BY DAN HEIN
So why don't you just do it?
I sat on the edge of a roof, staring at an empty street below. The street was beautiful at night - a motionless sea of lights, with nothing but the occasional vehicle to disturb its calm sleep.
I shifted around.
You don’t have to suffer anymore, friend.
I had been going up there every night for months, sitting on the edge, silently observing the streets below. The truth is, I never had the intention of jumping until that day.
Certainly, I had considered it before. That's why I started this ritual in the first place. It had been a bad day. I had to lock up that night, so I decided to go up to the roof before I left.
I sat down on the edge and looked down at the street. It was empty.
I felt a sudden urge to just let go. No reason why, really. I just wanted to drop. I inched closer and closer to the edge, not really thinking about anything else - but the more I looked at the empty road below, the less I thought about jumping. I was completely transfixed to the silent beauty of the empty street below me. I couldn't jump; I just sat there, for nearly an hour, before I finally got up and went home.
That was in April. It was in December that I finally seriously considered letting go.
I was miserable. My friend, Paul, had died just a few days earlier from cancer, which he had apparently been battling for years. He had never told me about it, and I hated him for that.
I only just barely got time off to grieve. We had just fired another one of the janitors, and we were short-handed as it were. He only let me off for two days because I begged for it.
I barely left my bed except to eat for those two days. When I went back to work, they expected me to just forget about the whole thing. I couldn't do that. I was making stupid mistakes left and right. I couldn't concentrate. The rest of the janitors understood, but the office workers apparently didn't know or care about my situation. So they treated me like they usually did - they made me feel insignificant.
And why not? I was insignificant, wasn’t I?
So one December night, an insignificant human being sat on the edge of the roof, silently arguing with himself about jumping off to his death.
I didn't really want to do it - but my body kept pushing itself closer and closer to the edge.
It’d be easier.
I didn’t doubt it.
The fall is the worst part, I've been told. The last few seconds of life before you make contact. Beyond the point of no return; it's the only chance you get to regret your decision before you die. If the impact is painless, surely the pain of falling would more than make up for it.
Sometimes I would have visions of the fall. A jump, followed by the terrible screams of the wind rushing past my ears. I flail my limbs around in a desperate attempt to stop the plunge, but there is nothing I can do. The wind shrieks in my ear like an angry spirit as the ground gets ever so closer. My heart is racing like crazy. The surface, which up high seemed so small, is getting larger and larger. What were once merely shapes from the rooftop become cars, light posts, signs. Time seems to slow down. When I hit the ground - a thud, followed by blackness.
I used to be terrified of it. Why didn't it scare me now, when I needed it to?
You can do it.
I couldn’t concentrate on anything. Everything was going black. I felt like I could throw up. The visions were messing with me. I was fidgeting like crazy. I might have fallen off by accident if I hadn’t collapsed backwards onto the roof.
I curled up into a ball and started sobbing. How hard could it have been to simply let go?
It’ll all be over soon.
I looked up at the sky. Pitch black, except for the faint moonlight hidden behind the dark clouds. I swore as I was lying down that I could see the face of God, leering at me from above. It didn't take me long to notice that somebody actually was looking down at me; a man, with shaggy brown hair and a dirty face. I recognized him instantly - it was Paul.
I couldn't move. Paul was looking down at me, with a face that - I can't describe it properly. It was a gentle face; not a smile, but a face that comforted me as I lay down in fear of the fall I hadn't taken. I stared deeply into his face for what seemed like hours, until I finally managed to choke out the words, "What happened to us, Paul?".
Paul merely chuckled. He looked up at the sky for some time, as if contemplating the question. When he looked back at me, his face still had that comforting expression. All he said to me was this:
He works in mysterious ways.
And with that, he bowed his head at me and walked away. I turned to look where he was going, but he had vanished.
I stood up after a while and went back to the edge of the roof. I kept replaying everything in my head - the vision of freefall,the nervous breakdown, Paul's vague words. Was God really protecting me? Or was i just crazy?
I didn't care. For the time being, I was content, and that was all that mattered. I looked down at the empty street below, too busy admiring the beauty of the lights beneath my feet to care about the horror of freefall.