On the roof it is quiet. There is noise but it is distant, it is continuous, it is a sign that even at this height life somewhere is still being maintained. Far below the city can barely contain the sprawl of the tumultuous population in that urban wilderness, self contained and automated and evolving ever still. Far-removed from the microcosm of the roof, existing separately on the periphery of that which is built, the obsession with height, to defy laws and gods. And above, that which is beyond the ambitions of man.
To the north the mirage of a cityscape threatens to materialise. It shimmers through the pale and painted haze and on such a day its authenticity becomes difficult to gauge. The glint of windows too distant to look into but which would reveal: daytime television, afternoon trysts between extramarital lovers, the preparation and subsequent devouring of food and drink, energy and time.
Wayward rusting antennas lean and stretching to call out to whoever would listen. Or to recapture what was lost. An attempt to stay relevant in a changing landscape, fast becoming relics of a bygone era. Air conditioning units reverberate through the roofing slabs, panting fast and heavy like a mechanical respiratory system. More clutter is collecting on the roof from unknown sources and no one is ever caught depositing it but it is a combined effort from those below, it must be. Plastic bags and wooden pallets and food waste and rotting carcasses of dead birds and a pair of shattered binoculars and a deck chair with vile staining and an old tumble drier and an office desk and once even a shopping trolley.
This afternoon a man is present. Recognisable as one of the tenants on the twelfth floor. A desperate man, having lost his job two weeks ago and living in darkness for he is unable to pay his electrical bills. If the circumstances have not changed within ten more days he will be on the streets, but he sees now as he stares down at those very streets that they are not so bad. Standing there near the edge, smoking, taking one last prolonged drag on his cigarette in a desperate bid for endorphins.
Birds soar and occasionally perch on the top of the building but do not stay long, flying off in search of somewhere more desirable. No doubt sensing the dried corpses and loose feathers of their brothers and sisters and the inhospitable atmosphere at this height and on this roof.
© Nicholas J. Parr, 2015