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In This Hour
I stepped out of the school building and into the chilly autumn air. The cold night swiftly rose goose bumps upon my arms, and my scarf twirled up behind my body like a slow wave. I tugged at my jacket to enclose and conserve my body heat, pulled a beanie on over my shaggy brown hair and made my way down the street, heading home, with my hands in my jacket pockets in a weak attempt to stay warm.
As I walked, I watched the dark orange sun make its way closer to the earth, causing the daylight to fade little by little. Sunset has always been my favorite time of day; the beauty of it captivated me. It's like the entire day prepares itself for the few minutes of magnificence, each hour getting closer and closer, and then rests for the remainder of the night until the next day so it can shine brightly and beautifully once again. It's like those few brief moments of glory and beauty is all it lives for..or all it has. For that matter, it was all I had.
I caught myself staring at the beautiful, and natural revelation, and looked away quickly, not wanting to loose track of where I was going. I do this often, on more than one occasion I’ve found myself in an unknown territory due to daydreaming while walking, so I looked at my feet instead to prevent this, and concentrated on the familiar concrete sidewalk that I strolled upon everyday.
I turned onto my street and looked up at my house, the lights shone out of the windows warmly, and brightly. My parents were surely inside, sitting at the dinner-table, oblivious to the extremity of the weight in which my heart was burdened with, talking about their day at the office or how much money they saved at the grocery store. Their son was walking home from another detention, cold, and in pain.. but it didn't matter.
By the time I reached the front door I could hear light laughter and conversation inside, surely they had a good day if they were so undaunted by the fact that they hadn't heard from their son at all that day, or had even heard of him. Perhaps they didn't care anymore, and had given up hope. Perhaps they finally saw that it was pointless, and I was a lost cause to their expectations, and that of everyone else. It didn't matter anymore.
I approached the house, and stepped across the threshold and into the warm house, that, for one who wasn't so emotionally distressed, would be inviting and welcoming. I closed the door behind me, shutting out the cold air, and followed the sound of the noise. As I had guessed, my parents were seated at the dinner table, enjoying their conversation, and their meals, quite thoroughly. It wasn't until I sat at the table quietly and shyly that I was acknowledged, and greeted by them.
I ate my dinner quickly, and silently, unwilling to converse with them on any level whatsoever. They would only dig, and find more fallacies and disappointments. It was useless to try to form any kind of relationship with them, because the only relationship they wanted with any child of theirs was one that entailed bringing pride to them, and their name and record... but because I brought them nothing but shame, they cared little for my hearsay or opinions. It was simply a matter of getting me out of the house in one piece with a degree and hopefully a scholarship to college, and their job, as far as they were concerned, was done.
Once I was in my room, I locked the door, and closed my eyes, sliding to the ground upon my knees, my pride broken and my tears ducts open and active. I cried shamelessly, and unwittingly, basking in my own heartbreak, and failure. Why was it so difficult and unbearably hard to meet the needs of everyone? Why was I never sacrificed a slight bit of lenience when I didn't perform exceedingly well, or successfully, even? Why, as I asked myself daily, was it so hard?
I thought back to all of my past mistakes, and relived them. One by one, as each failure let me and my parents down so harshly. Missing the shot in little-league soccer, losing the races in Middle School track, sinking when I tried to swim for the first time, while my older brother swam quickly and beautifully across the pool, without flaw or falter. I was a loser in a competitive society, and I would never make it.
I was a waste of space, because I was nothing but a three-dimensional shadow. So what was the point? Why was I here?
There was no answer... there was only a solution.
With my eyes shut tightly, and my heart pounding, I lifted my head up towards the sky, breathing in the fresh night air, and catching that last bit of wind that I loved so much. Why was I doing this again?
Because I had to.
My parents wanted nothing to do with me, and I didn't either. This was the best thing for us both, and I could only hope for the best of this.
I stood at the edge of the city river bridge, which was at least a fifty foot drop from the bottom of the river. This was the best way to go for me... I had always loved nature, whether or not it loved me. I would enjoy the wind on my face before the air was taken from me, and the taste of night on my skin before all of my senses were ripped away. This was my only solution.
My past flashed before me as my fate stood before my eyes. Growing up with my brother, making mediocre grades, while he exceeded the grade point average level, being a bench-warmer, and the kid to get chosen last in P.E., while he was the star athlete. I had never once had a moment of glory, or hope, and I never would. I wasted space, in my opinion, and there was nothing I could ever do to change that, because it seemed to be my fate.
My eyes opened to the city-night view, and I took in the moment silently, and peacefully. My heavy heart prepared to feel no more.
As my mind comprehended the idea of my intended actions, I heard the muffled sound of a sob to the left of me. My eyes were torn from the sky-line, and I looked to the closest pillar of the bridge. A young girl sat against this pillar, holding herself from falling by the crook of the elbows onto the ledge of the bridge. She cried continuously and uncontrollably, clearly depressed, mortified, and quite willing to take her own life.
At this point, I became ashamed of myself. For all of my selfishness and all of my sorry, pointless tears, I was ashamed. My only concern was suddenly her, and her pain... my trivial heartache was no longer important, because this young girl was in pain, and clearly about to take her life.
I slowly climbed from my diving spot, and approached her cautiously, not wanted to startle her, and cause her to fall from her delicate hold on the bridge.
Through her sobs, once I was close enough to be heard, I touched her shoulder and whispered, to be as reassuring and careful as I possibly could.
“Stop. Come back from there, and please, don't jump.”
She inhaled sharply at the suddenness of my actions, but her body did not jump or falter.
“Why?” she sobbed, looking at me desperately, “Why do you care? What does it matter?”
My grip upon her shoulder tightened slightly, and my eyes watered with fright. I wouldn't know what to do if she jumped, if she let go of her young, valuable life.
“Because, you saved me. Now I want to help you. Let me, please.”
“Leave me alone.” she cried longingly, “I don't even know you! I can't have helped you in any way, so why should you help me?”
My heart skipped a beat at that moment, and I knew that this was my moment..
“Because just before I saw you, I was going to jump too...”