On the roof of our apartment building my son waited for his father to arrive so he could jump. Meanwhile I, the attending parent, persuaded the police chief not to upset, by storming the roof, what balance our child still clung to at the edge of a forty foot drop. Everyone wanted a show. Gawkers the patrolmen kept back on the pavement. Ladder trucks the fire chief held out of view. At such a height the boy was incongruous beaming against the placid sky in his badly stained t-shirt erratically pacing and suddenly very important. Not my arms, my voice, nothing could reach him. He wouldn’t see me. Has he been depressed? the negotiator asked me. It’s laundry day, I explained. They have it on tape. Talk to him, the police chief told me. Tell him you love him. Is that the right thing? I asked. The father arrived in a ridiculous car with a girl of course and talking into his phone. What the hell have you done? he asked me. The girl couldn’t stay in the car. She clung to his arm as if he needed steadying. A deputy peeled her away. Son! he called up; I’ve got you, son! There’s nothing to be afraid of! I saw my boy lean forward trusting at the edge of the world. Nothing to be afraid of! I saw his toes creep over. I can’t believe this was the plan. The girl came back and I slapped her hard, then tore into my husband with my nails and teeth and took him down before he could kill my boy. I didn’t know they had cops on the roof and one on the fire escape. I only know my baby cried out Dad! as he tilted and spun against the sky.

Copyright © January 17, 2009 David Hodges

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Boy on the Roof by davidbdale is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at davidbdale.wordpress.com.

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