I'm thirteen. It's a clear night in September.
Well, I say clear - nothing's really very clear these days, is it? Well, not usually, but if you go up far enough, you can almost get out of the general smog of the city, and almost see the sky.
And that's where I'm taking Harth now.
Thing is, Harth has always been a fan of the sky he can't see. I'm happy in the city: at home in the three dimensional maze of buildings and vehicles, climbing and running and jumping like a monkey in the jungle on one of those historical nature scopes. Harth, though, he’ll sit for hours in front of the scope screen, just soaking it all in. He'll watch anything really, but he loves history. He'll watch anything that has men on horses or girls in skirts: sword fights, romance, honour: he loves that toy.
But mostly he loves the sky. It's always so blue in the scopes, he says. Nowadays the sky over Haddyn's all sorts of shades of red and violet and yellow as pollutants mix with - well, other pollutants - in the air around the city. I don't mind it so much: I think it's dramatic, but Harth likes the blue from the scopes, and the stars. He loves that in the past they could see stars.
So, what better way to tell my brother I love him than to take him to see the stars? I'm not so spun as to try and get out of the protecting fog while the sun's beating down - I like my DNA as it is, thank you - but after dark, that's safe. The building I'm taking him to has an official name, I think, but I don't know it. We just call it The Needle. Anyway, it's big. Tallest in New York, by all accounts. Apartments, mostly. Folks rich enough to afford somewhere this far above the rest of the city, up above where the usual smog and cloud obscure the light, well, they don’t tend to want to become radies, so they don’t tend to have windows.
And that’s good, because then they can’t see me climbing up the outside of the building with Harth on my back.
Security’s tight, of course, place like this, but as long as there’s no windows, and no way of actually getting into the apartment, there’s nothing I can’t dodge, leap over, or avoid altogether. I’m gonna be a professional grabber one day, this is nothin’.
Harth’s clinging to me. He always was terrified of heights. But I’m not going to let him fall. His hands slip and I just grab onto him. I’d carry him slung over my shoulder if I wasn’t worried about him chucking down my back. That’s not the point, though, anyway. Climbin’s just getting there. And when we break out of the cloud cover, his complaints stop. I cover the last few yards quickly without his whines, and bring him to the top of the building.
“Oh, Mel!” He says, staring up at the sky above. “Look at it, Mel!”
I’m looking of course. That’s why I brought him up here, but I punch him lightly in the arm. “See, Scaredy, toldya it would be worth it!”
He won’t go near the edge of the roof of course, but sinks to his knees right in the center of the roof, head back, mouth open, just gaping at the sight. It’s kinda shiny, I guess. But when it gets down to it, it’s just black with white dots. Harth thinks it’s rocketship though, and that’s what matters. I sit down next to him, wrapping my arms arm around me for warmth and look up with him.
Harth leans back automatically so we’re lying down, and starts pointing out constellations. “That one there,” he says, “is Cassiopeia. She was the mother of Andromeda, and…” and he carries on with that for hours, telling me stories from his scopes that I have no way of telling whether he’s spinning me or not.
Erin’s gonna be skitzed when we get home. She’ll be skitzed we left without telling her and even more so next week when Harth accidentally lets slip we’ve climbed The Needle. She’ll yell at both of us, spin some line about how she’s doin’ the best she can but we need to be responsible, and Harth’ll be so upset about it that I’ll never be able to persuade him to go back. Within a year, Harth’ll be dead.
But I don’t know any of that now. Now, I’m just lying next to my twin brother, our arms around each other for warmth and comfort, staring up at the stars and listening to his voice.
That is the memory I want to take with me.
Muse: Melaka Fray
Word Count: 801