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You Don’t Go Skydiving MAG
You're on the roof. The apartment building's owned by a Jewish man. When you first moved in, you couldn't figure out how to open the front door with the key they gave you. You fumbled with stiff fingers in the cold. The woman inside at the front desk watched you through the glass door. The man emerged from the elevator. He was handsome and wearing a yarmulke. He opened the front door for you, smiled as you passed him. The smile meant nothing, but you remember it.
You don't know his name.
He told it to you. When you signed your lease, he told it to you. You don't know it.
You're walking to the edge. You step onto the parapet, precarious and swaying, on a tightrope of brick. You look down and the view doesn't make you sick. You can't remember how many floors there are to your apartment building, only that you live on floor three and you've never been on the roof before this. You were invited to the roof once. For a barbecue. You didn't go.
Your mother has just died. That's why you're doing this. No, no. Not because her death has made you sad. You knew that if you flung yourself off a building while she was alive she would be … You never decided what she'd be, exactly, but she'd be some type of unhappy. You're almost certain she would be unhappy. But she's gone now. You're done contemplating and you feel very sure about this.
You throw yourself off the building.
It's more of a tilt, to be precise. You tilt forward until there's nothing under you, and for a moment your body threatens to fall feet-first, which would just be stupid, but then your body lurches forward and you're going headfirst.
You're plummeting down, coat rippling against the icy wind, limbs sprawled. Jorge Borges' voice – you don't know his actual voice, but your imagination's made you one that fits nicely – fills your head, and he's saying something about death being a great relief. He said that once. At least you think he did. In an interview.
The air is icy, and it's the first real thing you've felt in a long time – in years, decades, since you were a child, since before that night ….
No, no. You're no tragic hero, sorry. You don't have one trauma-filled night of your past that haunts you, making you into some sexy enigma. It was just the night you realized that you didn't want to live here after all, in this world, and you'd like to live somewhere else. You were fourteen. You've tried explaining this to people, but they never understood. What happened to trigger such thoughts? they sometimes asked, or, if they didn't ask, you could hear them asking anyway. What happened? What happened? Nothing happened.
Cold air pricks your skin, and you've been falling for so long, suspended in this state of plummeting between the asphalt and the sky. People might be watching, but you can't crane your neck to see: the force of the wind is too strong. You try anyway, and the furthest you get is looking straight down, and it's hard to open your eyes, your eyelids are flapping and you manage to part them a sliver, and the wind is filling you right up, right up, you're a balloon, you're inflated, you're …
Time is so slow, hugging you tight like it doesn't want to release you. You like those arms around you – how did you never notice them before?
Ecstasy fills you.
I've never gone skydiving. The thought flits through your mind. Skydiving sounds nice. At the top of that building, before you tilted off, you thought you had sucked the marrow out of life. Every emotion that could be experienced, you'd felt. Every physical reaction, every event worth living, everything a human being could do – you had done it. But you'd forgotten about skydiving. You hadn't – you hadn't thought about skydiving.
You scream. You push at the air, looking for something to cling to, but the only thing that can catch you is the asphalt, and that's not what you want. You want to stop – stop! You want to go skydiving! How could you die before going skydiving? You're blind with panic, and the ecstasy's gone. The depression, too, but this is worse. You're screaming. The world is a neutral spectator, and you can feel it pausing as it watches, its eyes following you on your unwilling way down. You're screaming.
Gravity scrambles to scoop you up and toss you onto that roof again, and Time gives you all it has, but it's not enough, and you don't go skydiving.