On the Roof

Written by James McCann


I can see the whole city from up here. Well, what’s left of it.

The riots started about a week ago; over what exactly, I can’t quite remember. It might have been a race thing, maybe a political thing. It was probably the price of petrol being raised, or a sports result. Something insignificant like that.

It was my idea to come up here, sit on the roof. A green blanket on the shingles, lay it down, and if anyone comes too close to the house with a look of looting in his eye, then blam! Unload the chamber of my shotgun.

Mel’s asleep next to me, curling up into my side, still clinging to my left arm wrapped around her shoulders. She handled the whole thing pretty well: no crying, no panicking, or any of the stuff that women always seem to do in films when there’s a crisis . She’s sleeping peacefully, her long black, curly hair falling down in tussles across her face. Her small delicate features cast tiny shadows over her. It’s a full moon and everywhere is lit up. She keeps burying her head into my chest, her eyelids too thin to keep out the light. At the very least no looters will be sneaking up on the house tonight.

I’m reminded, looking at her, of the first night I spent with her mother, Katie. We were on a company team-building trip into the woods and we got talking to each other by the lake. We inevitably got separated from the rest of the group. I’d rather have spent the entire weekend with Katie.  As it got dark, I made a small campsite and we huddled up for the night. It sounds corny, I know, but I wanted to stay like that, holding her, forever.

The most startling thing was when she woke up. Massive chestnut brown eyes looked up at me, like a very attractive rabbit caught in headlights. We made idle small-talk getting up before we finally worked up the nerve to kiss each other. We’ve been together ever since that weekend in the woods six years ago. My four-year-old Mel is the prize I won for giving my life to Katie.  She’s the spitting image of her mother.

Since that time, neither of us really made any progress at work; always opting for weekend and evenings together instead of over-time in hopes of a promotion.

Just as well, now.

The building we worked at was one of the first to go. A huge concrete and steel framed smoke stack. By the time all this is over, this city will be nothing more than smoldering ashes.

Once the burning stops, I’ll put Mel and a few of our bags into the back of the jeep and drive. And I’ll keep on driving until I find Katie.

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