• Vol. 07
  • Chapter 06

The Risk

In a certain country, people take large steps, trying to use up the space that surrounds them, trying to avoid the footsteps of others.

In that certain country, roads widen and lights darken. And imaginations are winged creatures, sometimes perched on slate roofs refusing to look down, sometimes burrowing deep, raising round startled eyes just above the soil when the noise beneath them is too loud.

Those burrowing below find, first, a layer of dust, then later, mud-wrapped history, forgotten bones and fragments. It can be cool there and peaceful, but without tools, the work is tedious. Sometimes, among the detritus, flakes of shine glimmer and glint – perhaps mysterious, perhaps a crumple of foil from a takeaway, part of a cat’s bell. A stench.

Those perched on the roofs focus on the blur of distant sky, a place they can always see, regardless of the fog or rain or time of day. Their wings are odd, heavy contraptions that make it difficult to take flight, but they try – how they try – with most managing a hovering hop or two, nails clicking on slate, rather than a sustained breathless soar.

Occasionally, the burrowers shrug the dirt from their wings and manage to perch on a roof, for a while anyway. Or the hovering hoppers catch a thermal and clumsily tilt towards the ground.

They search for each other, while dodging the traps, listening for cats and hiding from the seesawing shadows looping across roof and ground.

The burrowers are uncomfortable on the airy roofs, and the hoppers feel constrained by the weight of the ground, but the possibility is to meet and to see and be seen.