“You’ll never catch me.” I shouted back with a smile as I ran up the wall, grabbing onto the fire escape ladder, and pulled myself up.
“Come on,” The reporter called after me. “I just want to talk to you for a few minutes.”
I was climbing up the stairs, at the 2nd floor of the six story apartment building. “If you can catch me, then maybe I will talk.” I was in very good shape, so talking while I climbed quick paced up the stairs was not difficult.
“But I can’t climb that with this camera, please?” He pleaded after me.
I was climbing over the wall of the rooftop, “Well sorry.” I looked down over the edge of the wall at him, smiled and held out a peace sign, and turned around to face the rooftop. I was instantly taken back at what I saw. There was a young girl, 19 years old, wearing blue jeans and a black t shirt. Her hair was bright blond and pulled back in a messy pony tail. She was thin, like she had not been feeding herself. I wish I could say she was sitting in a lawn chair spying on the neighbors across the street with a telescope. But no, she was standing on the ledge of the building looking down at the road, getting ready to jump.
I wasn’t sure right away what I should do, I was so caught off guard. A word came out of my mouth, soft, but loud enough for her to hear, “Hey…”
She turned her head slowly to face me. Her eyes were swollen red with tears, her left eye bruised from being punched. Her mouth relaxed submissively, her red lips slightly parted from one another. She sighed, then turned back to face the cement beneath her. It was in the middle of the day, why was no one trying to help her?
I slowly took two steps forward, decreasing the 11 steps that separated us to 9 steps. “Honey, please, think about what you’re doing. What about your family?” My voice was louder, more stern. My mother instances came out as I imagined she was my 9 year old daughter.
Her voice was frail,you could hear in her voice that she had completely given up. “My family will understand…”
I took two more slow steps toward her, “No, they won’t. Please, let me talk to you, let me help you.”
She didn’t move her gaze from the ground, “You can’t help me, no one can help me, this is the only way to escape the pain.”
“No, it’s not, listen to me. Look, I don’t know how you feel, I have never been where you are, but please, let me try to understand, give me a chance.” Two more steps, only five to go. Three more steps and I could reach her.
“Please, don’t bother, I made up my mind already, I have thought this through.” Her tone was getting more desperate.
I heard a woman from the street shout, “Look up there!”
Thank you, I thought, now they would call for help. I took one more step, “Look, this isn’t the answer, I know there are things you haven’t tried yet, you can get help, please.” Tears were forming in my eyes, and I was beginning to choke on the ones I was holding back.
She turned her head to look at me, my arms were up, reaching out to her. She twisted her body to face me more, her feet still straight to the edge, she held her hands up, palms facing me, tears fell down her fair cheeks. “Really, I am going, nothing you can say will change my mind.”
I moved my right foot slightly toward her to take another step, “I–”
“Don’t come any closer.” I could see she felt bad about getting me involved with this.
“Please let me–”
“No.” She glanced down again, then back at me, “Goodbye.” And she stepped off.
“No!” I yelled. I jumped toward her, throwing my arms out over the side of the building, reaching my hands out, and yes, I did it, I grabbed her left hand. My stomach slammed against the ledge as her weight pulled me down, my right hand wrapped around her wrist, and my left holding her hand. The small crowd of 7 people, one being the reporter, his camera pointed straight at us, all gasped. One woman screamed and covered her eyes.
The girl looked up at me, tears softly pouring down her face, “Please, let me go.” She spoke soft.
Tears were falling down my face, landing on hers. “No! I can’t do that, I won’t. Please, pull yourself up.”
She was no more then 115 pounds, so it was not to hard to hold her, but I was not strong enough to pull her up myself. She let her hand go limp, I slipped a little but did not let go. “I can’t live anymore, this is the only way, trust me.”
“No, it’s not the only way.” I looked down at the crowd of now 9 people, “don’t just stand there!” I shouted with rage, “Do something!”
“It’s too late.” She looked down at the road, reaching her right hand in her pocket she pulled put a pocket knife and flipped it open. It was sharp. I looked at it and looked back into her eyes. She didn’t want to say the words, but she made herself, “I don’t want to hurt you, please, let go.”
I shook my head violently, shutting my eyes to release the blinding build up of tears. “No! I won’t.”
She moved her arm up with great hesitation in her eyes, she didn’t want to, I could see it, “I’m sorry!” She shouted, tears pouring down as she swung the knife up stabbing it into my forearm with so much force that it went directly between my bones and through the other side.
Against my will, my grip was released, her arm slipped out of my hand, I clutched her hand with my left as tightly as I could, but it wasn’t enough, her fingers slipped through mine, her sad blue eyes never looking away from mine as she fell. Time slowed almost to a stop, it felt like eternity watching her fall closer and closer to the cement below, until, her limp body made contact with the cement.
No words… only tears. I didn’t move. Blood began to drip down my arm, sliding past my hand, and falling beside her. Police cars showed up with an ambulance. Slowly, I pushed myself up, to stand straight, leaving a hand print of blood on the ledge. In a daze, I turned to face the door leading into the apartment. As if I knew where I was going, I walked down the hall, to room 308, put my left hand on the door knob, opened the unlocked door, and walked in.
The apartment was completely packed up in boxes, notes stuck to different boxes saying things like, “This box goes to mom.” And “This box goes to dad.” I was in such a daze that I didn’t recognize the trail of blood I was leaving on her freshly mopped, hard wood floors. I walked to the center of the open front room, and found, sitting on a small glass table was a thick, black journal, with a note stuck to the cover that said, “Read this, and you will understand.”