May 20, 2008
By Tiera Greene, Marietta, GA

The cold air hit her face like a slap as she opened the door. She blinked, then quickly recovered and kept walking. She didn’t look back when the thick door swung closed with a heavy thud, nor did she look back when she heard her cell phone vibrating from where she had abandoned it on the top step of the stairwell. She had something to accomplish, and nothing was going to stop her.

The girl walked, feeling oddly satisfied by the feel of her bare feet against the gravel. She smiled slightly to herself--thinking of something that simple at a time like this? Was she crazy?

Angry drivers could be heard honking their horns from below. That was the thing about this city, she thought. There was always too much noise. She’d kill for some quiet. And that’s exactly what she was going to get.

She approached the edge of the roof slowly, shaking her head in an attempt to free long strands of dark brown hair from her eyes. The wind was blowing, making everything seem that much colder. She felt her body temperature start to drop, but she didn’t care. It wasn’t like that mattered, anyway, not with what she was about to do.

The girl stood as close to the edge as possible, almost near enough to curl her toes over it. She stared down at the narrow street, crammed with cars and pedestrians enjoying a late night out in the city. A traffic light changed, and traffic surged ahead. A mob of people crossed the street at the crosswalk. She wondered if any of them would care. Then she laughed. The thought of anyone, not to mention a total stranger, caring for her was ridiculous. No one listens. No one had ever listened. She’d tried telling them that she needed help, but they either didn’t hear her, or didn’t care. Her parents swore on the Bible that it was just a phase; that it would pass in a few months or so. That she could handle it, and that things would be okay.

Well, Mom and Dad, I’m standing on the roof of our apartment building. Does that look okay to you?

She tilted her head up to the sky one last time. It was a dark, beautiful purple-black, and a few stars were visible despite the overwhelming city lights. I wish I could just float away and never come back.

The girl took a deep breath. She inched one foot forward slowly, infinitesimally. And then…

“Hey! Don’t do that!”

The voice came from behind her. She started slightly in surprise and stepped backwards, whirling around to face the person and at the same time wishing she had had the luck to have fallen forward when the voice startled her.

There was a boy there, how long he had been there she did not know, but he didn’t appear to just have arrived. He wasn’t anything extraordinary. In fact, she thought, he rather looks like someone who would deliver pizza to your doorstep. The wind was blowing dirty blond hair around too, and he was close enough for her to see his dark blue eyes. The girl opened and closed her mouth a few times in shock, wondering what on earth he was doing here.

“What were you thinking? Are you trying to kill yourself?!” he exclaimed. She rolled her eyes.

“What do you think?” Then she stepped away him and stood at the precipice of death once more.

Warm arms wrapped themselves around her from behind, gently but firmly pulling her backwards. She would have protested, she would have screamed at him to go away, but he was touching her. Someone was touching her. She hadn’t had contact with another person for what felt like years. And oh, did it feel good.

“Please don’t ever do that again,” the boy pleaded. She could hear his voice in her ear.

“Why not?”

“You have no idea how many people you’d be hurting.”

She snorted and made herself move out of his grasp so she could face him.

“I don’t care! You don’t even know me, how could you possibly know what my life is like? How could you have any idea what I go through each and every day? My life sucks, alright? And yeah, I’m fully aware that I sound like your typical angst-ridden teenager, but trust me. There are people who can handle living, and people who can’t. It’s that simple. I just happen to fall into the second category.” The girl took another deep breath to calm herself once she finished speaking.

“Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a life to end.” She threw the guy one last glance. He was merely looking at her, his expression unreadable. She shook her head and walked to the edge once more. This time, her foot was halfway in the air before the boy intervened.

Suddenly there was an arm yanking her backwards, and she fell to the ground on her backside. The boy stared down at her.

“What the-”

“I know. You may not think I do, but I do.” The boy was speaking quietly, but keeping direct eye contact with her.

“You couldn’t possibly. I wouldn’t wish this feeling on my worst enemy,” the girl replied. She pulled her knees in to her chest and laid her head against her crossed arms. The gravel crunched slightly as the boy sat down next to her.

“You may think you’re alone, and that no one understands you. That the entire world is out to get you, and that every simple task of the day is much too overwhelming. But it’s not. It may seem that way right now, but it’ll pass. Things will get better.”

She raised her head up off of her arms and looked him in the eye.

“Why should I believe you? I just met you,” she stated.

He stared straight back at her, his gaze never wavering from hers.

“Because ten minutes before you got here, I was going to jump too.”

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