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Life Signs

I felt the wind whip my platinum blonde hair away from my house. It fanned behind me probably contrasting with the color of the night sky. The metal bar was freezing on my bare fingers; it reminded me that my nerves were still working. I was still alive. I heard the cars rush below me, sirens, horns, the spin of tires, and rubber meeting wet pavement. They were right when they said the city never slept. I normally would be sleeping at this hour, I guess I would be sleeping soon too. Soon the wind would be whipping against me faster than any wind I’d known. Soon the noises would be just one big blur. Soon the freezing metal on my hands would no longer be so cold. Soon it all would end.

It was all just a jump away.

Forgetting it all would be easy now. Everything that haunted me would be easy to forget now. It started with my childhood. The father that left my mother and family. We had nothing. Being left on the streets after my mother didn’t have a penny to her name to support her children. Hearing gun fights every night as I tired sleep under the overpass. Seeing people who had everything sneer at me for being helpless. Finally, when I could turn it around, all I got was beaten down. I came to the conclusion that maybe I wasn’t meant to put the extra effort out any more. It was my choice. My choice was that I was tired. Tired of being put off to the side, tired of being treated like dirt, tired of having it be obvious that nobody cared. Nobody ever would care. Nobody ever cared before, so what is the reason for them to start caring now? I was empty. I was nothing.

I began pushing myself atop the metal bar. Yes, this bar was meant to stop people from falling off the top of the building because of the winds. Or perhaps it was to stop people from doing exactly this. I sat on top of the bar, I wasn’t sure what I was waiting for. This was is it.

“Don’t do it,” the voice said before.

Now my hands gripped the bar, the voice startling me. I should have just jumped.

“Why do you want to jump? Sure, it’s a fast way down. Much easier than taking the stairs, and not as boring as the elevator music, but isn’t it a bit extreme?”

I ignored the voice.

“You don’t want to jump.” The voice was close to me now, I could feel the speaker’s breath coming out with every word. “Just come here, back over the bar.”

I gave into the curiosity of knowing who was speaking, I looked over my shoulder. The one person who hadn’t left me in my life was reaching out for my hand. Somehow I could tell his features even in the dark, John, his shaggy brown hair that was always was messy and his scruffy beard that he was growing out stood out against his white skin. “John…” I said in a voice that was barely audible for even me.

“C’mon now, Betsy,” he said reaching out for me just a little bit more.

“No,” I said still sternly.

“I’m not going to watch you fall to your death.”

“Then leave.”

“No. Get off the bar. Just come here,” he had his arms open.

“That isn’t what I want.”

“Bets, you haven’t known what you have wanted for two years. Just come here,” John said again.
I looked down, the cars still rushing, the lights making a blurring streak, the rubber meeting wet pavement, the sound of a metal trash can hitting the concrete, and sound off the horns and sirens. The city was still alive. It always will be. These were signs of life here.

I nodded, knowing that now I was just going to agree with him. I didn’t know what I wanted.
The next thing I felt was John’s arms around me, lifting me into his arms. John carried me down the flights of stairs from the roof access door. I rested my head against his chest. His heartbeat seemed comforting. The perfect thump, always on time, another sign of life. His shirt was soon soaked with my tears.

“Seeing you there scared me, Bets,” he told me as we got into his apartment and sat me down on his bed.

“Sorry…” I murmured, now clutching the blanket he put around me.

“Don’t do that again,” John said to me.

“Okay. Just give me some sort of life sign… let me know there is a reason to still be here.”

“I will, I promise,” John squeezed my hand.



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