Rooftop conversations

This is the first entirely original story I’ve posted. It developed from a scene I had in my head for years. It ended up differently from how I thought it would, but I’m not unhappy with it.


“You can’t make that shot,” One of them says. The words are dismissive and challenge in equal parts as the other person holds the can poised above their head as if it were a basketball.

“The hell I can’t,” he replies defiantly, rising to the obvious challenge, a sly grin curls the corners of his mouth. He makes an exaggerated show of concentrating, eliciting a laugh from the other one when he sticks his tongue out. “Kobe!” he shouts, tossing the can through the air. It plummets the long drop down between the buildings before bouncing off the side of the recycling bin at the bottom.

“Oh c’mon!” He cries out, falsely outraged at their failure. The other one bursts out laughing.

“Five years we’ve been coming up here,” she says, “and you still haven’t hit that shot once.”

“Do we have another can? This is my last chance.”  He looks around the rooftop futilely.

“Nope, that was the last one,” She responds. “You’ll have to come back and visit if you are so determined.” She starts playfully kicking their feet in the air over the edge of the roof. He turns back to face the same way, shielding their eyes. The sun is beginning to dip below the tops of the taller buildings on the horizon. The soft golden glow highlights the gaps between the buildings, carving out the silhouette of the skyline. They are both obviously comfortable here. They have spent countless hours here.

“How could I not come back to visit. Look at this view.”

“Yeah, probably the best sunset in the city.” A long, relaxed silence sets in. A comfortable silence, one shared by two people used to each other. Neither feels the need to break the silence unnecessarily. Both are happy, they celebrate and cherish their time together. But the moment grows somber the longer it stretches on. They are also mourning the ending for what it is.

“Jess really isn’t going with you?” she asks. She pulls out a cigarette. She fumbles around in her pockets looking for a lighter.

“Nope,” he replies. His tone is casual. She finds the lighter and cups her hand to light the cigarette. She looks over at him expectantly after taking a drag. He begins to elaborate. His tries to keep his tone flat.

“Said she couldn’t move so far away from her family. But I don’t think that’s the truth.” He pauses in between each sentence. His words come slowly and painfully. “Looking back now I think it was a long time coming. I just didn’t realize she was slowly pulling away for so long. I was too caught up in other things. I thought…” he trails off. “Well, it doesn’t matter what I thought now. I’m leaving. She’s staying.”

“Dude, you’re such a bummer sometimes,” she replies, laughing. “No wonder she left you.”

“You should have seen me before we met,” he says, grinning. “Anyway, what are you going to do without me to balance out your positively bubbly personality?”

“Eh,” she shrugs. “I’ll live. Will you? Without me?” She gives him a knowing look and a sly smile as she snuffs the finished butt on the roof and flicks it away to join the can down below. Some jokes can only be made between people who know each other too well, who have been through too much.

“Wow,” he replies, lengthening the word. But he laughs anyway. “So snarky and dark today. You’re really going to miss me, aren’t you?”

“No one else appreciates my brilliant sense of humor,” she says, flashing him a winsome smile. Another silence envelops them. They watch the sun disappear slowly behind the buildings. The lights of the city start glowing in the dimming sunlight.

He breaks the silence first. “I’ve always wished you could see the stars from the city. It’s one of the only things I dislike about cities.”

“I like to think of the lights as the city’s own stars. Gives the city a little bit of character. From places like up here, you can see the different shapes and constellations they make up like you would actual stars. But you can also go down among them, explore the lights in a more personal way than you could the sky.” She looks over at him. “You live up in your own head so much, you forget there are adventures down here in the real world too.”

He makes an amused, agreeing noise. “Look at you, getting all philosophical. You sounded like me for a second.”

“Yeah, picked it up like a bad habit. We spend too much time together.”

“You’re the one who kept dragging me up here all these years.”

“You needed it. And I made sure to drag you down every time, too.”

“Yeah.” He is quiet for a long time. “Thanks. For everything.”

“Yeah, of course.” Neither needs more than those few words. “Time we head down then? You need to pick up that can.”

“Sure.” They swing their feet back onto the roof, collect their things and leave the roof behind.

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