W.E. – The Sky Deck

The First Night

The lady who occupied the penthouse apartment on East 22nd Street had the sky deck to herself except for her six lucky cats, which basically lived out there. When the Moon was full she’d come out and howl at it, her fine little figure casting long shadows amongst the potted bushes and trees. “Wooooooow!!!” she’d howl repeatedly, not quite loud enough to drown out the sounds the fire trucks made with their blasting horns and sirens some fourteen stories below, but with more than adequate volume to send shivers down the spine of anyone in the vicinity.

New York was fighting for its survival against a heat wave of unprecedented length and intensity. Temperatures ran in the mid-to-high 90s, and the high humidity was suffocating enough to make the frogs in the city’s few remaining ponds envy the dead fish that lay packed in ice inside the Sea Food Market. The working men wiped sweat off their brows with one hand, while struggling to keep the flies off their skin with the other. Men wearing special body suits were dragging fresh ice up from large deep freezers in the basement.

Families were struggling to survive from one day to the next, an overloaded emergency management system barely responded any longer. Thousands of rescue workers kept calling in sick, because they and their dependants were too exhausted, dehydrated, and demoralized to give a damn.

The gifted young woman who enjoyed howling triumphantly at the Moon while the rest of the city was suffering wasn’t crazy. No, she possessed some unusual powers that made the struggles of ordinary New Yorkers seem oddly distant and unreal.

Under the Sun

On the next summer’s day, the hottest on record, Safrina walked slowly out on the sky deck, taking one silent leap forward at a time, staring straight ahead as if in a deep trance. Once outside, she raised her arms and had them point straight at the Sun in a 90-degree angle, her fingers spread wide apart. Her eyes remained open as they looked right into the huge glowing bowl overhead.

She opened her mouth. At that moment, a beautiful orange-and-black colored butterfly appeared. It crawled out of her mouth, danced idly in front of her lips for a few minutes, and finally disappeared into the hot air towards oblivion.

The woman smiled, opened her mouth again, and snapped with her fingers on both hands at the same time. Suddenly, a pack of butterflies were swarming all around her. All belonged to the same species as the one that had crawled out of her mouth, and soon they too vanished into the hot blue air.

“Full Moon comes, full Moon glows, butterflies from velvet lips must go!” she murmured with pride and sadness in her voice. “My butterflies are all gone now, I had to set them free.” True. Next season, the whole routine would repeat itself: Incubation, care, preparation, release, and she’d be all alone once again!

Angus, the largest and oldest of her six felines, silently came over and rubbed itself against her leg in a loving gesture. Someone might expect her to pick it up or bend down and pad it, saying: “Oh, I have you, so I’m not all alone, am I?” But they’d be wrong. Safrina, a cat owner for 7 years, had never spoken to or touched any of them, because she could control their every action with her mind. She and they understood one another as they lived and breathed.

The Second Night

Eleven p.m. had finally come around, and Safrina could leave her spacious apartment for the first time in days. Her dark gothic mind resented ordinary people, shied away from crowds, and always sought for places of somber serenity.

Having walked briskly, yet hardly noticeably for fifteen blocks, she opened the iron gate to her favorite cemetery. Across town, men were shirtless and women wore only their bras or a singlet, but she was dressed for late autumn. The cap on her long coat covered her black hair, and the high heels on her long boots made distinct sounds against the ground. With her long eye lashes, deep black eyes, purple mascara and matching lipstick, she looked ready to seduce a necromancer.

Mister Eckleton’s tombstone stood tall and proud under a giant cedar tree, which filled the air with a sweet scent designed to induce an appetite for the afterlife.

“Full Moon comes, full Moon glows, bad boys from my cliff must drop!” she recited, exactly like she had done once a month for the past two-and-a-half years. “I didn’t murder you, did I? Not exactly, anyway.”

Back when he was still alive, Mr. Eckleton had used his charm to impose himself upon this privileged but relatively inexperienced young witch. She felt lonely, and he had seduced her with his mysterious demeanor, which held up the false promise that there was so-much-more to the man than he immediately let show. A reborn sorcerer from a distant past.

He had been living with her rent-free for over a year, which he spent drinking up a good portion of her inheritance, while she ingested his lies articulated perfectly with an Oxford scholar accent. She had discovered the accent was fake one night when she heard him talking in his sleep in a flat Brooklyn tongue. At that moment, she knew that she had been betrayed by a clown, that his great “spiritual performance,” which allegedly he had been polishing month after month, would never happen.

“Ah well, you surely came tumbling down from the sky, didn’t you, Sir Eckleton?” she now said scornfully in a voice deeper than her usual self. “You lived comfortably at my expense, until I made you walk in your sleep with the mysterious and magical forces that I possess. Naughty, naughty! Didn’t your mistress-turned-landlady tell you never to walk out on the sky deck under a full Moon?”

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