Zoë Meager

When she wakes – if she wakes – the building seems to be asleep. With all its eyes switched off or blinded, the honey-trap mouth alone drools light onto the street. The sleepers are snuggled, bees in their cells, so the only sounds are the breath of the bodies and the breath of the building, its air-conditioning sighs and floor polisher slowly tonguing the lobby.

Tiptoeing the hallway. Sneaking a thieved key into a maintenance door. The soles of her feet are padded paws to the ladder’s steely rungs.

Come on, it's easy.

The night is cold. The concrete roof is gritty. She is naked and the moon looks down on her through the smog, pasting its second-hand light over her body.

Across the dark expanse of roof she steps to the edge. Somewhere behind her, a generator switches to a deeper rumble. So far below traffic slides around the grid. Strident complaints of horn over shushing tyres over off-key radio stations muffled in cabs.

The sweep of stars, the spread of bitumen. Neither look so very far.

She mounts the ledge, her white backside mooning farewell to the sleepers below.

She walks a length. The ledge is sister.

A breath. No breath. The balance of a one-legged bird.


There she is deposited. Crouched in a rigid, watchful pose. Neck lengthened, teeth bared, eyes needling the city’s span.

It begins at her feet, the once-tender soles now unfeeling. Inside her, muscles and tendons harden. Bones already the colour of stone change only their density. As skin ices over, toenails bore into stone, cementing her there with a diamond love bite.

Face unstung by slapping wind. Eyes unwatered by neon fields.

Her heartbeat, stopped.

Transcendent over the echoing black below.

Cold, still, fearsome. Monumental.

At last. Grotesque.