He placed his foot on the horizontal strut of the fence and lifted himself against the bars. He felt a breeze move past him, but he pulled himself still higher until his form was clinging to little more than thin air. He tossed a look upward and spotted the arm of the statue, but it was far too high for him too reach. He struggled a moment, and then shifted his grip and got a foot between two of the spikes. He paused, the world spinning beneath him, and the air so light around him that he could fall either way with a single shake of balance.
And then, though he hadn’t heard her move, she spoke down to him in a calm voice. “Stand up and reach for the arm.” He looked up, but all he saw was her face. The light from the city played across her skin and her eyes flickered with a sincerity that touched him directly. He felt as if he already knew her.
She sensed a change in his expression, and a thought moved across her face. Her smile was replaced with a soft gaze, and she offered a hand. “Here, grab my hand.”
Damien felt a fear run through his body the moment he pushed with his quads, his calves shook to steady his balance, and his arm passed through the lofty spaces of the sky to reach for his only hope. He felt as if he was balancing on a pinnacle over a gaping abyss, but as soon as his hand fell into hers, he knew he could fly.
He steadied himself with her grip, and then grabbed the bicep of the statue, and pulled himself upward. Her body moved to make room for him, and he clambered on top. And then his stomach stopped swirling and he saw the entire world in a new light.
“It’s beautiful!” he exclaimed.
She only smiled and pulled her knees close.
Damien suddenly felt a jolt of anxiety at being in her presence, but his heart burned through it with excitement.
“Is this a favorite place of yours?” he asked.
She smiled. “I only discovered it tonight,” she said. “I’ve been in the city for two days now. Spent the first two downtown. The night life here can get a bit too exciting after a while though. So I thought I’d do something different tonight. And,” she turned to lay her eyes on his face, “I thought this location would be a fun place to explore.”
He turned to meet her gaze. “Yeah, there’s no better place. It’s magical up here. I saw the tower from the canal.”
She smiled and then Damien watched in wonder as her face lit with excitement. “The tower,” she breathed. “You wanna go check it out?”
Damien gasped, and turned to lay his eyes on the tall stone monument. Now that the sun had gone down, it looked far more sinister and intimidating than before. “Hmm,” he said. “That would be quite the adventure.” He realized how doubtful his voice sounded, so he turned back to her and let his excitement burst forth. “Yeah! Let’s climb it!”
She laughed, and then lifted her legs to place her feet on the statue’s other arm. She rose then with perfect balance and walked out on the arm like a cat on a tree limb. She looked back at him, noticed his expression, and laughed. She bent down to put her hands on her knees, and then gave him an amused look. “You can take the easy way if you want,” she teased. And then she shook her head as if flattered. “You’re watching me as if I’m flying!” She turned then and ran nimbly to the open hand of the statue. “See?” she said. “I’ve got the hand of this.”
Damien shook his head in amazement at her ridiculous pun, and then crawled carefully over the head of the statue.
Then his eyes got a frightening motion, and he looked up in time to watch her launch from the open hand into the air. His eyes widened with shock, and then his mouth opened in wonder as she completed a somersault and landed lightly in the grass at the base of the statue. She turned to look back up at him, tossing a strand of lose hair over her head. “Well,” she said, “Pick your route down.”
“Right,” Damien laughed, “I was contemplating the face plant, but the front flip does look appealing.”
He inched his way along the shoulder to where a patch of grass was open for him. And then he bit his lip and jumped. He landed with a rush, and the rich grass caught him in soft arms, where he rolled once, and then climbed to his feet. “That wasn’t bad,” he said, brushing himself off. “I felt like I was flying. ‘Till I hit the ground of course.”
She laughed, and then took a step close. He went silent, and his eyes sought hers. But she looked aside and put out a hand. “I should introduce myself,” she said.
“Of course,” Damien said, taking her hand.
“I’m Hollie,” she said. “It is a fine thing to have a companion on such a night. So what may I call you good sir?”
Damien smiled and nodded his head in a respectable manner. “Dear Hollie,” he replied in his best gentleman’s voice. “You may call me Damien.” He raised her hand to his lips, but neither could contain their laughter, and his lips did not reach her hand.
And then, all at once, Hollie was gone with swift feet through the garden. Damien was at first disappointed, but then excited as he began to chase her.