“Do you remember this roof?” the soft-spoken voice asked with a touch of sweet, elderly raspiness.
Dylan, confused, responded, “I have never been on this roof before.”
“Well, maybe not this particular one…but, don’t they all look the same after you came up thinking about what you were contemplating doing?”
The words were arrows, hot-tipped arrows piercing a memory so deep and so long-forgotten, Dylan’s bottom lip trembled ever so slightly.
He turned and faced the familiar stranger. “Do…do I know you? Have we met before? Because it seems you are hinting at things that I’ve never shared with anyone.”
“Not anyone at all?”
Dylan paused. “Not unless they knew my most deepest…and troubling thoughts.”
“Why were they troubling? You didn’t go through with it. Do they still trouble you?”
“No. I honestly haven’t thought those thoughts for quite some time.”
“Then why after all these years, do you finally return?”
Dylan didn’t say anything, but many thoughts circled, much like the birds of the fading daylight sky. “I suppose I needed reminded of something.”
“Care to share?”
Dylan inhaled slowly and spoke. “When I stood on that rooftop I could see my grandmother’s ranch…seemed like miles and miles away, but I think that was just me feeling far away from being more than I was. I purposely chose that roof because I wanted to last thing in my line of vision to be my grandmother’s ranch.” The socially-accountant who was now stringing together very personal words paused.
“Why her ranch? Was that the place that hurt you the most?”
“Actually, no. Well, not exactly. It was my home. My grandmother was all I had, but it’s where I thought mostly about her.”
The familiar stranger didn’t answer, but turned her focus from Dylan to the resting sun in the landscape behind him. Dylan, noticing this, turned as well.
The traffic below was barely audible. Somehow the winding down of the day spoke more loudly.
“What was it that you needed reminded of? You said that was the reason you were up here.”
“I needed to remind myself that I didn’t go through with the suicide.”
“I suppose that is a good thing?”
“I needed to remind myself that even though I didn’t jump off I still ended up dead.”
“How so?” Dylan found her voice hypnotic. The only thing missing was a couch and a notepad.
“Today I realized that I have done nothing significant with my life. The last few years have been of no relevancy. The fact that I am alive has made the exact same nonexistent impact on life around me as if I had leaped to my death. I have done nothing to prove to myself…and others that I’m more than what they see…more than what I see.”
“And you want to change that?”
Dylan’s answer was immediate. “Yes! For the first time I actually do. For the first time…just now…today…I don’t feel awake, but I feel like I’m waking up. There are still…thoughts…memories that are unclear, but I think this fog has finally started to lift.
“Why all of the sudden today? What was different about today?”
“I felt things I haven’t felt in a long, long time. I felt curious. I was thrown off course of my normal, hum-drum life and at first…I couldn’t handle it. I was beginning to implode.”
“And your course of the mundane was altered by…?
Dylan smiled and looked at the familiar stranger. “A cookie.” He proceeded to tell her all about the morning. He admitted to himself it felt good to not only talk about his day, but to have someone listen. Then he thought of Jill, but didn’t share that with the familiar stranger.
Intrigued, Dylan’s rooftop guest asked, “How do you get from devouring a cookie to the rooftop…not to mention the eight floors between here and there that you chose not to frequent in five years? I mean you explained the rooftop, but why only the 24th floor all these years? I just feel there’s something more than what you’ve told me. You shared with me a very personal memory about a rooftop, but what about all the floors between? Any memories with those?”
Dylan was silent. The living-in-the-now life was new. He had barely cracked the shell. His wings were just starting to strengthen as they pushed against the thin, white exterior.
“May I show you something?” The familiar stranger reached out her aged hands, her nails perfectly manicured.
The brilliant-minded, socially-awkward, mustached accountant noticed how deep and welcoming her eyes were. Not saying a word, he took her hand as they headed down the twelve steps that led to the 32nd floor.
The woman led him to a door and opened it for him. “Come in here with me,” she said. The hallway lights turned off behind him, but before he could turn to realize it, the woman was gone and Dylan was greeted by an overly friendly young lady from behind an over-sized counter.
Confused, the accountant rubbed his face as he so often did when presented with a conundrum. Something was different. He was no longer mustached.
Then not behind him, but rather right in front, a voice. “Hi, I’m Jill!”