A short story that I wrote and sent to Nathan Bissette and Joshua Brook-Lawson who responded with some music. This conversation led to the Fall photographic series.Fall by conversation
She washed her bowl and spoon and a glass and small mug in the warm soapy water, measuring the time by the low morning sun that she could see just above the neighborhood roofline. The lace curtain slipped across the window and cast a dappled shadow. She left it there, trying to sense the warm circles of light on her skin. On the table was a vase with several fresh cut roses, that had opened wide in the light. She made another coffee in the just washed mug and sat at the table, watching the flowers and drinking slowly. A cat padded lazily past, in the hallway. Her coffee turned cold. She was dressed in a light summer dress and pumps. Her clear eyes saw only the shapes in the light. She took the flowers from the vase and placed them in the sink. As she'd seen her mother do, she soaked some kitchen towel and wrapped it around the stems. Then she tore some foil and wrapped that around the damp towel. She left the apartment with her small bouquet resting carefully in a satchel she wore over one shoulder. She took the subway, heading west and into the city. The subway passed under the river. She used to walk the bridge every time, choosing to use the subway only after making the crossing. He had always teased her about this, but she had never relented. Now, though, she sat still and with the edge of a smile, on the quiet mid-morning train. After a time she exited the subway and her body seemed to walk itself through the downtown office blocks. Wide open sidewalks and the constant yellow taxis. She looked up at the sky, searching it's deep blue and trying to measure the subtle tonal differences. She'd name these blues too; chalk, summer, zoo, prisoner. She smiled. She walked down the entrance ramp of an underground car park. She thought now, how she could just go through the front, through the main lobby, but she feels bad for the way the young receptionist smiles politely at her. The silent look one of them might dart their senior and it's soft nodded response. From his office the attendant saw her and walked to meet her. She smiled gratefully at him, but didn't say anything as they walked together to an elevator. As they climbed to the highest floor he told her about his family and how his kids were and how one was going to college in the fall and don't they grow up fast. She exited the elevator and he gave her a key. She thanked him and he waited just outside the elevator doors. She went on, up several flights of stairs, gripping the cold iron handrail. At the top was a small door which she opened with the key. She stepped out on to the roof. A perfect square of smooth dusty concrete with a low wall around the perimeter. The sun was high now and her shadow small. She removed the flowers from her bag and walked slowly to the edge before her. She gazed at the redbrick building and the one she called beetle-bronze across the street. The redbrick one ended several floors below the one on which she stood, whilst the beetle-bronze one soared a little higher. The air was cold. She placed the flowers at the base of the wall. Next to them was a similarly wrapped bunch but all dried and brown. She picked these up and placed them as carefully as she had the fresh ones, into her bag.
He stepped. And then there was nothing. Or rather, there was everything. But that was it. It was happening now. He tumbled straight into a backwards somersault. His eyes, as he stepped, had been closed, but now, as he felt his feet floating high and weightless, they opened again and he saw briefly his glittering reflection, pouring like liquid. He thought how clean the windows were, and wouldn't it be just his luck to land on one of those cleaning platforms. But no, he had checked all that. He'd even dropped a few coins like he'd seen people do in movies. His hair swept against his neck. He felt the chill of his body pounding the air. His shoulders rolled back, maybe pulled by his flailing jacket. It made a loud snapping like a leather belt, or a great sail. But it was just him. His body righted itself. A falling, standing man. Before him he could see the windows of the buildings opposite, passing slowly, measurably. One was redbrick and the other a seeming bronze and both turned towards purple and gold in the late sun. Behind some of the windows lights were already on, and at those the reflection of the building behind him was broken, and he supposed there must be some trace of his flight too, a shadow like a plastic bag, somewhere across there. Beyond these buildings, between them, he could see the city extend for several blocks. The cars still looked like yellow bugs. He wanted to smile, but the air pushed his cheeks too high. His eyes streamed warm tears, but he wasn't crying or sad, that too was the air. His right hand swept backwards and seemed almost to graze the smooth, sun-warmed glass. A corner of his shirt untucked. His tie, he noticed, was high, like a noose. He thought he saw two birds floating effortlessly from their perch on the bronze building frame, falling parallel to him, before flapping their wings together and turning black as they swooped high and across the open space of the street and in front of that great golden light. Light that passed from building to building as if it was searching for just this moment, or just one person. Everything was much darker now. He supposed he had fallen past the reach of the light and then, nothing at all.