Porcelain

I am standing on the roof. I am seven storeys up. High enough to see the skyline of the greatest city in the world, from the Olympic site in the east over to Canary Wharf and as far as the Shard. I can see the things closer to home, the things on my doorstep. I can see your house. I can see your car. I can see you walking into the pub across the street. I can see Mr Patel dragging down the shutters of his off licence. I can see the pained expression on the face of the 107 bus driver. I can see the homeless men drinking cider by the war memorial.

I am standing on the roof. I am seven storeys up. High enough to be closer to heaven than you’ll ever be. High enough to witness the sky on fire on November 5th. High enough to taste the rain before you do. High enough that if I fall, the potential for survival is ruled out. High enough that if I fall, death is guaranteed. High enough.

I am standing on the roof. I am smoking a cigarette. I should be at work but I am too sad. I can see your house. Normally I try to stay away from the edge, just in case someone happens to look up and sees me and reports me. I am wearing your trousers. I walk towards the edge and the ends of your trousers dredge through yesterday’s puddles. I walk towards the edge. I rest my arms on the barrier that is not high enough to prevent someone climbing over it and jumping, but high enough so that you shouldn’t manage to fall over the side by accident. High enough. Before, one could slip underneath the barrier and plummet. When the police came here in July they noticed this and a few weeks later a man came and blocked up the gaps with metal grills. I have a screwdriver, I can remove these. But why bother when the barrier is high enough to climb over. High enough.

I am standing on the roof. My arms rest on the barrier, my head lolls and I am smoking a cigarette. I drop the cigarette butt over the edge and I watch it freefall through time and as it falls I lean over and over as if the crushed cigarette is dragging me down with Him. There is an energy dragging me further over the edge to the point where I am balancing on the tips of my toes and it feels like someone behind me is pushing me very slowly. A car horn blares and the upper half of my body dangles over the edge. Suddenly, I snap back. I realise that I did not stop myself from leaning so far, dangerously far. In a situation where most humans would be scared, I was not. I turn around and run down the fire escape, treading on the remains of pigeon carcasses, down down down and I am on the ground and I am alive. I look up, counting seven storeys until my eyes land on the roof where I was just standing. And I think, ‘High enough.’

I am standing on the roof. It is bitterly cold but the sun is bleeding profusely. I smile. An anticyclone. I walk across the roof, away from the city, closer to you. My feet are frozen. I am wearing the long black dress, you know which one. I am not wearing underwear but I am wearing my face. I walk to the edge, I climb over the barrier, I fall and it is beautiful. I am acutely aware that this is happening too quickly, that I wish I could fall slightly more slowly than I am, but never mind. I am weightless, a feather, a cigarette butt. The air swirls violently in my ears and my dress billows behind me and you can’t hurt me anymore. I am graceful, graceful, a perfectionist in life and in death. I land in the car park and I am impressed at the sound of my skull hitting the concrete. Just as my cheekbone is shattering like glass, I open my eyes and everything is silent and the world goes dark.

It is all of your faults. Mainly yours, but yours too. The ambulance arrives. The police arrive. The area is cordoned off. As you approach the building you wonder why the traffic has slowed down. You notice the flashing blue lights. You look up at the roof and see two policemen peering over. You know that it is me and suddenly everything is silent and your world goes dark. You jump out of your car and run to me. I am perfect and I am beautiful. You have never seen me look so beautiful. A broken doll, a broken porcelain doll, your corpse bride. It is not your fault. It is nobody’s fault. It is everybody’s fault. It is your fault.

I am standing on the roof. I am resting my arms on the barrier and I am smoking a cigarette. I can see your house. I can see your car. I can see you walking into the pub across the street. I laugh because I pity you. Just as you reach the door, you look up and notice me and I do absolutely nothing to acknowledge you. I throw my cigarette over the edge but I do not stay to watch it fall to the ground as I usually do, I do not lean over. I turn around and walk quickly across the terrace, away from you, closer to the greatest city in the world and I am inside the building and I am safe and I am alive.

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One thought on “Porcelain

  1. The repetition followed by elaboration draws the reader in, and my heartbeat actually accelerated with the clause, “the sun is bleeding profusely.” This propelled my reading on, and your finish was satisfying, with the focus on fault, but the repeating pronoun “I” in contrast, like a refrain. I am glad you are, once again, safe. I hope your personal insight is part of what keeps you safe. My sister, with the same diagnosis, refuses to have the insight you seem to have, and your ability to so clearly describe your experience helps you, as it helps others to see your experience. Painful to read, but very clear.

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