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Falling


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I hated work.

I felt like just another nameless face in a plain world, walking the streets of New York with my briefcase and my laptop. Just another person in the millions in our country and the billions in the world. At any moment I could just be wiped off the face of the earth. And no one would notice.

That morning, my briefcase felt a little heavier in my hand. The sky was clear, a gorgeous day in one of the best months of the year. And yet I couldn’t feel it. All I could think of was the impending day, the monotonous nine hours that were coming up closer with every step I took across the dirty, gum-strewn pavement.

Seven o’clock. I took my space in the one of many cubicles on the one of many floors as the one of many employees of the one of many companies stationed in one of the many skyscrapers in the largest city in America. Nothing about my workplace was original—not even the building. There was another one just like it next door, and they had the same boring name.

I logged onto my computer and took a sip from my coffee cup.

Eight thirty. I finished my coffee.

Eight forty-six. I heard a voice come from a cubicle next to me. “What the he—“

A crash echoed throughout our building. It was so loud, louder than anything I’d ever heard before in my life. Everything shook, as if it were an earthquake. My mug rolled over and shattered all over the carpet. The computer monitor tipped over. Everyone in the office rushed to the windows. People started screaming before I could even see what was going on.

“What was that?”

“Was that an airplane?”

“Holy—“ and then innumerous amounts of different choice words.

I was one of the “Holy—“s, struggling to see over the crowd.

There was a rush, all of a sudden, as everyone started to realize what the correct thing to do was. The crowd of people began to push me towards the other end of the office, where the stairs were, the elevator. Anything to get down, get on lower ground, just in case the fire spread. Just in case it wasn’t a freak accident. Just in case it was on purpose.

Almost as quickly as they’d left, people came back.

“The stairs are blocked—“

“There’s no escape—“

I stood at the windows still, dumbfounded. Realization dawned on me, seemingly quicker than it did for the others. We were to die here, in our workplace. We would never see our families again. I would never finish that John Grisham novel. We were done. Finished.

Everyone was talking, crying, screaming; I willed it all just to stop, just to go away—at least let me die in peace—

I hadn’t realized until now that some of the windows had shattered from the impact. I didn’t realize that there was one man, just one, standing directly in front of the gaping hole left where the glass used to be. I turned and watched the silently standing man. Slowly, more and more people turned and noticed what I’d noticed—why couldn’t I remember his name—

He jumped and disappeared from view.

I ran to the window and saw him falling, three seconds that seemed to move in slow motion as he got smaller and smaller, doing a sort of airborne somersault before he grew too small to see.

Bill. That was it. Bill. We’d spoken a few times during our lunch break. He was in his mid-forties, had a family, a wife who was expecting him home for dinner tonight—

Unless this was being televised. She would know, then. She would know that her husband might not be coming home. I shuddered as I made out the news cameras on the ground, cameras all pointing at us. Following Bill as he fell, following the person from three floors above who flew past our windows just fast enough to catch a glimpse at the expression of tranquility on her face, her hair floating around her. People around me were screaming, people on the ground were screaming, but she was not screaming. She had accepted the death that was coming towards her with the pull of gravity.

And in those milliseconds, that one tiny peek at her face, into her life, I wanted the peace she had. I hungered for it. I unconsciously moved closer and closer to the open window until my body was framed in it. It was as if the floor-to-ceiling window had been made for me. I fit perfectly between the beams.

“No—don’t!”


Another woman yelled from behind me. I took one step back, just a small step back. Just one.

She pushed through the crowd and grabbed my arm.

“They’re going to get us. They’re going to send us help. We don’t need to resort to this!”

I could barely hear her. I didn’t care. My eyes never left the ground. I was already halfway to the tranquil state the falling woman had been in. I wanted to die of my own accord, I wanted it to happen quickly, painlessly.

And yet I couldn’t. I was scared. I tilted my head, looked up at the sky. Praying to God, to whoever, that I could. That I could own the last few seconds of my life.

There were so many things I hadn’t done. So many things I had left to do that I could’ve done but had put them off. And now they would be left undone forever.

The same woman was still behind me.

“Here.”

I turned. She was holding out a cell phone for me.

I took it and nodded.

“Thank you.”

I dialed the numbers that I knew, the first phone number I’d ever memorized.

My mom answered on the second ring.

“Oh my God! Are you okay? Please tell me you’re okay. Please—“ She was crying already.

“I love you, Mom.”

More sobs carried through the phone.

“I love you. And Dad. And everyone else. Remember that.”

“What are you going to do? Can you—oh god, are you stuck?”

I didn’t answer, just looked at the ground.

“Is that you, standing in the window? I can see you—oh god. No. Not—“

“I love you, Mom.”

I flipped the phone shut and dropped it behind me, on the carpet.

I looked down.

New York.

I looked forward.

The sky. The open skyline. Everything.

I slipped off my shoes, put them behind me like I’d put down the phone.

I curled my toes along the jagged edge of the window frame. Pain shot up my legs, but I couldn’t feel anything. Not anymore. Not when I knew what I was going to do.

Someone laid a hand on my shoulder. I never knew who it was. It didn’t matter. They gave me the strength to do what I knew I had to do.

I bent at my knees slightly. Just slightly. Leaned forward onto my toes the tiniest bit.

And fell.



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