The people down there are walking on the concrete pavement, sitting on wooden benches, driving in their metal cars. The city is a constant loop of vehicles, smoke and smog, and noise. It goes around and around and I can see its shunted and criss-cross movement like the leaves on the trees see the ants below.
There are few trees here. There are some if you look hard enough, but mostly it’s stone built buildings and tarmac roads. I go down there sometimes, if I’m very hungry. I go down there and I pick at debris on the ground that’s small enough for my beak. I am tiny next to the people, but a flap of my wings is enough to make them side-step me. I think, when I see how startled they are by my movement, they are afraid of me. I like the feeling of safety that gives me, but if I think about it too much I’m confused. I am so small and I can’t do much to harm them. They could crush me with their hands, their big wide flexing palms. I don’t know anything of Daphne Du Maurier or Alfred Hitchcock, so I don’t know, I don’t know why they avoid me.
Mostly I soar high above it all and I watch the organised chaos with intense fascination. It is grey, like a sheet of dull metal, the city. Up here I have found small pleasures in my wide open day. I passed this way weeks ago, where the city starts to recede, where the noise starts to quieten. There is a building back here of terracotta bricks and a deep black gutter runs the top of its face like a sweatband. It was here that I did what I do when I’ve eaten from the street below, except this time it must have been when I’d come in from a garden further out because what I dropped was a seed. I flew over this very gutter and I let the thing fall from my body. I know exactly where it fell because it made a sound as it hit the scoop of the gutter and it caused me to lower my beak for a second to see. A single seed. That’s all it takes.
There in that very spot, I can now see something beautiful. Its green fingers are held open to the sky. It is delicate and strong at the same time, this thing I have grown right here up above the street on the edge of this stone built building. I wonder if anyone in the street below ever sees it. They never seem to look up. But as I look down, I circle the building and I feel my heart swell in my rib cage. I grew this, this funny spider-leg plant that found its home in the guttering. I brought the seed and I dropped it just where it needed to be. Amid the grey sky and the grey street, I grew this.
Samantha Priestley is the author of the Folded Word short-fiction chapbooks Dreamers (2014) and Orange Balloon (2016). She’s a novelist, playwright, and essayist who spins words into gold from her home in Sheffield, UK.
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