Sarah Wrote That

Up On The Roof

A Guest Post by _________

After reading that Awl post yesterday, I decided it was high time I got cracking with my snorty forties, so I sexted around to all the fortysomethings I know who haven’t blocked me (nothing personal, they’ve DM-ed; kids, you know, using the phone, AMIRITE), and what do you know at wine o’clock on a weekday (weak day we call them) nothing was going yet in Rye and Montclair, trains late, bar cars crammed, bunheads to pick up from lessons, but hey Brooklyn! And one of the mixed blessings of being forty-five or forty-two or even thirty-nine is the belief that no one, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, knows the parkways and bridges of northern New Jersey as well as you do. For instance, the Outerbridge Crossing! Not so named because it’s the outer bridge!

So in less time than it takes to scroll through a five-hundred comment thread, there I was, parked in the old ’hood, mid-block of course, and up on the roof they had better have been getting that party started, and they were! And since this was Brooklyn, of course everyone there were writers, so rather than incriminate myself, I asked for a few impressions. Think of them as guest posts of a guest post.

*

We were in the stars among the bare shoulders. The sounds of the BQE moved across our railing. We let the dog up. Truck screams. Always there are expressways we never take. Dirk arrived with an apple basket, the dog jumped to give chase. I said those don’t look like apples. Someone gave the dog Stella. Tom was mad to see Dirk. I knew why to keep them separate. Stella? I said, and heard Gretchen’s scowl—too hoppy!—ten years ago and over the Williamsburg bridge, beltless on the back of a Chevy before she knew anyone still did coke. Now Marylou and Gretchen and Jen. All of them 1997. Tom fixed me another, and the dog was circling us with the basket empty. Where are the children, I said. Children meant dogs, meant rescue. All of us still working. Would you look at us, Jen said. Still was a new word. We had all the night in the world. Where’s the dog, I said. I saw him over the edge, then it was me Dirk and Tom were holding back, and two with a stroller on Carroll Street, looking up and moving on.

*

Orvis had not been to the Katalona Roofs before but she was able to eye up the place quickly enough: a few young adepts at a makeshift bar, in the red hoods that let everyone know they were permitted mead; a few guards, electric sticks winking at their sides, at rest. She found Torga, who motioned her to the novice’s couch. The ridges of Torga’s cheek implants caught the last golden sun and shone under her glitter blush. She handed Orvis a cool cup of blue sorga and pointed, and Torga turned and looked over the half-ruined bridges and blindingly high splinter of the Tower of the Fifth Freedom.

“Mana-hatta,” Torga said. “Would you like to go?”

“Of course.”

“You must sniff this.”

She took Orvis’s cup and handed her a white plate and small spoon. Orvis pointed at the Plaids smoking at the far end of the roof.

“They are being trained for Wilms Berk and Gryn Pint,” Torga said. “Do not think of them. I have more in mind for you.”

*

That was the year I decided that in my condition excess was best attempted in small, well-tempered batches, so I had skipped Courtney’s party, pleading work, and the Dans’, who still believed in Facebook and to whom I could later apologize that I never used the damned thing, but Ethan K’s would be too risky for me to miss (too risqué to attend, Ethan might’ve said, meaning nothing but the pun, and to get me, always one step too serious, to ask why and be left as the one who killed the repartee). But too many agents might happen to inquire after my next mss. Seven years it had been, and only two short excerpts squeezed out as stories into ________ and ___ ____________. And indeed N. was in attendance, her glass untouched and perfectly poised the entire evening, and S., his laugh defeating sound barriers, no doubt, down the roofs of that block and across the street. “How is the draft?” P. asked me, with what seemed to me true warmth (we had not met face to face since her hair was brown), so that managing, at last, to offer my word count, I felt myself distend like one of my daughter’s Play-doh animals in the moment before she rends it in two and has never been so delighted, until the next animal blots it from memory: indeed I had hundreds of pages rich with nuggets needing only a good reader’s eye to pan them; and I had hundreds of pages from which I could see no emergent shape, and for which I could only beg what is not dispensed on roof decks in the summer, what people go up to roof decks to rise above and breathe out as far over other roofs as they can see. “Soon,” I said, and P. raised her glass.

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