~700 words: a small piece from a writing exercise


There is a man. Every morning he rises from bed and puts on his black slacks and blue button-up shirt and his loafers. He rolls his sleeves. He brushes his teeth—first without any paste, then very softly with some, a mild type with very little taste.

Then he climbs the stairs in his apartment building to the roof. He never takes the elevator. Not because he’s afraid of it breaking and him falling to his death, but because he’s afraid of breaking himself for taking it. So he climbs the stairs. And every morning, when he pushes open the stairwell door, the first rush of air—whether hot, cold, dry, humid—is when he feels most alive.

There are a few finches that keep him company in the morning. He has brought the ends of his bread, breaks these up and tosses the crumbs into some of the roof’s garden beds and sprinkles some in the dish beside the bird fountain. The birds chirp and flit around. He pretends that they recognize him. He lets the rise and fall of their calls guide him to the garden hose.

He enjoys pressing the hose trigger. The water is so responsive, bucks the nozzle in his weathered and thick hands. Shredded droplets turned fine mist turned rainbow. He uses this transformation to water all the plants—the perennial flowers and their stocky vegetable neighbors.

When this is done, he senses that everything is happy around him so then he is happy. He doesn’t let this bother him: the fact his happiness is predicated on the level of others around him. He doesn’t bother with those things. He just does it to be satisfied. Because what else do we have besides our ability to make others happy? Especially if doing so makes us happy? But he doesn’t ponder such ramblings.

Which is why I always feel so strange watching the man on the roof. As he reclines in a stiff upright wood chair like it is some luxurious couch, I feel as though he can’t be trusted. He is too pleased with himself. First off, I tend not to trust men who are too easily humored by their efforts as it seems to me too shallow because what they celebrate then is not necessarily the result of their work or even the process of their work but instead they’re holding on to the idea that them simply doing something is enough, that there’s no need for them to feel, really feel, the work itself. Men like this are not to be trusted. In my humble opinion.

Second, I don’t trust folks who get up so early in the morning. Not for the reason you think though. I love the morning and earlier is better, as close to dawn as possible, better yet if there just before dawn, when the sun is already beginning to light your part of the world but can’t be seen. No, I don’t trust these folks because they keep the morning joy to themselves. They’re selfish people. Inherently, they are gaining a head start, but worse, they don’t like to share the secret of the mornings with others. You see this now, right?

The birth of a morning sun will always tell you that today is new. It’s fresh. Obviously I won’t go into the chemical benefits of such a moment but for your own sanity bear with me and see how witnessing the sun rise anew when it’s not new and has been doing this for millennia over and over again has to be truly the only way to feel that life is so beautiful and doesn’t matter.

How can both be true? But in this man both are true. In the morning sun both are true. Is it strange that humanity’s notion of time, a forever constant, first came from the sun and its relentless orbit, when in truth, the sun will one day cease and go off into a trillion quadrillion bits of star dust?

That is the final reason that I do not trust the man on the roof.

5 thoughts on “Untitled”

  1. Really like this, Jeremy! Was the exercise anything in particular? The first part reminds me a bit of the box man…remember that?
    You should build on this!

    1. The exercise in particular was writing as soon as a thought hit and to use a pen and paper. I’m trying to do more “physical” exercises rather than around certain topics or techniques, hopefully to train myself when it comes to the “heavier” writing. The box man reference completely eludes me! Remind me!!

  2. Interesting piece of work – nicely done. But I can’t but wonder if you actually woke up at dawn once to ponder this, or if you went to sleep at dawn.

    1. I have woken up at dawn and gone to sleep at dawn many-a-more-time than I ever want, hah! As to this one instant, its genesis is in all the rooftop gardens I see in NY 🙂 Thanks for reading!!

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