Ruby's Goodbye | TeenInk

Ruby's Goodbye

December 25, 2008
By Regina O'Kelley, Seattle, WA

I stood above the scene, watching the crowd gather below. I hadn’t believed she would do it. I merely laughed at her quiet resolve, and wondered what could bring Ruby, the queen of perfection, to this end. Looking back on it all, I wish that I had begged her to step down from the edge. Instead, I told her she’d chicken out; it had seemed so silly that she would throw her life away like that. So silly that it could all go to pieces, on that bright December morning. It was Christmas. We should have been celebrating. We should have been opening presents with Mom and Dad. Instead, we were standing on top of a 10 story building.
And what on Earth was I doing here? It seemed so routine at the time, Ruby had said she was going to take a walk. And I had stubbornly insisted that I come along. So there we had stood, me complaining of the cold, and Ruby edging in front of the railing. But why didn’t I believe her? Maybe if I had said “Ruby, we need you, come home!” Ruby would have listened. I would have taken my sister’s hand and we would go have a normal Christmas. But I didn’t. So she stood on the edge of the building, staring down onto the sparkling streets.
“Ruby, what are you doing?” I had asked, “You know you won’t actually jump.”
“And what do you know about me?” she answered quietly. More to the world, than anyone else, I think. “Who in this life or the next really knows me? Like they think they do.” I rolled my eyes at her poetic speech. And I didn’t believe her. I told her she wouldn’t do it. She only looked back at me, smiled and said, “Goodbye”. And all at once, she swan dived off the building. And all at once, she was gone.

I stood there, bitter. Unwilling to believe the nightmare that had spilled out before me like sour milk. A police officer arrived; he carefully took my hand, like I was something fragile, and gently led me to street level. I stumbled into the back seat and was delivered to my doorstep like a lost package. I pushed through confused parents, and tumbled, lifeless, onto my bed. A quiet knock on my door woke me, and the officer that brought me home stepped in. He too, wanted to know why Ruby might have jumped. I stared back at him cynically.
“I don’t know. That’s your job. Isn’t it.”
He sighed, weary. “Well, what can you tell me about your sister?”
“She was perfect.” I said acidly “There was no reason for her to jum-” I choked on my words. Ruby’s suicide was no longer a nightmare I could wakeup from. Finally, the tears I’d held back the entire morning broke free and I sobbed bitterly. And I kept crying. There was no way around it now. My sister was dead, and I was to blame. Why? Why hadn’t I begged her to come home? This is all my fault.

All these years Ruby wore a happy face, unwilling to give up on anything. And now, she had given up on herself. When I couldn’t cry anymore, I looked up and found the officer had left. Exhausted and miserable, I stumbled out into the living room. Mom was crying, and Dad was holding her. The sparkling tree and gifts beneath it had lost their festive cheer. Christmas would no longer be a day of celebration for my family. No, it seemed now it would be a day of remembrance of Ruby’s goodbye. Step by step I crossed the room and joined my family.

The author's comments:
Everybody always wants to know what inspired this story. I honestly don't have an answer, this isn't about me, or anyone else I know. Most of my classmates become concerned about me after reading this, but that's O.K. I would expect no less.

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