Zoe Miller stood on the roof of the office building and shivered in response to the winter winds. She took a final drag on the cigarette she was holding. She parted her lips ever so slightly and a ghost of smoke slithered out, merging with the air as it drifted away and quickly disappearing. Insignificant in the wider scheme of things, she thought as she crushed the butt beneath the heel of her shoe. She could see the nearby park from her vantage point; she could even see the pond at its centre.
A little girl with long hair crafted into twin plaits was standing at the edge of a small lake. It was a sunny day and there was a slight and gentle breeze in the air. The little girl picked up a small pebble that was sitting next to her right foot. With a child’s throw – lacking in strength but overcompensating in spirit – she sent the pebble to a watery resting place. It hit the water with a loud ‘sploosh’, creating a large splash, the disturbance soon turned to meagre ripples. Not long after that, the surface fell. No sign that a pebble had crashed through it mere seconds ago. Throwing the pebble had been utterly inconsequential.
Zoe looked up at the sun, which was partially obscured by heavy grey clouds. As the sun vanished the coldness intensified, and Zoe wrapped her arms around herself in an attempt to conserve warmth. An attempt that proved futile. She peered over the edge of the building and gulped nervously as she saw the very long way down. She found the drop both terrifying and utterly hypnotic. A pigeon flew up from the ground and passed by Zoe’s head at speed. She followed the pigeon with her eyes.
She watched it soar upon ruined wings. High above the ground. Free as a…
A little girl spotted a cluster of pigeons standing still in the middle of a grassy field. She ran at them at high speed, her wellington boots kicking up splashes of mud. She leapt and landed with a heavy ‘splut’ next to the pigeons – a small brown wave rose up and crashed down upon them. With a chorus of ‘coos’ the pigeons took to the skies and flew away from the mud-splattered menace. The little girl laughed and watched the pigeons fly with wonder in her eyes. She called over to her mother who had decided not to follow her daughter’s muddy footsteps. Her mother looked up.
“One day mummy,” the girl called, “I’m going to fly!”
Zoe stood teetering on the edge of the office block and looked out at the city. A sprawling mass of concrete and glass spreading its toxic influence even further. She looked around at the sky – a fiery sun, a watery sky and misty clouds.
“Days like these.” Zoe whispered to herself placing a cigarette in her mouth and lighting it.
A little girl slipped on a branch and tumbled from the tree. She fell hard on her knee which scraped against a jagged root. Blood appeared and dribbled from the ugly smile cut into her knee. She opened her mouth and wailed, the cry acting as a whistle that summoned her attentive mother to her side.
“Shush darling shush. It’s just a little cut, you’ll be okay.” The mother whispered soothingly into her daughter’s ear.
“Will I?” the little girl asked. Her mother smiled.
“Of course,” she said as she dabbed at her daughter’s knee. “Remember Zoe, it doesn’t matter how far you fall as long as you stand back up.”
“I’ll remember that mummy.” The little girl said.
Zoe closed her eyes and took a single step forward. In the end the ripples would vanish, but the lake would remain.