Splintered, scattered, scraped. I want to fly away; but I am just a featherless bird.
I slowly articulate my words into the phone pressed against my ear.
- I know no one cares, but I’m going to kill myself. I just can’t take it anymore. The voices in my head are yelling at me. I want them to stop. I want it all to stop. Please help me.
- I’m here to help. But first, what is your name?
I ignore the operator’s interrogation and continue to talk as the cold wind howls through my short-cropped hair.
- I feel as though my lifeless body is just hanging in the balance, readily waiting for god's hand to push me over the edge.
- Please breathe and take a step back, try to compose yourself. You’re no longer alone, I am listening to you. I understand what you are going through.
- You don’t understand, no one does. How could they? I am just another meaningless grain of solar dust, floating through space and time. You say you are listening but you don't seem to hear me. I just want to fly and jump into the abyss. Free from all of this world’s meaningless restraints. I am sick; too sick to be helped. I don’t even know why I bothered to call. As if someone on the other end of this phone could care more for me in this glimmer of a moment than every person who has dared to cross paths with me.
I take a deep breath before I continue speaking. I ask the operator for her name. I guessed that it was a her by her pitch. She tells me that her name is Cynthia.
- I know a Cynthia.
- Yeah, she was some family friend or something, I can’t really remember exactly who though.
Before I can further explore this newfound knowledge, Cynthia interrupts me.
- It sounds windy where you are. Are you safe?
I glance down at the street 53 stories below me. It’s littered with people who are busy doing their regular chores on this brisk Saturday afternoon. A cab. A lot of cabs actually. There is so much yellow it’s almost as though the sun has moved to the ground. From atop the bright yellow taxis gleam the sun’s rays; hundreds hitting me all at once. After snapping out of my brief illusion, I answer Cynthia’s question.
- Let’s just say that, if I fall now, they’ll be scrapping my remains off the sidewalk with a shovel
I kick my right shoe off. 1...2...3...4...5...almost 6 seconds before my shoe thuds against the hard ground below me. This is it for me.
- I know what you guys say. But it’s all just a bunch of words to you.
- What do you mean by that?
- I mean, are you telling me not to jump off this goddamn building because you want me to survive, or because another dead statistic looks bad on your company records?
- I want you to survive, I really do. Losing you will weigh on my mind for the rest of my life. I have lost people before and I don’t want to add your name to the list.
- So I’m just another name on a list huh? Is that really all I am to you? Some sort of souvenir that you can scratch onto your “should’ve, could’ve, would’ve” note?
- That’s not it, I do-
- Lies! I don’t believe a word of it. As a matter of fact, I called because I wanted you to know that you’ve failed twice now.
- How is that?
- My brother jumped off this same building two years ago today and you couldn’t do anything to help him.
There was a long pause before I continued.
- I couldn’t do anything to help him...
The operator remains quiet for a bit and we both sit in silence, seemingly waiting for some other person to join in on our conversation and fill the growing void of silence between us. - Finally, the operator address me in a calm voice, with no sense of urgency or panic.
- Are you on top of the Johnston Enterprise Tower?
- How did-
- My cousin jumped off that building two years ago to this day.
My heart fell and I wondered who exactly I was talking to. I couldn’t be. It can’t be. I never met my father and only my brother met his fam-, Cynthia cuts through my thoughts like a hot knife through butter.
- I know this might sound crazy, but was your brother named James McArthur?
This tangent only lasted for so long. Who cares if she was some lost relative. In that moment she was nothing but another liar and hypocrite. Her words of love and care mean nothing to me.
- Please stay on the line. Don’t hang up.
- I won’t hang up, but you’re going to sound silly talking to some broken piece of plastic on the other end.
- What do you mean by that?
I stand up. 6 seconds. That’s all it takes. I take a step into the looseness of the air in front of me. The gravity around me sucks me towards the ground. Wind rushes. Hard. People yell and point as my soon to be lifeless corpse falls from the sky above their heads. A phone line goes silent and an operator cries at her desk.
Splintered, scattered, scraped. Finally I fly away, a featherless bird.