I love rooftops. Open spaces make unrivaled places for open conversations. And because things from a highappear beautiful, fragile, immaterial and ; just as they typically are.
“This is all the liquid I could get. Let’s drink it and pretend we are. Cheers!” she joked and handed out Mirinda to everyone. The gang of girls obeyed dutifully, like they always did. She was a happy-go-lucky, of 32, a teacher, mother of a six-year-old, divorced and the uncrowned leader of the gang. Spending time on the rooftop at night, some sensibility and tons of non-sense had become a regular feature for all of us.
After a few poorly mimicked and supposedly funny drunken, someone finally asked, “So what are we celebrating?” She stood up; still acting drunk and giddy, hoisted the bottle in one hand and announced “My son is coming to meet me! I will be seeing him after six months. He will spend his entire summer vacation here. He has grown up…” She went on fervently for another few minutes about her son. I waited with equal fervor for her mask to slip.
We had been friends for some time now. She loved everybody, everyone loved her. Me, I just wasn’t sure if there ever was a real person for us to love. Humor in every situation, silver lining in all incidences, self-convincing, ever-grinning; like a bloody smiley was sewn to her face. I wanted to know the real her, one that didn’t get tipsy over a “half-bottle-full” of Mirinda.
“Six months is a long time. Why don’t you see him more often?”
“He has his classes. He cannot travel. I have my job too. But the time we get together, worth it!”
“Do you have custody issues? You should talk to your ex. He is not being fair if he…”
“It’s not his fault! He has a wife to please too. Parenting is not easy! They both have a system, which is working fine for all of us. Not their fault at all. He is, in fact, the best ex one could ask for.”
“Best ex? I thought those where imaginary creatures.”
“He is the best ex! He is a good father, never bad-mouths about me in front of our son and hardly fights. What more could one ask for?”
“Loyalty may be.”
“Yes, yes, he found someone else and left me. But love doesn’t come with lifetime guarantee anyways. I did want to chop his head off once. Not anymore. We did spend some amazing time together after all. Travelled, learnt new stuff, and lived! Good memories. ”
“Oh yes! A lot of good memories. The wedding, the birth, everyday little stuff… Oh! One time, he came home late at night but we still spent hours…”
“Whoa! We get it. Shut up now, drunko,”
The drunken monologues and giddy laughter took over again. I kept look at her face for signs, but the mask stayed on. And it never slipped for all the years that we were friends.
Maybe I was wrong after all. Maybe there was no mask. Maybe she had realized something we all choose to ignore: things are just as they seem from the rooftop – beautiful, fragile, insignificant and ephemeral.