drama / romance

Half Broke And Fully In: Part III

Half Broke and Fully In Part Two by Josiah Crocker

T he air was cool from up here. The weather never got too cold around Christmas, but it was enough to remind you of the everchanging seasons. Six floors up with no real shelter simply reminded you a bit more assertively that the year was coming to a close and thoughts of making the most of it began their final swirls around the drain. Every year felt a bit like that. Like when I was kid and would stand in the shower until the hot water began running lukewarm and I knew I’d have to towel off soon and face whatever it was that sat on the other side of the locked bathroom door.

“I didn’t know you could come up here.”

She stared up at a cloudless sky and her eyes made tiny connections between stars. It was perfect conditions.

“Careful.”

I pointed out the maze of bird poop her feet were dancing between. She hopscotched through the minefield towards me until we were face to face. I could count the trees in her eyes from here. Could she count the twigs in mine?

“You’ve got your shits wrong.”

Her breath warmed my face and smelled like a bakery before the sun had come up.

“Hm?”

“These are bird shits,” she said, splaying her arms out around her. “And they might be lovely bird shits, I really can’t tell to be honest. But I can tell you that dog shits, these are not.”

A smirk from me. A raised eyebrow from her.

“Over here.”

I placed my hand on her arm and she obliged. We walked over to the edge of the roof. The only thing that kept us both from careening over was a two feet high ledge with a flat concrete top to sit on for the brave ones.

“Take a look.”

I motioned over the side of the building. She glanced tentatively towards the edge and mustered a small shuffle step, craning her neck to see from as far from the edge as she could.

“Closer.”

She strained a bit more then looked back at me. Unnerved.

“Are you afraid of heights? I should have asked, I’m sorry-”

“-I’m fine with heights. It’s just. I’ve only now realized I’ve followed a complete stranger up to the roof of my apartment building and he’s telling me to stand as close to the edge as possible.”

“I’m holding your arm,” I reminded her.

“You could let go.”

“I don’t plan on ever doing that.”

Our eyes met. She slowly nodded.

“You first.”

I laughed and pulled her back to a steady position before swinging a leg over the ledge and plopping down on it the way an iron worker would before digging into his lunch. I offered her my hand again and she joined me.

“Holy shit.”

The ground below us was dark and surly from up here. Despite the moonlight and various street lamps that bled over into the building yard below, it was devoid of light. The grimness of the city and all of its sins seeping into the soil had turned the clay black like obsidian. But from the stony ground there shone gold.

You remember those gold flakes I told you about? Well, sometimes the resident dogs would eat it off the hallway floors and dump it outside a day later in a glittering clump of brown and gold. Up close it stank to high hell, but from up on the rooftop and with the moon at the right angle it damn near sparkled like the night sky.

“You weren’t kidding,” she said. The sense of awe in her voice, however misplaced, was unmistakable.

“It always reminds me of this place. This town. The sheer amount of people chasing their dreams; subjecting themselves to some of the worst shit just to strike gold. And when they finally do, it’s not even real. It’s just an illusion. Eventually, all roads lead to them packing their bags and heading back home hoping a forced smile and fake tan will hide their own shame.”

“Is that what you think of people like me?”

She broke off, the space between us wider than before.

“No – no that’s.”

“I’m just some sucker trying to get famous?”

“No. I didn’t mean it like that. I’m sorry.”

She crossed her arms and stared at me through surly eyes.

“I’ve seen a lot of fool’s gold in my day. That’s not you.”

“Then what am I?”

I thought for a moment despite already knowing my answer. I’d known it the second I heard her and confirmed it the moment I laid eyes on her. She wasn’t some Jane Doe dipped in pyrite. She was-

“Whatever you want to be.”

She seemed to accept that answer for now. Her arms uncrossed but I knew I’d taken a step or two back in her eyes.

“What is that anyway?” I asked.

She stared off into the space below, her eyes connecting new constellations spotted with gold before finally saying:
“I just want to be happy.”

She turned to look at me, lips pulled tight and nodded, reassuring both of us of her answer.

Most nights went the same for the first little while. Strum. Sing. Heckle. Stars. Repeat. She’d entice me with her latest slice of baked heaven as if it was the sugar, butter and flour that got me up there. I’d find out later it had nothing to do with me at all. Whatever the reason, Jerry sure didn’t mind. He’d wake up most mornings to a plastic wrapped treat somewhere in his vicinity and gobble it down before heading out for the day. He’d hit the end of the alley, look back up in our general direction and shout, “I’ll see you at the show later!” before scampering off to do, well, whatever it is that Jerry does. Nobody really knew. I’d only ever seen Jerry outside of our block once. It just so happened the day I did was also the day I met Dom.

 

TO BE CONTINUED…

READ PART FOUR
START FROM THE BEGINNING

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AUTHOR

Josiah Crocker