My pale and long fingered hand gently took the withered and dying rose out of its vase. I clutched it to my chest. I was sitting, broken, on the floor. My tears rolled slowly down my face and splattered on the hardwood floor. I stared blankly at the torn, frayed, and tear soaked pictures scattered across the floor. Pictures of Him. Him with Her. I picked up the last one and stared at it; his handsome face turned up in that gorgeous smile, his hair blowing gently, his amazing body shielded from the cold in a heavy brown jacket. It would have been a beautiful picture, if his arms weren't around her. Her. The woman who ruined my life. Yeah, she was pretty, much more than myself, I thought. They were a good looking couple and the picture looked Hallmark-like; both of their gorgeous faces framed by the New Hampshire snow. I felt a new rush of tears; they stained, yet another, picture. I balanced the rose on my knee, and, with practiced fingers, tore Her out of the picture. I held the side with Him and stared into his eyes before letting both sides fall to the floor.
He doesn’t want me. He doesn’t want me. He doesn’t want me. Those four words echoed in my head. It was worse than the fact he didn't love me. He didn't even want me. How far did that thought extend to? He didn't want me...He didn't need me...? He didn't care about me...? They were all lies. Every sweet word he ever said to me was just a set up.
"I love you."
"I love you, too"
"Do me a favor?"
"Say it again?"
"I love you."
"God, I missed hearing that.
If he lied about all that, than how much of a stretch was it to believe that he lied every time he said "I love you" before we broke up? That thought made my decision. It was too much to even comprehend. Too much to even try. The fact that every kiss, every touch, every word was a lie... I couldn't think anymore. I could only act. I raced out the door without locking it, without shoes on. I knew exactly where I was heading, exactly where this would all end…
I stood on the edge, not only metaphorically anymore. My bare toes clutched the rough concrete lip; the wind blew my hair around my shoulder. My hands went up into the air, swaying to the music that never stopped playing in my head.
"With every appearance by you, blinding my eyes, I can hardly remember the last time I felt like I do; you’re an angel disguised..."
My lips moved, mouthed the words. He never knew what he actually did to me, how much every word he said meant; how every action put a crack in my heart. Even now, feeling freer than ever, about to lose everything but gain peace, I couldn't put the feeling into words. Hate, Pain, Suffering, Bliss, Timidness, Utter Confusion, Adoration. None of those words even came close. The wind whipped around, sending good bumps up my arms, I tried not to shake.
"I'm trying real heard not to shake, I'm biting my tongue, but I'm feeling alive and with every breath that I take, I feel like I won."
I was on my own island up here, away from everything. It was like I left my worries in the elevator. I finally opened my eyes and looked down. Funny, I had always been afraid of heights. I cocked my head to the side at the strange but pleasant emptiness I felt. It wasn't The Numb and it wasn't "Emotionless". No, I don't know what it is. I looked around and wondered at how small everything looked. Then I looked up and thought, "How small do I look to God?”. Probably too small to notice, just like I am to everyone else. I knew that if I actually did it, so many people would cry and swoon, pretending they knew me. If they really knew me, I'd have been stopped by now.
As I stood there and swayed, I pondered saying goodbye to anyone. It would be really theatrical of me to call him and let me hear me die as my body met with the concrete, 200 yards below. I knew that would hurt him, though. As much as he hurt me, I'm not spiteful. I guess there's no one to notify. Another thought entered my head right then, a reminder of how many times I had promised him I wouldn’t do this. And even though I promised him these things and I swore them on the most valuable parts of my pathetic life, they still offered me no solstice when it came to the moment of reckoning. When I finally lost all hope of us, when I ran out the door knowing exactly what I was going to do, when I felt the concrete on my bare feet; the promises vanished and all that was left was what will be eternal, empty bliss; the emptiness that my mind searched for by closing out my memories, by making certain parts of my life inaccessible. Though I had told him I’d never seek out the eternal emptiness, I couldn’t persuade myself to believe in those promises while debating whether or not I’ll actually know if, when broken, they will affected him. I cannot tell myself that there will or will not be a place at the bottom of this building. All that I was sure was that there would be emptiness.
I rolled back on my heels and for a split second, I stood, mid step off the edge. No one ever knew how close I really was. I felt the concrete slide off my feet and I was air borne, falling but being lifted at the same time. I felt weightless; mind, body, and soul. I smiled to myself, and it was a real smile. My clothes billowed out from me, like a parachute; Earth's last weak attempt to save me. The last thing I felt was the crack in my skull. I knew I was dead, or very close. My blood stained the road, screams filled the air. I didn't care. Arms at opposite angles, legs crooked backwards, head split open, and back broken. My eyes slowly closed and my smile faded away…
“You're my key to survival. And if it's a hero you want, I can save you. Just stay here. Your whispers are priceless. Your breathe, it is dear. So please stay near.”
I woke up to my mind whispering the rest of the song that never stopped, and then, it all rushed back to me. The pictures. The rose. The promises. The wind. The concrete. The weightlessness. The crack in my skull. I was dead. Anger quickly filled me. Why would they resuscitate me? My injuries should have been much too severe. They shouldn’t have been able to resuscitate me! And then, I opened my eyes.
The first thing I noticed was, well, nothing. It was pitch dark; I couldn’t see anything. My heart beat raced; maybe I was blind, now. I sighed and sat down to calm myself. When my heart slowed, in the silence, I heard the drip, drip, drip of water and the echo of a wind that couldn’t be felt. I slowly stood up and pressed my hands against the wall. The wet, cold and rough surface of rock scratched my skin; that’s when I realized where I was. A cave.
Right as the realization hit me, in the corner of my eye, I saw a light; the dimmed, flashing light of a candle, or a live light of some type. I turned my body towards the light as it slowly and smoothly moved forward. I gulped anxiously as the light started to outline a figure. The figure became more and more defined as the light approached. My breath stopped as it became obvious to what the figure was.
“The Grim Reaper…” somewhere in my mind whispered. The figure was hooded in a black cape that covered his entire body. In his left hand was his scythe. When I finally managed to take my eyes off of him for a second, I looked down to the boat. The light was a wicker lamp attached to the stern of a small, wooden boat. There was no water. The vessel floated on, what looked like, ghosts; smoky figures that reached and grasped with their boney fingers and screaming faces. My eyes widened as I recognized what this was; limbo.
I’ve heard the story, it was my favorite version of the afterlife, but I didn’t expect it to be true! Back when there was no organized religion, people believed that after someone passed, they were approach by the Boat Man, who brought you to the other side, for a price; $0.50. The deceased could only bring two quarters with them to this place, but it wasn’t their choice if they brought them or not, it was up to their family, or whoever buried them. To assure that your loved one made it to the other side and had enough fare for the boat, someone was to place a quarter, face up, on each of your closed eyes before you were buried. I chuckled in my mind and probably gave a smirk as I thought of my grandma. I had told her this lore time and time again; she would have known this was what I wanted.
The Reaper held out his boney right hand, the cape sliding off to reveal the whiteness of his fingers and arm bones. He did not say a word, he just held his hand out for me; I knew what he was expecting. My material clothes didn’t matter, but somehow, I knew the quarters were in my pocket. I reached in and smiled calmly as my fingers touched the cold silver texture. I grasped the coins and extended my hand towards the Reaper’s, dropping the two round items that symbolized my entrance into the afterworld. His fingers closed around the coins and, with the same arm, he made a grand gesture of turning to the side, allowing room for me on the boat. I gently stepped on board and sat on the rickety wooden board that was meant to be a seat. The Reaper stood in front of me as the boat started to move forward, into the next life. I smiled and softly sang the end of the song, hoping he would hear it from this place I was leaving and understand; it was all for him.
“I will share the air I breathe; I'll give you my heart on a string.”