— Little Birds, Simon Van Booy
She awoke in the queen-sized bed, sweaty underneath its quilted burgundy coverlet, white ankle socks on her feet, legs bare, another annual celebration endured on a second-floor room of the familiar hotel. A pair of beds side by side, one left untouched, without a wrinkle. Natalie remembered the night before with surprising clarity, singing and swaying in the club’s corner, how he’d looked at her as though she was a pulled pork sandwich, glistening with sauce, a side of it to spare. She’d told him she was too old to greet the possibilities of another year with another forgettable stranger in a strange bed. Awakening alone was always easier when she’d fallen asleep alone, curled on her side with a fort of pillows around her for safety’s sake, faux bodies, warmth and weight. She knew what was best for her. Her traditions were comforting, her rote procedures edifying. Gold glitter sparkled on Natalie’s neck and flashed on the pillowcase, sunken from her head’s weight. Above the sitting area in the corner, hung a framed poster of a schooner. Natalie vowed, rubbing her eyes, that this was the year she’d take up boating.
The night he climbed onto the roof there was a full moon. She would not have known this had she not been staring at his backlit silhouette like a paper cutout perched upon the pitched shingles of their rental home. The landscape was brighter than she’d expected at such an hour. How could there be shadows in the middle of the night, she wondered.
He was the problem and he was the reason she stood on the lawn, hissing at him to come down while simultaneously wondering how he got up there. Was this the first time he’d done this or were there other occasions, yielding such soundless dexterity? The roof was only twenty or twenty five feet from the ground. He didn’t appear shaky or unstable, but if he fell, surely he would break something. Surely, at least, he would scream in pain should something break. The neighbors would be roused by screaming, undoubtedly. In the chiaroscuro of 2 a.m., nothing but her produced any noise, so she fell silent, too.
He sat on the peak now, perhaps tired from upright balancing. Leaning backwards, his face was beatific, eyes wide. And within moments, the spring peepers began to sing.