I wondered at one point how long I should have stayed here. That thought became fleeting, just like any other. I sigh again and look down towards the bustling city that lay just below my feet. My feet dangling over the edge of the skyscraper made me seem like a nonchalant Little Mary. Such a thought was probably something fitting for what I was going to do, unadvised and unintelligible. The cold breeze of the night sprung across my face and I shut my eyes to feel its grasp around my neck. Despite how high I am, I imagine the sounds of the city below me, of the cars buzzing about and the small ant-like pedestrians just trying to move higher in the corporate ladder. Everything of the city made me churn in disgust. The green, the white, and the blue. All of that made me want to digress to a time much simpler, to a time where I did not know of what transpired across the world, of the endless miasma of misanthropy that clouded the largest corporations and the strongest people.
The breeze of the night decided to flow pass me again, and this time, it brought the smell of rancid garbage. I decide not to think much about it, but that didn’t last long as the source of the smell decided to strike a conversation. He was a man of some stature who at the time, I did not realize had took upon residence on the skyscraper.
“What brings you here? To end a life? To end a dream? To end your day?” The man’s voice is something akin to a teenager in the cloud. He spoke to me in such a rapid-dash manner that contrasted with everyone else of this world.
“What good would me telling you do?” I reply. The man jumps over to the edge of the skyscraper and begins treading along as if on a tightrope. He does so without hesitation and looks down to the city without a flinch. The man’s stench permeates all around him and he brings it with him the further he goes, but then it comes back when he turns and begins walking towards me. He is a man of little shame, I think to myself. Someone unabashed to his life.
“If you are here to end your life, then better not do it here. Do it somewhere else. Somewhere without me. Somewhere so that they don’t come.” He speaks while walking on the edge, and jumps down to inspect me closer. He eyes the black suit I wear and the clean brushed hair behind me. His stench begins to linger on me, and I make no movement to check his ragged clothes.
“Why should I do it somewhere else?” He detests the question. I could tell by the way he begins erratically shaking and squirming about on the spot. I force myself to look now, and hope to no-god that my life does not belong to him.
“Why? Why? Why? You ask me why? Why is it that we all ask questions? Why is it that you ask questions? Why is it that you won’t leave me?” He repeats those three words over and over. Why, why, why. Those words stick to my head and the only thing I can focus on is his maddening rambling. His entire body seems to rupture, but then he stops.
“This is where I live, if you kill yourself now then you’ll disturb me. Do you see now why? Why else do you think? They will come.”
“Who’s they?” The man breaks out into another fit. This time he begins clawing at his eyes in what I can only think as an attempt to mutilate himself.
“They. Day. They. What day is it that you bring yourself to take your life away on my roof? What day is it that you decide to hang yourself on the pinnacle of capitalistic greed? What day is that you have finally been consumed in the speed of the city?” His voice grows loud, much too loud, and yet despite how loud it is, it still does not faze me. His words and meaning seems to spin in the cold night air and yet that same cold night air brings it away.
“You said they. They will come.”
“Yes I am very aware of today. Today is the day which marks the day in which the day means November—“ He stops and scratches his head before continuing to spout, “Second. Year, meaning, twenty sixteen.” I see and hear his breathing fluctuating. I attribute it to the same scene where my mother had died of heat before. The whole spiel comes as nothing but pointless banter before I take my life. Boring garbage.
“The day in which, to say that the world had ended once and began again, the day in which, many call, D-Day, June six nineteen-ninety-four, the day when men see the power of their own creation, and the day when travesty happens. Do you know? What day do you want to know? What day will today be?” I decide to ignore his pointless premonitions, in all actuality, to ignore all of what he says will probably make me much happier despite the circumstance, but I decide to humor him in hopes of something likewise. Even I am as feeble as wanting something like that at a time like this. Feeble and pathetic. I can’t help it, I’m only human.
“Today will be the day where I plunge towards the city and splash red on everyone around me.”
“And if you do that, then they will come. They will come to arrest me. They will come to stop me from living here. They will come to silence the truth.”
“Who’s they? Is this they you speak of people you know? Are they people who know you but you do not know them? Or are they the people whom cover themselves in blue in hopes of putting power to the white that they exude?” In all actuality, I knew exactly what he had meant. Of course I knew, how could one not expect to know. But no matter how much I wanted him to leave, and no matter how much his pointless disposition seemed to me, I couldn’t bring myself to play that role. On that roof upon that skyscraper I had done something so incongruous as to reverse the hands of a clock, that much I know.
“You mock me. You mock me. You mock me, you all want to mock me and to put my words to shame, to make me irrelevant. You and them. Them and you. All of you are filled with so much greed.” The man stops convulsing. A small sense of brevity breathes air in the cold night as he scampers off to a place hidden to my eyes. I dare to turn around to see where he goes, to where his abode is upon this place of broken dreams. But even as I try to turn, I know with all my being that I can’t do so, and so I don’t. I await his arrival, for the next moment in which he will break my concentration, to pummel me with the want for ennui, to entice me into a state of bellicose, to stop me from turning transient.
“But those who mock me, come to mock me for petty reasons. Reasons that you and I know, that I and you know, that they and we know. Those reasons come in all kinds of things in this world. Those reasons make me sad. And I know those reasons make them sad, those sad blue things.” The man shoves a picture to my face, in which the danger of a single breath becomes ever so present. I slowly adjust my eyes to the sudden image and see that the picture contains a rather happy family, a nuclear family. The man in the picture brings to me a strange sense of déjà vu, and before being able to conceive the thought, the man chimes in, “My family, from a time long before this one, of course. My family, one of proportion, one of the dream in which your people seek, my people. My family, which is now long lost, and I the one who remains, looking over charred ash and for a petty reason, feels mocked.”
“How long ago did your family die?” He continues to dangle the picture in front of me, not giving way to the cold night air that seemingly now consists of rancid garbage, tears, and a petty mockery.
“Some time ago. Some time ago when things seemed okay. Some time ago when I did not become who I am, when I did not say to those who are colored the sky that the grass beneath them was not a toy of chaos. Some time ago when I was like you.” The man indulged in a way of speaking that I can describe with a gallant smile as benign to erudite poetry. Something akin to pure archaic rabble, but that in of itself was not something I dissuaded. Not then, not before, and still as I want to open my mouth to reply to a man who seemingly embodies a cloud.
“Did you love your family?”
“Love, the color most associated with red. Love is a strong word, do we really ever love something other than ourselves? Even you must love yourself as much as you love your family. And even you must love yourself more than you love me.”
“Do you still think about your family?” The man retracts the picture and moves back into that space to where I don’t belong, and can’t belong. He leaves me back to the state before, to the state in which I can freely imagine myself falling into the city, to the space where my dreams become shattered. Somehow, I begin to hate that state.
The man comes back soon enough with another one of his ornaments. This time it is of a drawing. He places it in front of me without caution and I adjust to the new image in front of me. It is a simple drawing, a landscape of sorts that is empty with all but a single tree. The sky above is cheery, filled with colors that blind my eyes. That blindness is soothing. The tree which encompasses the center piece and stands alone among an air of emptiness is drawn with colors that are drastically dark, dreary. It brings me great difficulty to see the tree for more than a few seconds before the brightness of the area around it becomes a painful reminder.
“A picture of my youth. A picture perhaps of your youth as well, of our youth, of their youth. A picture drawn in a room of my own. A picture drawn in a time where drawing is not considering a piece of contemporary society, no belonging.”
“Is it your favorite drawing?”
“It is the truest of forms of expression. To bring to light what one sees in a world where one chooses to un-see is something short of serendipity, surrealism. Nothing, not even science can come to even rivaling that expression of truth. And that same truth is something outlawed.”
“Were you once an artist? At the time where your family still lived?” For some reason, I thought he nodded. He brought the picture out of my face, and left to the place where I don’t belong. This time, this last time, he brings back something nothing like the others. He dangles in front of me a notepad. It is worn, much like the rest of his attire, and smells of the same rancid odor that pervades him. Found within the spine of the notebook is a pen. The man pushes the notebook in front of me, even closer to my face, to the point where I take it from his hands. He says, next, in the most surprising of all his words he has said to me that night.
“Before you kill yourself, would you mind writing your name in my records?” His words strung themselves within the night air. They wrapped themselves in the very fibre that made up the air, and in the smell of the air, I could smell the city. I could smell the green within the linen pockets. The night air lulls me into a sense of belonging, into a sense of familiarity. I obey his civil words.
“Thank you for your time, and goodbye, so is the curse of those like you.”
“You also subscribe to my state do you not?”
“If I said so before, it must be a lie. I am not of your kind. I am what makes your kind idiosyncratic.” The man leaves, for the final time, to the place where I don’t belong. He does not come back this time, and I get up from my seat on the skyscraper, and stand on the ledge like he had. I stare down into the city, imagine the sounds of the cars buzzing around, of the people just trying to reach higher in the corporate ladder, perhaps to reach the stars that are unreachable. And then the top of the skyscraper becomes empty.