The height of the building from the ground was what Jamie noticed, in the first instance, after climbing onto the roof. His breath was ragged and his face was a sickly pale. Slowly, Jamie began to notice a familiar heaviness growing upon his shoulders which had rooted from the very core of his spine.
Why was he here?
What had finally propelled Jamie to embrace the dark, humiliating thoughts that had stealthily haunted the back of his mind?
Jamie clutched onto the roof’s ledge for support.
“Listen you little s***.” Jamie’s head thrummed with the memory of his father’s roar reverberating across the corridor of the apartment. The lights flickered and his mother’s figure lay, feebly sprawled, upon the laminate flooring.
“If that boy leaves this house again… I’ll make sure your pretty little face doesn’t see the light of day”.
The shaking of his mother’s shoulders was the only protest she had left to give him. His father’s anger seemed to seep away from his face and he crouched, with great concern, by his wife’s body. His fat, yellow fingers, slowly, stroked the woman’s slick, blonde hair. “Darling, why don’t you go and bring me some wine. Don’t make a fuss now”. In the darkness, it was impossible for Jamie to make out the strands of hair left in his father’s hand, after he’d pulled his mother’s head back and slammed it into the floor.
Agony consumed Jamie’s abdomen, and the boy cried out, falling onto the concrete of the roof, his every fibre refusing the pain of the memories. The more he thought about it, the clearer the memory became. Jamie’s body repelled the torture of remembering how he had stood there, observing the entire spectacle, from the doorway unable to move, unable to speak.
He remembered the days, weeks and months that had passed after. He remembered the proliferation of his mother’s bruises, the deepening bags beneath her eyes, his mother’s growing anxiety, and the red, raw, angry scars that had multiplied along her forearm. His mother’s silent cries for help. Jamie had perceived the ways in which his mother had changed and, every time, he detested himself a little bit more for his submission to his childish fears, that suppressed his will to reach out to her.
The tears finally came gushing as Jamie fell onto his arms, the torment numbing the sensation in his legs.
“Aaaaargh!” Jamie’s hands shot to his head and his body curled in.
His father had reeked of urine laced alcohol that morning. His blue shirt was stained bright red and he stood on the top of the staircase in the tower block, Jamie’s mother cowering before him. Her hand was clutched, weakly, at her hip, previously a victim to the blow of her husband’s leather belt. Shards of glass and broken china decorated the ground of the house, but Jamie’s attention was stolen by the way in which the weight of the steel baseball bat dragged down his father’s arm.
Rage gorged Jaimie’s father’s eyes but his wild howls had long since silenced. With a grunt, the man raised the instrument above his shoulders. Jamie’s fear was great enough to stop his heart. In a moment hatred overpowered Jamie and he lurched forward in between the two, to shove his father back from his mother. For a moment, Jamie struggled under the man’s resistance and, for a few seconds, his limbs released the force. His body lurched back.
The pressure in the wind had changed. Before Jamie could gasp- before he could turn- a chill ran down his neck. The thump of the body against the steps was, almost, inaudible.
Shards of glass stuck out, awkwardly, from the figure’s neck. Blood pooled from behind her head. The impact had been too great and Jamie’s mother had fallen.
Jamie gasped, helplessly, for breath now, just as he had when he dragged himself up the green spiral steps leading to the roof. The memories of his crimes had kept coming once he understood his mother had taken her last breath and, every second, they tore each fibre of muscles in his limbs.
Jamie heaved himself upright. He noticed the beauty of the scene below him. Thousands of lights glittered from individual houses amidst the dark, naked night. The agony in Jamie’s body and mind forced bile into his throat.
That was when Jamie finally understood that jumping was the only solution he possessed- not to die- but as a coping mechanism for the pain.