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It was raining.
That was the first thing I registered when I jolted awake. I glanced at the glowing numbers on the clock. 3:28 a.m. I shoved my face back in the pillow and groaned. Damn, it was way too early to be doing anything productive. I almost forgot why I woke up when the phone rang again. I slowly pushed myself out of bed and stumbled to the wall phone on the opposite wall of my bedroom.
“Hello?” I sleepily mumbled into phone, expecting a telemarketer. I got ready to hang up the phone, just in case.
“Natalie?” A voice sobbed. I could hear heavy breathing on the other line.
I nearly dropped the phone in surprise. It was Breanna Faden, my best friend and roommate of three years. All I could hear was her frantic breathing and faint traffic behind her crying.
“Breanna? Are you okay? Breanna? Breanna?!” I frantically ran my fingers through my hair. “Breanna?”
“I’m on the rooftop. I…I need to talk to you…about…the police are…” She trailed off and there was a long silence. The sound of crying and rain cut off.
I yelled her name to the dial tone, like she could hear. “Oh god, oh god…” I flew around the room grabbing my keys, slipping on a coat and jerking on a pair of boots.
I ran out the door and slammed the door behind me, not caring about how many people I just woke up. I pushed the button to the elevator and waited for it to arrive. I sighed when it went down past my floor. I quickly turned and started sprinting up the stairs.
I arrived at the top floor the same time the elevator did. With a ‘ding’, the
elevator doors opened to reveal three policemen in full-on SWAT gear and guns drawn. I froze right in front of them. One of them stepped forward.
“Ma’am, you’re not allowed to be here. Please return to your apartment.” The man said in a commanding tone of voice and he pointed back down the stairs. I glared at him and crossed my arms..
“Is Breanna here?” I asked. They glanced at each other. “Is Breanna here?!” I yelled. “Where is she?” I felt the oncoming tears gather in my eyes. They started heading up the stairs and they motioned to me. I silently followed them, fearful of what could be up there.
We came to the rooftop and we were blinded by a helicopter light. The sound of the helicopter blades drowned out every other noise, including my own thoughts. I put one hand in front of my eyes and another on my right ear and quickly scanned the rooftop.
“Is that her?” The first policemen pointed to a form sitting on the edge of the rooftop. I squinted my eyes to see if it was.
I gasped and nodded. She sat with her head tilted up; drinking in the rain, her red hair, usually wild and curly, hung limp around her face and her phone was grasped in her hand.
“Yes.” I sniffed and nodded. I lowered my hands
The policeman nodded to his companions and they started going towards her with guns up. I ran in front of them. “No!” I said with my arms out. They stopped immediately and glared at me. After a moment of silence, one of them spoke up.
“Ma’am, please step aside. You should be in your apartment right now.” The policeman gestured down the stairs with his gun.
I glared at him, “She called me and told me she wanted to talk to me!” I turned and stormed towards Breanna, leaving behind three very bewildered policemen.
I walked up to the edge and threw my hands up in frustration. “Men!” I sighed.
She was silent for a few seconds. “Tell me about it.” Breanna said slowly with the faintest smile crossing her face.
“Well, I’m here.” I said cautiously. “What did you want to talk about?” I put my hand on her shoulder. She jerked it away.
“Umm…I guess you’re wondering why I’m up here.” She chuckled nervously.
I looked out at the skyline. “Why? Breanna, you have everything. A loving family, a steady job, people who care about you…why this?” I propped my chin in my hand.
“You thought I had it easy. Think of it like the domino effect. One domino goes down, then another, then another, until…” She paused, and then suddenly flung her phone in the air. We watched it spiral down to earth before smashing against the sidewalk. “Until that happens.” She sighed.
I paused, scared of what she could do. “What happened?” I was almost afraid to ask. I didn’t want to provoke her and have her jump.
“I have…I have cancer. And…” She started sobbing.
“Did that start the dominoes?” I put my hand on hers.
“Yep.” She whispered through her tears. “Brad broke up with me because I had ‘baggage’. My family is disappointed they have to take care of me and they won’t say it, but I know.” She started wailing. “And I got laid off! I was the hardest-working employee and they just threw me away!” She screamed and grabbed her hair in fury. “I have to do this, Natalie! I have to! It’s the only way to escape all this! There’s no other way!”
“Breanna.” I started to tear up. “You don’t have to do this! I can help! Just let me!” A hand grabbed my upper arm and I looked behind me. The police man was shaking his head at me. He started pulling on my arm.
“No.” I shook my head and realized the horrible truth. “No!” I screamed.
“Please. Let us do our job.” He pleaded. I and he started dragging me away. I furiously clawed at his hand. His grip tightened. “Ma’am, you’ve done your part.” He spat out through gritted teeth.
“No! I can help her! Just give me a chance!” I faced Breanna who was beginning to stand up the ledge. “Look at her! Not me! Breanna!” I screamed. I screamed with all my heart and lungs. My tears mixed with the falling rain, making it impossible to tell which was which. I screamed and screamed. “Breanna! Stop!”
She faced me and the two guns pointed at her.
“I’ll never forget you. I remember everyone who leaves.” I could barely hear her over my own screaming and the helicopter blades. She turned around and I lunged forward, trying to pull her back.
“Friends stick together, Breanna! You told me that! Friends are forever! I’m not leaving! You are! Breanna!” I grabbed at the air around her. My throat started to become sore.
In the helicopter light, she was surrounded by a halo of light, like the angel she truly was. The world went strangely silent. “Breanna.” I whispered. I sank to my knees.
She took one single step.