The metal right under his thighs has finally cooled off, and sitting on the fire escape is not so uncomfortable for Charlie anymore. It burned a little at first, it always does, but he is used to it and it is so worth it. It is worth watching the neighborhood come alive in the bright, Saturday sun; shopkeepers bringing their goods out to the sidewalk, girls hollering at the boys, boys hollering back, and the dads, uncles and cousins playing basketball in the fenced in court.
Dad worries about Charlie sometimes, he knows that. He feels a little bad about it as he rests his chin on the rail, the one that is still hot but not so much to make him care. He doesn’t feel too bad though. He knows dad just wants him to get out and play with the other kids. He even does sometimes, and it is fun. They are nice to him and he is nice back. He may not talk a lot but he is not shy. People like him in fact. The old ladies at church call him “charming,” and unlike the other boys he does not roll his eyes. He is flattered.
It is weird, he cannot explain it to dad, and mom pretends to get it enough that he does not bother trying with her, but some how he feels like he is more connected to them all this way. He watches for a long time and then, after a while he occasionally closes his eyes and just lets himself feel them, their energy and their lives, and can imagine being them. He wonders about their concerns. He wonders what he can do about them, or if he should. Charlie wonders a lot about how to help people, even if he is not down with them overmuch.
“Come down and play” one of the girls calls up to him. He will, in a little while. For now though he just sits above it all and watches. He watches and learns and loves and in the back of his brain he is still wondering. The beginnings of big dreams are taking root in his head, even if he does not know it. He feels them a little more and opens his eyes before getting up to grab his soccer ball.