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The Last Step
The guy plopped a pre-made meal into the microwave, putting the metal spoon he had been holding in his mouth. When he looked up at me, his dark hair standing up in spikes, I gulped and looked down at my three-day old jeans.
"So what's your big plan?" He asked, leaning his body against the small apartment kitchen counter. His jeans were streaked with grease and he wore a t-shirt worn and faded, the original color questionable. He looked like he belonged in a garage, which is probably where he worked.
"Well, I ran away from home, and am going to New York to jump off the Empire State Building."
He had pulled the meal tray out of the microwave and begun taking a bite from it, when I said this, making him freeze. Spoon hanging in mid air.
Moving again he stuffed the spoon in his mouth and chewed a moment before asking,
“Are you serious?"
With my black covered eyes, combat boots, and baggy, torn clothing, I thought this was a pretty dumb question. Did I look like a joker?
When he saw I was serious he said, "That's the dumbest plan I've ever heard!" Laughing and turning to place his meal on the counter for a second.
I have to admit I was surprised. I was expecting pity, shock, maybe even a heated conversation about why I shouldn't commit suicide. I had not expected to be laughed at.
"What the f*** is wrong with that?" I asked angrily.
The guy, who's name I had yet to learn, pointed his spoon at the dog awake and watching us in the corner of the room. It was some snow dog breed.
"Please keep the language down, we have young ears here."
He grinned a grin that would've melted any other girl's heart.
"Whatever." I mumbled.
"Look all I'm saying," He began, "Is if your trying to prove something or make a difference somehow in this world, you might want to rethink your strategy."
Now I was officially annoyed, "I just don't want to be living in such a f–" I paused as he looked at the dog and dragged his eyes back to me, smiling.
"Such a stupid world." I finished. "I hate my life."
"Then why not end it now? Why such a dramatic exit?" He said totally unfazed by the fact he was asking me why not to commit suicide now, in his kitchen, in front of his G-rated dog.
I was taken by surprise again, and stuttered out something intelligent like, "Uh..."
He smiled and plopped his now empty dinner tray into the trash can.
"Come with me." He said.
I got up reluctantly and watched the dog sprint ahead of us, as he lead me through the corridors and levels of the apartment complex, until we were on the roof.
The view was amazing, but I could only focus on the drop from the roof to the ground.
When I looked at him, he was watching me.
"Go ahead. Jump. What difference does it make in the end anyway?" He said, nodding his head towards the edge.
It was like he was seeing if I had it in me to take my life, so I found myself moving closer to the edge. Fear gripped my heart, but I kept walking.
Finally I was there and I stepped up onto the concrete ledge. The breeze was blowing up above the city, and it rustled my hair and tickled my face. I knew he was right behind me, I could hear him breathe.
Closing my eyes, I breathed slowly, trying to match mine with his.
As I began to inch my foot closer to that threatening edge, I began desperately wishing someone would stop me.
Anyone, it didn't have to be someone I knew. Just someone who wanted me to keep trying.
Without realizing it, my foot slid off the edge and I lost my balance.
It was then, I felt the horror of that last fatal drop someone takes, before the end.
The last step in their life.
It was in that second that I knew, I didn't want it to end this way. I reached out my hand for help, and for once in my life, someone was there, grabbing hold, and promising never to let me go.
The guy pulled me back onto the roof, as I began shaking and resisting madly the urge to cry. Kneeling beside me, he made me look at him.
"No one can save you from yourself."
He let this sink in before saying, "You have to make the choice. Are you going to give up? Or give it one last shot?"
I looked at my hands, then back up at him, as a few tears slid out of my eyes, despite my resistance.
Then his dumb dog came and licked them from my cheeks, making me smile with annoyance.
The guy stuck out his hand and said, "By the way, I'm Graham."
I shook his hand, then smiled, a real true smile, one you don't plaster on your face, but that comes naturally.
"It's nice to meet you."