The heights were unnatural; unnerving even to him. But still he leaned against the metal railing – which had once or twice been known to give way beneath man’s weight – to gaze upon the city. The dancing lights, he realised, were what was so mesmerising. Even from such a distance, he could feel their warmth surrounding him; comforting him. The sweat sizzled upon his brow as if he was directly above a fireplace, scaling the chimney like a stocky Father Christmas who had been glimpsed by an excitable young child.
He could only imagine what it would be like to live in one of those small houses far below him, though he knew it could only be a fate far more satisfactory than his at the present.
“Jeff!” He had expected the cry, so didn’t jump in fright. It came again, slightly more distant than the first, as if in reply. He took a couple of steps back, right hand still clasped to the railing, lingering for as long as he dared. An older voice took up the cry too, and he knew he must be on his hasty way.
He closed his eyes as he walked, drifting back to the view from the roof. He had looked so long and hard that he could still see wisps of smoke steaming the odd window as coffee was brewed; could hear satisfied laughter and the smells of one hundred meals cooking at once.