“Braving the Rooftop Dread”
The memory still felt cold, I shivered more than I did when I exactly almost did it. I don’t know how much longer will it stay like this; whenever this night comes, I die inside. I made my own curse, I took the chance to live only to bring a ghost, an ill presence that would always poke me and remind me of something I should’ve just done but never should’ve thought of doing. So here I am now, battling the possibility that I might do it again.
There are things in life we swear we will never allow ourselves to succumb to ever again but because we are born capable of anything, the bad gets a slot too, and unfortunately because of weakness we are tempted to choose the quickest way to spare ourselves from pain although it’s against the godly laws of life.
Part of me cannot forgive myself for feeling so hopeless because I should’ve realized I was stronger than that, but in retrospect, I was this poor in spirit. I grew up being so sensitive, I always wished I was like any other boys my age who already knew how to control their vulnerability while being young. I am not sure why I’m like this since I wasn’t even raised as a mollycoddle, but I can recall that I was allowed to cry whenever I got hurt. My mom used to say that it is important for a man to embrace his feminine side and maybe I took advantage of mine or maybe I hadn’t figure out how to balance everything.
Although I believe that I am in a better place now, feeling great more than ever, I still go to this same place. This rooftop for my isolation that I tried to occupy for my meditation but couldn’t quite succeed because things remained disturbing.
I sat on this spot here beside the roof lantern and stared at my younger self four years ago,standing at the edge of this building’s roof, crying without a voice and entirely frail. If I can see him now for real, I would run into him and haul him backwards for a punch.
I closed my eyes because I hated it, I can eternally abhor this place but I knew I also hated avoidance. I couldn’t stand not surviving a trauma so I had to repeatedly bring myself here until this place will heal. We can never run away, eventually we can only face our dark memories, they’re these branches attached to us. I’ve been trying to work on seeing this place without these sharp teeth biting my heart. I’ve been praying I could one day come here and exhale. I just want to close the doors of hell here.
I opened my eyes, my brows knitted in surprise that someone was around. I would’ve laughed at the frivolous spookiness for the inappropriate timing, and I was too old for this Halloween trick. If only this person realized I was already having my own terror here. I just wondered how this roof became accessible, I had never seen anyone in the last years I’ve been here.
“I’m too old for this shit!” I blurted out, peeved but tried not to be utterly unkind. It stopped.
“Is that what you’re wearing tonight? Grumpiness. You should’ve elaborated it well through a real costume. I’m thinking, perhaps that Anger fella from ‘Inside Out’. Though I hope you’re not as angry at the moment.”
I was taken aback as I recognized the sarcasm of a voice approaching me,when she finally stood in front of me. I smiled and slightly laughed at her cute costume, a grey and furry wolf onesie with her face exposed. “Why wolf?”
“I love wolves. My spirit animal.” She admitted with coyness.
“Why not a female werewolf then? I believe you can do the make up.”
“Not in the mood to do that, I like this. Comfy and warm, besides I’m a little sick tonight.” She talked as she managed to sit down.
I was disbelieving that she found this place, I never told anyone about this part of my life but I couldn’t deny the gladness that of all the ones I trusted, she’s the one who made her way finding me here, right when I was at my lowest point again. Maybe I needed help. “How did you get here? I thought abandoned buildings scare you.”
“Isn’t it Halloween?” She bragged, I was not sure though if she meant she took the risk to dare.
“Were you losing your mind?”
“Well, I realized abandoned buildings are like empty people. They only look scary because they look dark brought by their loneliness but they actually need company and maybe an understanding and appreciation, so like we’re here in this place now, it doesn’t seem so scary anymore.”
The way she deeply looked at things was one of the reasons she made me want to have her all the time.
“But to be honest, I kinda followed you.” She bit her lip and hid her face.
“You’re my stalker now?” I chuckled.
“I was just worrying because you’re missing. I wanted to see what you wore tonight but I couldn’t find you anywhere. I was curious what you were up to.”
“So you now see what I’m wearing tonight.”
“Yeah,” She evaluated me. ” A black jacket with a white shirt under,a ragged pants and sneakers and sadness. Apparently you’re wearing yourself.”
I laughed at her frankness. “Thank you for the details.”
“Apologies for my honesty.”
And then a cold wind rushed past us, and while I didn’t know what to say next, she also lingered silently. Until I decided to confess. “Can I tell…”
“How often do…” She paused and looked at me,noticing the clash of our words. We both laughed.
“It’s okay. Go on.”
“No it’s okay. Go on.”
“No, ladies are always first.”
“Okay Mr. Chilvary. I was asking how often do you visit this place.”
For a while,I deliberated my response. I asked myself if I was prepared for this but I remembered how she never failed to make me feel understood and less alone.
“Not that I am acting as if I’m a girlfriend who should know everything about what you do and where you go,I’m just wondering and same as last year’s Halloween night, you’re missing. Is this where you celebrate Halloween?” She joked.
“Can I tell you a secret?” I whispered.
“Did you kill someone here?”
She gasped with real horror in her eyes, but what did she exactly think about?
She froze and stared at me with a blank expression. I was thinking that if she did run away, I’d laugh but when she didn’t and moved closer to expect a story from me,I was amazed how much she trusted me.
“Actually, not someone else.” I began.
“Oh. Okay then?”
“Got a clue?”
“Clue?” She mused and when she gasped again, I understood she knew what happened since I once did told her I tried to take away my life but I didn’t tell her how bad the memory felt each time.
“Is this where it happened?” She asked,and my heart started to break hearing the sound of empathy in her voice.
“Four years ago. It was a Halloween night, indeed a Halloween night feeling that dread. I drank a lot early that day,I was such a huge mess that time, worst if your enemy’s your own self. While everyone was getting hyped at the party, I left and walked down the road and stumbled upon this place. Right there.” I pointed the spot where my younger self stood up as I can see in my vision again.
She sighed and hugged herself. “I won’t ask why you did it because I do not want you to bring back whatever it was that killed you but I wanna know what made you stop.”
I pondered and smiled. “Fear of heights.”
She laughed, and I did too when I realized how stupid that was.
“But I swear fear of heights, and of course I thought of my mom. My family, people I cared about, myself above all. I knew I had a lot of things ahead, waiting for me.” As I said the last thing, I looked at her and considered that she must be one of those things ahead, waiting for me.
“That’s how we get our real Halloween, we live with those fears. We fight those ghosts that become stronger than us most of the time”
“Yeah. I try to let go of my phobia seeing this place, I don’t want this curse I made.”
“I understand, maybe it’s a good thing I followed you here. Maybe-just maybe- having a friend while you recall that terrifying memory can help you get through the fear. I think we’re afraid because we think we’re alone as we face our demons. Don’t we feel strong with a little encouragement?” She nudged me and gave an encouraging smile.
“Exactly,” I watched her turning her head into the sky still smiling. ” Is there something that scares you too?”
She breathed in and audibly sighed. “Of course,lots of things but there’s just one thing I DON’T want to happen the most before I die and that is NOT being able to love enough.”
I admired her sincerity, and slowly I felt like everything at the moment became about her, the face of my dire memory vanished in the view.
“So…I take it, you’re scared that you might do it again.”
“Yeah,or I think I am just really scared to lose myself again.” I didn’t stop looking at her. “So,uhm,even if I don’t get to see you all the time, I hope you will always stay where I can feel you.”
She met my eyes, unable to speak. I smiled at her and even when I looked at the edge of the roof again, I still smiled not knowing how to stop it.
“I told you,I followed you,right?” I heard her confident and sweet voice again.
I reached for her hand and held it. I swear after this night,I will find it hard to believe that this dreadful rooftop had created a beautiful memory.