Free Falling vs. Falling in Love

May 28, 2008
By Jill Eelman, Princeton, NJ

I imagine his stomach turned as his eyes stole a stare at the city and its hustle below them, like hers did the first time they met—like twenty-seven butterflies trying to break through her stomach’s inner walls.

But I wasn’t there to see him take that first step, so I can’t say if it was instinct or a strong gust of wind that pushed him over the ledge. Regardless, he began to fall.

She had always loved the little things: the way he held her hand in public, with his thumb on top of hers and other fingers wrapped tight like they’d never be apart; his smile that opened up like a rose; memories of their first summer together—roman candles that woke the stars at midnight and the stench of burnt hotdogs on a grill—got her every time.

But I wasn’t there to see her take that first step, so I can’t say if it was love at first sight or her best friend’s influence. Regardless, she began to fall.

He had never felt so good, as good, as he did those first five seconds. The wind ran through his body as he fell through layers of cloud. Blinded by the sunlight, he saw no ending. He was fearless. But as the sun crept behind the buildings and his vision cleared, his life came back into focus. Within a matter of seconds he had given everything and lost all self-control. So he paused to reconsider the jump and he tried to stop, to break the fall.

Her family had warned her: “Don’t ever become dependent on a boy.” She protected her heart like her brothers protected her, but as time continued, their words served less justice. She found herself in his shadow, her name behind her ideals. She hated herself for every tear he shed, regardless of why he wept. And when she realized what she had done—given all of herself, lost all control—she tried to stop, to break the fall.

But it was too late.

His scream was stifled by taxi drivers and cell phones, beggars and policemen. Pedestrians watched his body drop from the sky as they waited to cross onto 9th.

She met with several doctors, friends, ex-lovers—seeking an answer as to how she could forget him. But her tears were veiled, standing in the storm.

Ten feet from the ground, he took one last look and swore to God he’d never jump again—just let him live. And at last glance, he saw her running through the crowds.

She threw herself over his body, softly caressing his face. Her hands awkwardly struggled to recreate something long gone from that moment, but their failure only solidified the fact that change is the only guarantee—and who are we to argue with our only guarantee?

A man with a stretcher came forward and attempted to take the body from the woman but she resisted, slapping the man’s hands. He persisted. The woman screamed and the pain of the world could be heard in her lone wail. Bystanders exchanged glances. Unsure of how to conduct their own actions, they looked to the others for suggestions. Nobody seemed to have any so they simply gazed on as if it were a television drama and they were observing from the comfort of their favorite chair.

She shut her eyes and swore to God she’d never fall in love again—just let her live. But just as he had jumped, fallen—so had she.

She wrapped her thumb on top of his and squeezed so tight, like she’d never leave. She curled up next to him as policemen blocked off his body with Roman Candles and the man across the street shouted “Hotdogs for sale.” And together they lay—broken.

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