Perched on the Edge of the Rooftops...

December 15, 2007
By Dana Kobylenski, Eldersburg, MD

Perched on the edge of the rooftops like a peregrine falcon, I observed my city as Day’s light faded swiftly, running to the west, falling out of the sky, chased by the darkness of Night’s cloak. With her light’s evaporation, Day’s subjects also faded, letting the cobblestone streets to Night’s thieves, watchmen, drunkards, trollops, and tricksters.

Night-market smells tickled my nose, tempting me from my roost. Roasting meat, bakery goods and sugary delights drifted through the air. Surrendering, I strode across the roof in grace, sliding down the ladder with a practiced flair. The watch kept a weary eye on me, as they should. If they ever seemed anything less than attentive, someone might pick them off to teach them a lesson. Walking past them, I trotted into the Night-market, greeted instantly with sights, sounds and smells. Children of vendors played in the streets, their laughter adding warmth to Night’s chill. Chatter of people melded together, becoming background noise. Brightly colored stalls lined the street, selling craftsman’s treasures, trader’s goods and baker’s fares. Tang of copper and iron metals mixed gently with exotic spices and foods, creating a scent all its own.

“Fair maiden!” A voice called to me, rough and menacing.

“A fair maiden I am not, trickster,” I growled back, knowing their manner, for having seen it many nights over. Instead I ambled on, weaving through the stalls for a destination only my feet knew. As faces passed, I remembered a time where I was Day’s patron. A time that I had left behind many moons before. Weak and oblivious I had been, to think that Day was better than Night. Day, with its false promises and two-faced liars. At least Night opens your eyes to such things, evaporating the innocence which makes us blind.

“Kita!” Another voice, this one with knowledge of my name. Turning, I faced a man a head taller than myself. Tilting back my own head, I stared directly into his deep blue eyes.

“You know of me?” Trapping confidence in my voice out of routine, I let my own light green eyes pass over him, taking in his smith’s garb of worn brown breaches with a white shirt and his sweet smile.

“You are playing me, Kita. I used to be a Day-market man, remember?” His smooth tone and tanned skin brought back what I had hidden inside myself.

“Ansel, you dog,” I whispered, his own appearance surfacing some unwanted emotions within.

His grin widening wildly, he continued, “So you do remember me! I thought I would have to jog your memory.”

Giving him a polite smile, I forced down all I felt of this man. He was out of my life when I left Day’s realm! In my ignorance I had fallen for this smith’s apprentice, fancying myself in love. When I became a Night-walker, I saw how silly I had been.

“What are you doing in Night-market?” Waving my hand to the extent of which I came, trying to explain that this was not a place for Day-walkers to roam.

“When I finished my training, I bought a forge of my own. Instead of selling in Day-market and competing with my teacher, I thought Night-market would be a better time for my workings,” he gestured to the stall behind him, filled to its brim with workings made of an array of metals. “There are other reasons, though.”

His comment brought my eyes back to his face, where I read sorrow in his eyes. “What of them, these other reasons?”

Ansel motioned to the stall next to his, a baker selling goods and refreshments, “Are you not busy for a few minutes? Could we talk?”

Staring straight into his eyes, I seemed to have lost any thought but the truth, “I have nothing else to bother my time at this moment.”

The charming smile was back. He bought food and drink, pulling out two stools from behind his counter. Sipping the cider he had handed me, I found myself spilling events past. Ansel himself shared a few things, but most of them mundane compared to the workings of Night.

“So what of the reasons?” I brought us full circle, wanting to stop with this mild chatter. Friends I had some, but never a love.

“You disappeared, and I wished to find you,” he replied, staring into his hands as if they held truth. “I had thought to look everywhere. When the opportunity arose that I could work a stall in the Night-market, I jumped for the chance, hoping to see you again.”

“Why?” Such a foolish question, one that tricksters and thieves loved to hear, as to sink sweetened words into your ear, poisoning your mind into giving them anything.

“Of that I cannot speak of,” he whispered carefully. “Of that I cannot speak for my heart, as it has stolen away my head.”

Pretty words from a pretty fellow, I thought, but hidden inside I knew that his words were true. No actor of any kind would have been able to pull off a perfect control of hand, eye, and voice emotion.

“Oh,” I murmured, knowing full well he could hear. “Oh.”

Not knowing what had become of me, I leapt to my feet and threw my arms around his neck with the knowledge that it was all still there, hidden well below, all my Day-self, mixed with Night. Night trained me to open my eyes, but in the end I shut them from who I was, forgetting it all.

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