High Rise Love
Illustrated by Monica Johnson
I’m just going to come right out and say it: I hate my life. You may be thinking, at least I have a good view. And, yes, in the evening, when I look out to the west and see glimpses of the sunset peeking through the city skyline, I feel truly blessed. Most days it’s soft and hazy, yellow and blue, but sometimes the orange turns to red or fuchsia (is that how you say it–fuchsia?), and it takes my breath away, or it would if I had any.
I haven’t missed a sunset in seven years. But that isn’t enough to give life meaning. Especially when most of the time all I have to look at is a few nearby buildings, not the most interesting of views. The building across from mine is covered with mirrors, it doesn’t have any balconies like the one I live on. I know a lot about my building because it is reflected in the other. I know for example, that there are fifteen balconies below mine and only five above. I know that at night our whole building lights up like a giant chessboard, the black and white squares flickering on and off all night as the lights in the two buildings go on and off. The nights are actually also quite lovely here. But still, meaningless. The afternoons are miserable.
Most of the year I stand in blistering heat for hours on end with nobody to talk to. My legs are wobbling, my colors fading. And—here is the worst part—my true love is gone forever. I used to spend hours every day watching her as she sat on a lovely balcony two floors down, and one over. Her balcony was much nicer than mine. All I have is an old rug and a cinder block that my person rests his beer can on, while he rests himself on me. She had painted walls and potted plants and a wind chime that rang like the bells of heaven. She also had a little baby who would sit with her mother in the morning; they played a clapping game and the baby laughed. My person mostly talks on the phone, and doesn’t laugh much, although he does sometimes hum.
Normally he stays home on the weekend, but yesterday he left early in the morning, when he would normally still be sleeping. I thought maybe he was out visiting his mother or something, but then I looked down at her. The sun was coming up and the first rays of light landed on her pink legs and clean fabric cushion. I check on her a lot, you see, it calms me, makes me feel like my life may just have a purpose. And then I saw him: my person on her balcony. He helped the woman take down the wind chime, carry in the plants, and then, without a hint of ceremony, he carried her into the house. Now she is gone, and I have nothing left to live for.
I have been scooting closer and closer to the edge of the balcony ever since. I don’t know how I am going to do it, but I will find a way to throw myself off. The only place left for me is the street below. I will shatter, and the people in their loud, fast cars will crush me into the ground.