It's forty degrees outside, but you step out onto the fire escape anyway, standing there a minute in your shirtsleeves and socked feet.
It comforts you to think that the way out of your life could be this bare, this ordinary. A gravity not sudden like a fall, but a jazz of scales descending, story by careful story. The final ladder suspended just out of earth's reach. Like obstinacy. Or hope.
You touch the cold railing, imagine that you are touching the bones of some metal reptile, some species of monster that once crawled over all our walls and has left the zig-zag of its skeleton behind.
Something about the iron feels like backbone, makes the height you live at more credible.
All around you fire escapes just like yours fill the city's vertigo, expose the simplicity of its architecture, bare the soul of these lofty, lonely places that we call home.
What we all have in common is our need to run away.