Falling off the edge of the world
This challenge has the honor of being a sort of sequel to the very first piece I wrote specifically for this blog, called To Walk Through the Valley of Something or Another. Overall these two works tell the story of a very hard life. In my opinion they are some of the most brutal pieces I have ever written.
The Boy, now grown to The Man, is standing at the top of a 32 story building and in precisely 3.4 minutes is going to leap off the edge. Suicide. Nothing left of The Man except a stain and some bones shattered so fine they might as well be sand. It is night, as he doesn’t want to be seen. He doesn’t want a crowd looking up to him, telling him he has so much to live for while one asshole tells him what is he waiting for jump. This isn’t a cry for attention. This is it, the final moments. The ‘real deal,’ as it were.
The Man is 25, but on the inside he felt that he had lived for over a thousand lifetimes. He was tired. And sick. It’s not that The Man was ill; there was no painful, incurable disease. No, it is more like there’s a darkness eating away at his soul. Like there’s a parasite feasting on his will to get up the next morning and start everything over again and again and again and again and again. He wanted to go to sleep and stay that way.
Staying asleep and death are not the same thing, obviously. For The Man, it wasn’t that he ‘wanted to die’ so much as he ‘wanted to not live.’ And there is a difference between the two, make no mistake. The Man was scared of death. Everyone is. But it’s a cost-benefit analysis: is overcoming that natural anxiety to death stronger than the desire to wake up the next morning? For The Man, the scale had finally tipped.
As The Boy he ran away from home shortly after The Father had died while shoveling the snow, now over 15 years ago. He stayed hidden as long as he could, living in the forest at first, using some of his Boy Scout training in order to survive, picking berries and attempting to trap animals. But he couldn’t stay in the forest long. The Boy was caught trying to steal food from the supermarket and brought back to The Mother. Not long after he placed an anonymous phone call to a social worker, The Mother was abusive to The Boy for everything he had done; for running away and for the day The Father died… He was taken by the social worker a week later.
He has not seen The Mother since.
The Boy was 10 when he was placed into foster care. The Boy was too old for adoption, most families choose to pick a young child, no older than two or three. They want to be able to raise the child from scratch, as if it was actually their own. He was in foster care until he was 18.
The darkness hit The Man shortly after leaving the foster home. He just stopped wanting to do anything. There would be days in which The Man would wake up and just lay there, motionless, just waiting for the next time he could shut himself from the world. He started drinking to numb the pain of living. And it was a pain, or it felt like one. Or maybe it was a lack of pain, when looking inward on himself The Man saw nothing. He felt Nothing. There wasn’t depression or anxiety or anger towards his family, the pain he felt was the pain of nothingness. It was the pain of knowing, for a fact, that he had nothing to truly live for. The pain of pointlessness and obsolescence.
It is cold, on top of the 32nd floor. It is always windy on the tops of tall buildings like that. Wind from the city below hits a high rise and shoots straight up. It is now 30 seconds before The Man is going to jump. He thinks back to his life and wonders what was the point, if any, to his existence. All he can remember in his final moment is pain, sadness and loneliness. Or at least that is what he thinks he should feel. Heaven and Hell also creep up in The Man’s thoughts. He supposes that he is now guaranteed to go to Hell, if it does exist. Oh well, it’s no matter, eternal peace and bliss probably gets boring after the first thousand or two years. At least Hell manages to stay interesting. The Man leaps from the building.
Before the jump, The Man pictured himself majestically swan diving off of the building. He thought it would be beautiful. He hoped that something about himself would be. Beautiful. The reality is not so. The Man is tumbling, tumbling and he can see the sky, ground, sky, ground, sky, ground, sky and The Man knows that noth