Sun pulses from behind the lazy white bushes of sunset. Two girls, hands folded together, collect themselves at the top of the Michigan Central Railroad Station. Wind is cold here, damp and dark, cleansing but restrictive.
Their clothes have been browned by the effort of climbing staircases in fairy tales of disrepair, squeezing through bug bitten windows and denting their candy-cane skin with old glass. One holds the other, a little paler than she, by the falconer’s bones in her shoulder. They position themselves for sight-seeing.
They are salted and sleepy, possessing one another’s exhaustion in reverent glances, the held girl seated on her knees, the holder above her, disrupted by passing gusts of air.
Lin is restless about the sunset coming down, suspicious and uneasy, afraid of the nothing brought by night. Numb, colored grass and the same pixel reruns in the sky, she hates it. Her joints ache in their lack of purpose and her hair hums a low frustration down her back. She tugs the pale girl, Em, up from the ground, roof gravel scraping serenely into her bright open bones, scented arms colliding, thrown together, mouths and teeth touching each other.
“Look how far down,” Lin says.
“It’s a long way, yeah,” Em answers. She brushes her fingers on her shorts and tries to clean them of the day’s debris. As kings of the mountain, with territory conquered, they sway together and bite love notes on their dirty skin, then Lin kicks a fragment of glass over the edge. Silent, sweating love, side by side they watch it fall, a whistle, then a golden gush of receded sun, too far away to leave them with an echo when it hits something soft below.
“I wish I could be on the ground and watch you all the way up here,” Lin laments, smiling.
“You wouldn’t even be able to see me.”
“I’d be able to see you.”
Em puts her hair behind a shoulder and smiles, fingering her belt loop. “Why would you watch me? What would I do?”
“Dance on the edge. Holding your arms out like a bird - see,” Lin lifts up a wingspan and bends back her head, acting at freedom.
“I would fall. I’d be a dead bird. Ants would’ve already eaten me by the time I hit the ground.”
“I wouldn’t let you fall.”
Em looks off to the west, shakes her head, blond and cursed to look forever like a child when she's confused. “How can you keep me from falling if you’re on the ground?”
And she takes everything literally. It's the most tragic thing about her, and if Lin ever told her that, she would pout. Em wanted to be tragic sometimes. It came so easily to other people.
“I wouldn’t let you fall,” Lin repeats, and hip by hip embraces the blond from behind, walking her legs for her, swinging her hands for her, disturbing her breasts with each striking footfall for her.
Lin brings her to the pencil edge of the decaying rooftop and, a single charged unit, they stare toward the ground until they're both dizzy.
“It’s such a long way down, I can’t believe it. Why they would leave so much behind?”
Lin steps away. “Turn around.”
Em is so blue-eyed, designed from the pillaged spoils of early earth. She’d been mined out of California in a little black pan by someone Lin never wanted to meet, some foul old fuck with a beard, torn clothes, tan skin, who fished her out of river rock where she’d been sleeping peacefully for centuries.
Em makes a slow pivot, points her spine out at the city and breathes, suddenly unable to meet the bronze combustion of Lin’s stare, which is always shameless. She laughs again. “Should I be scared?”
“I wouldn’t,” Lin says. “Lift your arms.”
Motionlessness betrays Em's fear. It's the rot unspoken between them, fear. It grows green on their bellies, a muffled moist fungus glued together by years of affection unchallenged. Science be as illogical as it is exact - Em cannot explain why her balance should be impeccable if her arms stayed pressed down like dropped arrows, or how she knows there is more potential to soar like a dead, dead bird over and off the edge if she raises them, but she knows. She stays still.
“I knew it,” Lin says, hangs her face, breaks her heart.
“Lift your arms.”
“I don’t want to fall.”
“You never, ever listen.” The sun is a hand falling off of them now, drowsily leaving behind its indiscriminate caresses.
A heart beats between them louder than the shower of traffic from below. Em tastes sweat, blinks away its burn from her eyes. The sun thief steals her voice as it departs, but she stares at Lin with confusion, with concern, asking questions there are no words for.
“I would do it anyway, you know that?” Lin says. “After this, I would do it anyway. Lift your arms.”
Em lifts her arms, fastened to reality by the need to appease one’s captor.
“Close your eyes.”
She closes her eyes, they are doing nothing for her. She misses Lin’s face immediately and completely, wants to soothe its disappointment with her tongue.
“Put your head back.”
Gravity sings up to her, scales the building’s broken windows and peels along its ledge with eager arms, she feels it pull the words across her ass, her knees, her heart. This is special. They are special. Even falling, falling that far, falling so far you start to fall before you move, even death, they were in control of everything.
She tries to listen to Lin’s approaching legs, a shift, a scrape, a shift, but adrenaline clamors in instead, an inconsiderate and endless stabbing in her ears through open veins as the storm of ancient trains beats through her abdomen, didit, didit, didit, didit.
When they lay on the ground together, ant-bitten, later in the night, they know they’ll never talk again.