- finality -
Gail Wynand strode through the doors of his monument, took off his hat, and looked up.
A creation of ribboned steel, it split the sky as an arrowhead, coiling round itself in powerful shimmers of glass brilliance. It was a thing of potential both expressed and made ready, the promise and the fulfillment one.
Gail Wynand said nothing to the receptionist, nor the elevator man. He simply stood in the center of the vestibule and craned his head up. When he had ascertained that there was nothing left to see, he strode to the elevator. The cage lifted him fifteen, thirty, fifty, seventy stories. He closed his eyes, and in the upwards motion of the vehicle he relived not his own rise, but the memory of a rise that could have been—a straight, unencumbered path towards an apex of freedom.
When he stepped out on the top floor, his eyes were open. Walls of brushed glass opened on his sight—glass like his penthouse and unlike, for although no soul could have risen high enough to see in, the glass was tinted to protect its inhabitants from the city's eyes.
He felt a thought beginning to make itself present at the cusp of his consciousness, and let it sink back down as he had let all of them sink before. He walked loosely, hands bared at sides, as he used to walk in his gallery.
From the center of the floor radiated a series of rooms. The door to one of these opened now, and he beheld Howard Roark with Dominique. Roark did not hold the door for her; they stepped out together right into Gail Wynand's line of sight.
They had not been talking, but the quality of their silence changed when they saw him.
He would not speak first.
"Mr. Wynand." Dominique inclined her head, gracious in an unforgiving manner. It was impossible not to see that he had transformed their silence of reverence to one of absence. Her eyes refused to flicker downwards.
He nodded stiffly back, dreading the part of Roark's lips and clenching his teeth when it came.
"Dominique and I were just leaving after a consultation regarding the plumbing." His voice still had its edge, its workman tones belying sublime artistry. "We were not expecting you, Mr. Wynand."
"Nor I you, Mr. Roark."
He waited for the polite excuse to leave. It did not come. Instead, Roark turned to a small elevator on the opposite wall, noticeably rougher than the main one.
"Would you like to see the roof?"
"Why should I, Mr. Roark?"
"I thought you might like to see the city from its highest point."
Not a flicker of amusement crossed Roark's face, and yet Gail Wynand felt his lips echo the unseen upward tug.
"You're right. I would like that."
Tangles of buildings crawled below. Mad New York and its offshoots of wind-whipped hotels, offices, boutiques. Other skyscrapers guttered like fallen stars beneath the might of the Wynand Building.
Gail Wynand, at the thin rail that separated the balcony of the roof from the starving air, thought for the briefest of moments that he might have loved this city. It seemed possible just then, with Roark standing next to him and Dominique on his other side.
It passed, and he was left with only the onus of a great, unspoken sense of something lesser than gratitude, closer than appreciation. "It's the best of the last." The words came slowly, and not easily. He remembered a newspaper, a yacht, a statue.
"It's been a pleasure to build." For a moment Roark seemed about to say something more.
Then the silence settled, and Gail Wynand turned around towards the little elevator.
"Gail," uttered Dominique softly, and he understood she was speaking for both.
He lowered his hat and entered the elevator. Turning around, he saw Dominique and Roark facing him, backs to the rail, so implicitly trusting of the city to catch them if they fell, so unlike him—and then the doors closed.
Me and my need for closure… Thanks for reading and please leave your thoughts.