I suppose it could be called ‘scenery’ – the necessary requisites to the play of existing. I stand on the roof of the department store, staring out over the buildings. The roof is a strange thing, not like the pointed unscalable peaks of childhood cartoons. It is an expanse of twisted metal and gaping vents, strange, many-bladed fans clogged with indeterminate dirt and bird shit. The strands of light dance in the puddles which litter the landscape, catching the bulbous bursts of petroleum like forgotten faces.
The air seems to have a thickness to it, like those first crackling breaths when moving out of sleep. People think that Is where I am, in sleep, the thought may turn over slowly, in the mind of my mother, that I am her daughter lying, as if by appointment, in bed between the hours of midnight and 7 am.
This is the sad rebellion of attempting to be alive in the city before the anticipated sunrise.
The roofs of the other high-rises lie at similar levels, as if littered around. A deflated balloon, shrivelling like an over-worked organ, snags on the corner of a nearby ventilation tunnel. All these holes and shafts and workings – typically unaccustomed to the eye. Yet all roofs were stood upon at some point – that is how they were built.
Built on mispayment and sweat and indecency. This is the roof where the man made the customary checks to the concrete, awaiting for the set numerals but really thinking about his screaming wife and clingy, paranoid children. The nearest fan continued, oblivious; unfeeling even to the memory of how the engineers hand had pressed down on the plastic all those years ago, a press as he thought of music, and isolation, and sex.
This is the landscape we attempt to forget.
We prefer to see puddles and patterns, and thing we call ‘litter’, decorating under our own feet – as if domesticating it. Here it is haunted and reckless, cast-away newspapers thrashing themselves in the wind. I wonder if the people down on the places we call ‘streets’ feel this crawling, nauseous sense of ‘cold’. The first bodies are beginning to move in their expected public directions, shuttling along the lines of pavement like a black push of type. We like order like that don’t we? People would like me not to look from roof to street, but from kerb to road.
But the danger is still here, the danger is still me.
For there are others who attempt to occupy this waste of space, I know that. It is here I will remain, here until I am ground back down to the full stop of the doctors. I will be handed a diagnosis which stops the ‘waste of space’; and makes me ‘troubled’ ‘afflicted’. My personality is guilty of torture. It is guilty of thinking.
I think how awful morning looks. The roofs of the high-rises are happy to divulge that. and yet there are routes onto all of them. Whether a ventilation system or fire escape, ladder or set steps – there are ways. Ways designed and made by human hands, yet shied away from, only used in the cases of ‘exception’ – emergency, malfunction – this -
These forgotten spaces telling of what we really are.