The ridged steps of the ladder are hard on my bare feet. One … two … three … I count absent mindedly as I climb, my fingers curling securely around the final, highest step, my feet three and four behind. My arm lifts, and my fingers curl tightly around the ledge of the manhole. The top of the ladder is cold as my feet rest upon it. They are steady; practiced, learned and ready. My arms are strong as I pull myself up. The decaying wood of the ledge is rough beneath my palms, sharp against my heels. I am sitting, staring forward into the dark abyss. Below me, the ground is far, partially obscured by the ladder. My breath is the only sound, filling my ears, instantly bringing calm. I am silent as I crouch, unable to fully stand in the confined space. It is time to move.
With small, cautious steps, I go from one solid wooden beam to the next, my nose filling with the achingly familiar scent; the heady, suffocating smell of dust, wood and wool. The insulation is soft against my fingertips as my nimble hands brush against it, unable to avoid the mass of wool spilling onto the planks. The vertical beams are strong, unyielding beneath my hands. I reach it. The place I can stand; the tallest section. My hair brushes the rough underside of the brittle tiles, and I revel in the sweetly muffled nothingness that is this strangely comforting place.
Faint, glowing sunlight glows through the cracks in the cement slats, sending shafts of golden illumination through the empty space. Dust floats in shimmering waves, lit by the molten rays. Spider webs, devoid of occupants, hang limply in the shadows, occasionally glinting in the sparse light.
This void has no life, no inhabitants. It is empty of all but dust, wood and dirty wool. The spiders which once crawled in the corners and created homes are now gone, having died or moved on. The rodents, once able to be heard, have dispersed, having run out of things to eat. Now this is a world of nothing. Nothing survives for long in this place. Nothing lives. Nothing grows. Nothing stays.
I sit. There is no noise, save for my quiet breathing, and the dull pound of my exercised heart. The beams creak sometimes, but today they are silent; peaceful. I shift, and then stay, unmoving, the soft feel of insulation on the back of my out-stretched legs, like a blanket or grass. My elbows come to rest on the beams as I lean backwards. Always I am careful, knowing that the fragile, unsteady ground beneath me will not ~ and cannot ~ bear my weight. I use the beams. They will support me, silently holding me, bearing me with no complaint.
This is serenity. This is calm. This is peace. This is the roof.
This is like my other story Broken Silence, only it is about my favourite place on earth; the roof. In some places, it would be considered an attic, but in an attic, you can walk freely without fear of falling through into the lounge room or such. The roof I speak of is the uninhabited section between the ceiling we look up at, and the tiles the birds look down at. Just to clear that up :)