“That was my story, but I wanted a different one,” She finished. From here, I could smell her, the honey-thick scent of her skin and soap. She wouldn’t meet my eyes, but I supposed I understood that. It’s hard to tell the truth, even harder to tell all of it. She pushed her hair out of her eyes, her violet locks tangling with each gust of wind.
I swallowed. It was difficult— the air was thinner up here, pressing at my lungs. I kicked my legs against the lip of the building, considering an answer. “So, what are you going to do now?” I asked, handing her a hair-tie.
She looped her hair into a bun atop her hair and chewed on her lower lip. “I don’t know. I want to do anything, everything, something. I feel like I’m finally free, you know? Like I’m my own person. I could conquer the world. Or, more likely, get a job— you know what I mean. The world is my oyster, etc.,” She looked sad now, eyebrows drawing together. “I just don’t know if I deserve it.”
“You do,” I stated, resolute. “We all have done bad things, things we aren’t proud of. That doesn’t make us bad people,” On the ground, thousands of feet below, I heard a car alarm sound. It sounded disturbing quiet from here, almost like a lone cicada. “This is how I see it: every day we wake up and we decide, ‘I’m going to live today. I’m going to go to work or school or wherever, I’m going to eat my meals and speak when spoken to, I’m going to come home and go to sleep, and wake up and do it all over again.’”
I could see she was listening now— her eyes changed when she did, her pupils went soft and shiny behind her wire glasses.
“But we don’t have to. We do, we go about our day like usual, but that doesn’t mean we have to. You know, you could just as easily think, ‘I’m not going to leave this office chair and I’m going to consume only sardines and kombucha for the rest of my days’. And it wouldn’t matter that you’d never done that before, that it isn’t the norm— you could do it anyway. It doesn’t matter what your story was, it matters what it is.” I finished.
“I’ve never thought about it like that,” She said. A strand of her hair escaped from the confines of her bun, and flapped like a flag in the wind.
“Maybe you should,” I replied. “It’s a lot nicer.”
Like a map below us, the city was stretched out, sparkling. I traced the constellations of neon lights, lonely people walking down crowded streets, cars ignoring limitations on the breadth of night. The sky seemed dull in comparison, overshadowed by the shine of the city.
“Why are we up here?” She asked. Here meant highest level of a parking structure smack-dab in the beating heart of the city, the one that scraped the sky raw. Here meant sitting on the edge of the building, a single shift in the wrong direction that could have us careening off the edge.
“This one is my story,” I grinned, standing now. I balanced on the lip, in my element, at home. I pretended I was a bird, sometimes. Nesting up here, ready to take to the sky, shake out my ligaments at a moment’s notice.
She looked a little frightened, but she shouldn’t have been— I wouldn’t fall if I didn’t want to. “Everything in my life, everything important has happened here,” I breath in and my bones sing. “I have my own power up here,” My arms raise of my own volition and I feel like I am flying. “I could crush everything, everyone if I wanted to.”
“Sometimes you scare me,” She noted, voice even.
I bare my teeth in a smile, “Good. I should.”
“I used to bad, and now I want to be good,” She muttered, considering. “And you used to be good, but now you want to be bad.”
“Oh, don’t oversimplify it. I don’t want to be bad, I just want to be different,” I danced upon the lip of the building, feather-light. “It’s wonderful, isn’t it? We can rewrite our stories whenever we want to.”
“But isn’t it… daunting? I don’t know who to be if I’m not who I was.”
“Of course it is, but that’s the fun of it. You can be whomever you want. Forge your own path and all,” I mused. “Being human means being infinitely changeable. It means things will change you— experiences, people— but also that you can change you. And we both want to change ourselves. I don’t think that there is anything wrong with that.”
“I suppose you’re right,” She consented. She rose to stand beside me, and I pulled the hair tie from her hair. Violet stranded whipped about and I could smell her again. Honey.
“I suppose I am.”
She peered across the grid of downtown spread out below us like she was searching for something, something volatile and ever-changing. I watched her. Her eyelashes were so long that they swept her cheekbones.
“Are you ready?” Her voice was quiet.
I took her hand. “Always.”
Together, we took our leap of faith.