She stretched her lean body back, unwinding her spine, and watched intently as multicolor street lights danced across bodies.
They covered the city excessively with shadows of nighttime children running around, performing mischievous deeds, while the younger ones went off to bed to await the sun.
A popper fired off in the distant, POP! , followed by the terrified screams of its unlucky victim as it plays dead, and the giggles of the sharp and sneaky owner.
One girl red headed in a faded blue sunflower dress, skipped through the streets, toes hitting the pavement with a small thud and hair flying around her head.
The motion caused her to kick up discarded rubber bands, candy wrappers and the occasional small rock. Her worn out dress had patches along the hem, a clear sign that she was a Birdie and that she probably hadn’t had a real bed in days.
Her eyes, round and dark with tiny scratches on her cheek, were watchful for any shadows welding poppers; stray feet set deliberately in her path and any other nighttime tricks.
Over her shoulder a giant stood, creeping forward to try to touch her. It’s large gray and rectangular shape was decorated by the Artists and the Originals; the sides were colored naturally with flashes of paint and delicate crayon drawings of the predecessors.
These buildings were always curved in the Inner Piper City, nowhere else could you walk into the sky and just almost feel the stars. The rooftops, here, were just another playground too high for most.
In the middle of the night some of the larger children, those whose dusting would happen soon, would jump and climb a top of these giants, like knights. Howling, screaming, screeching and reliving their final moments of youth and freedom.
Battling against one another for the throne, they would sometimes fall off the roof; the smallest building was 24 feet high.
Laughing when they hit the ground, they brushed themselves off and climbed back up. Sometimes, with their bodies turned up, they would dance and sit and sing and talk, their forms shining bright against alleyways and closed doors
. They would bathe in the moonlight, and would gaze skywards into the dark abyss of the sky, raise their arms and simply stand and breathe the nighttime coolness.
She remembered the time she was one of those children, back then she was always doing Big Kid stuff although she just came to the city.
She remembered times she would push her competitors off the roof and thus be pushed off herself. Those were the times she remembered the most. Times that seemed so far away now with the knowledge that one day she will forget it all.
How the youthful do not die, she said silently. She was no older than most of these children but she had seen many things and read about even more.
Why is it that they simply grow older until they eventually dust, bodies turn into the ashes that drift and soar in the breeze?
It was almost sad that most of the time they ended up as dirt or house dust. Some unlucky ones drift far away from their homes and get stuck upon the faces of lazy children. Hey, at least they were free.
She stood on a crumbled wall, dressed in the rustic clothes of the Inner Piper City, watching the world pass by her. Observing.
Her kinky copper hair was set in thick spiraling waves, sticking off from her head like rustled leaves on a tree. Her sharp dark-brown eyes were flickering back and forth, scanning everyone accordingly. She slowly moved her body from the scene, turned and walked away.
Once again a popper sounded, once again another child patched, alone and wandering, skipped down the path, and once again a group of older children whispered their midnight roof plans in the shadows, who planned always be free.
Up until the day they dust.