I watched a fire truck blow past in its cacophonous haste. I wondered where it was off to, someone or some place having a shit day no doubt. I remember once looking out over a grim industrial Chinese city wrapped in the dense orange nighttime pollution only possible in the depths of a winter on the banks of the Yellow river. I realized that the city lost in the haze beyond was full of millions of people, some having the best day of their lives, some their worst. And I just sat on a rooftop wrapped in my scarf and the cold wind, alone with my thoughts, having a mediocre day.
Today I was also having a mediocre day. The grey of winter had come here, though the temperature was much warmer, if still chilly. I noticed her come into the room, her socked feet making a slight whooshing sound as she moved. I turned to see she’d brought me a cup of coffee, which she handed off with a smile. She moved to fill the other half of the window and carefully pulled a smoke from the soft pack on the sill. She lit it, took a drag and let her gaze sweep past the life moving a few floors below.
“Shitty day, right?” she exhaled smoke as she spoke.
“Not the best.”
She grunted her feelings and concentrated on smoking. Pausing between drags to hold the cigarette up and look at the smoke rising.
“Do you like piano music?”
“In general?” I asked, trying not to sound confused. She liked to ask questions out of the blue. I always found it interesting, but sometimes they were so vague or odd that I had to ask clarification questions- questions she found annoying. To her it was a simple question, I guess our minds operate on different wavelengths.
“Yeah, like Chopin, or Debussy, or I don’t know Mozart maybe? Not their symphonies, just the songs for piano.”
“I guess, if I’m going for classical, which I’ll be honest is fairly rare, I usually go for the full symphony. Some real booming sound, deep harmonics. Fuck cannons if they’ve got ‘em.”
“For sure, not music for today, though. Can I put on some Chopin I was thinking of earlier?”
With my blessing of sorts she walked over to the bookcase and took out a record I’d never seen before.
“Is that new?”
“Na, it’s been here forever, don’t think I’ve ever played it, it came for that big box my mom gave us.”
She put the vinyl on the turntable and started the rotations. Our breaths both seemed to pause as the needle dropped and the first pops came through the speakers.
A few gentle, delicate notes began to fill the room. She returned to our lookout at the window and ashed her smoke. We looked out the window as the sound of ivories being tickled filled our small apartment.
Outside life went on, completely unaware of the beautiful melancholy just a few floors up.