Tightrope

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At the top of the world there is nothing but the noise of shoes on concrete: click click click, and the wooosh that is the strangled howl of the wind shouting down below.

Polished shoes; not too expensive, but still very nice. They go click click click on rough concrete that is there just to serve its purpose: it doesn't need to look more pleasant or to feel smooth to the touch, because nobody will ever want to observe it; to caress it. Nobody lives at the top of the world, after all, except for monsters when they need to take their mask off.

One foot following the other and sometimes, if the wind below gets stronger, it swallows any other sound and then there's only that static noise that fills the air and Johan's head wherever he goes.

Left is: more gray concrete; solid, artificial ground under your feet. Right is: yet more concrete, yes, but you won't touch it unless you fly and fly and fall first. That's all there is at the top of the world for Johan: concrete, air, distances and people so far away they don't even really exist here. There is no danger; there is no fear.

Johan is not scared because he knows he won't fall if he doesn't want to: not only humans can become anything, they can do anything too, as long as they understand this fact sincerely. If you know, really know, you will walk on and on and on, until you have reached that place your heart longs for. And you will be alive, and you will be happy.

Johan isn't too sure about happiness, though. The more he remembers, the more he wonders. Happiness is Anna. Happiness is giving her all the wild flowers he can hold with his two hands. Happiness would be giving her the world, wrapped up with a pretty red ribbon, and to see her smile. Johan can picture the shape and the warmth and the gentle weight on his heart that this happiness would possess; he can picture it all in his mind quite clearly, because it's a possibility, a string of events which could take place anywhere and at any time, as long as the two of them were together. As long as Anna did not hate him. And Anna nowadays is somewhere else, following his traces but not him, and Johan is smart – has always been – and he understands when a mirage is just that and when it can become a dream.

Dreams require faith and hope. Johan has none of these; needs none of these.

Johan doesn't need to believe because all he needs is the reality of here and now—the tools he can use to get a little closer to the place he knows he must return to, and there's no way something which exists only inside his head can be useful like that.

Johan has no dreams because he doesn't hope. There is just something he needs to do—an ending he must write, and then he will stop wondering and not-knowing forever, and maybe Anna will smile again, and things will be okay, somehow: he doesn't need hope to make his body move along this path of concrete. Johan can walk as long as he wants to.

And with no hope comes no fear, for there is nothing to be afraid of when there is nothing to lose, no opportunity for anything or anyone to hurt you ever again. Nothing you must protect (because now it's from you that she would run away; or maybe she would try and destroy you, because, remember this well, Johan, Anna is like your mother: gentle but strong and unwavering to the point of being unconsciously cruel).

Just—Go forward and never look back. Then everything will be fine, everything will be as you want it to; and that's far more important than wishing for happiness.

Go forward, never look back.

That's what Johan does: nice, clean shoes that aren't too expensive on rough concrete, and the city at his feet. Click click click.

There is no voice calling him (making up meaningless names) here, and this is what Johan likes the most about rooftops: being here feels almost like the end of his long journey will. Like the end of everything. His own Doomsday—

—And the wind must have gotten stronger, because its strangled howl is louder and the air colder and Johan's eyes sting as he smiles to the void.