They come down from the roof at night, the Wild Girls, chasing each other through the open doorway of my building, down the stairs, and out onto the street for their brief visit to the ground.
I hear them most often in the early morning, waking from a dream to the sounds of laughter, and I open my eyes wide as I jump to the window hoping to get a glimpse of one. Their feet make almost no sound, their bodies used to the wide open spaces above. In the late hours it can look like they’re flying, leaping from building to building, the water towers and hidden gardens more their homes than any place else. Even as they pass by my door, their colored skirts trailing behind them as the glide through the inside, I can only guess at their nature. I can only guess at where they come from and why my building is the one they use to reach the ground.
Just before sunrise one morning, I awoke to the sound of nothing. I rubbed my eyes, listening to the noises in the night, before I saw a glimmer of color in the window. Without turning I trained my eyes towards the fire escape, and for just a moment I saw her face. Young and old at the same time, her eyes glowed with a brightness I had never seen. Her hair was silver and blue, trailing down her back around her crimson rags. With a smile she pressed her small hand against the window before leaping up into the darkness.
It was just a dream, I told myself. This Wild Girl, pausing for just a moment to see how we live. To see who we are with as much curiosity as we hold for them. And maybe it’s for the best. Maybe some mysteries are better left unseen and better let unknown. There are reasons some people choose not live on the ground.
But in the morning, coffee bringing back the memory in a flash, I looked closely at the glass, only to see fingerprints pressed into the pane. I smiled, wondering what truth it held. It would be a month before their return, but there’s no harm in trying.
Weeks later, I tied the small bag to the rusted iron outside of the fire escape. It was a weak offering, gathered from guessing more than any real understanding, but I closed the shade before I slept, knowing I had already seen enough.
In the morning when I opened the blinds to the bright sun, there was nothing left at all.