Each step, each pull, each inch higher was a drumbeat, a rhythm heard in the pounding of her blood inside her head. Lightheaded, she moved in dizzy tremblings, higher and higher, no longer looking down, no longer caring how far the fall. Somewhere above was her destination. Somewhere above was where she needed to be, and she focused only on that, the way a ten year old climbs trees without regard for getting down.
Higher and higher, where the wind exchanged its caresses for blows, and she knew she could feel the concrete, steel, and glass give and sway, even by millimeters.
Where she was going, she might never feel solid ground under her feet again; she gave up missing it, so she could continue on, and rolled with the movements, as though the city itself was a ship, and she stood at the mast, high in the rigging, reaching for the crows’ nest, looking out for the oncoming storm.
She reached the top, fingers dug against the stone, pads and prints raw for the time it took to get that far, and eased herself up onto the ledge, the toes of her boots against the building’s face, her cheek against the glass. She felt the wind at her back, the whip of it stinging cold against the sweat beaded there. Her hair was flung out behind her in a chaos of braids and curls; she grabbed for one, and came up with a thin green braid. She cut it off and tied it in knots around an iron nail that had been dipped in blood and holy water, and laid it on the window’s ledge.
Her breath frosted the pane, and one hand’s spindly half-outline left a ghostly empty space that evaporated as he woke.
Still, he fit his hand on the other side of the window, in the space where it had been. He didn’t look out over the city; he was still afraid of heights, but he imagined that right there, the glass was just a fraction warmer than the rest of the world would ever be.