Tuesday, July 19, 2011


It was almost too easy.

In my mind I saw her dancing away, teasingly out of reach, gravity and momentum conspiring to pull her away from my grasp. A hundred simulations showed me that no matter how fast I sprang, no matter how deftly I moved, she would see me coming, and with the slightest of effort elude me.

But I tried, nevertheless, fingers outstretched, determined to reach her, to hold her tight... and I did.

I felt her hair, enervated into flowing tresses by the stiff evening breeze, whipping against my arm. I felt her jacket, her thin cotton top, her bra strap, layers that vociferously demanded distinction as I gripped her shoulder tightly. But there was no time to luxuriate in the senses.

"No, please... you cannot go. Not like this." I wasn't sure I had spoken at all, until she turned to look at me. "What will I... we all do without you?"

She smiled. Her lips were quivering. Perhaps, perhaps I was getting through to her?

"I don't know what I can do for you, personally. But I will try. I promise I will try. If you want my company, I'll be here. If not, I'll go." I tightened my grip, although I knew that the real battle wasn't in simply getting her to stay here physically. I needed to persuade her to remain here with me, with us, and find joy in doing so.

She said certain things, but her feeble voice was no match for the rising wind, and her words drifted away before I could discern them. No matter, I had heard what she had said before. It was not likely that she would have anything new to say, by now.

"I've told you. Step by step. Just one day at a time. We'll try together... people have done it before. Why can't we? If we make it through today, just one more day, wouldn't we... wouldn't we be stronger than we were, yesterday? Doesn't that count?"

At some point my emotions, summoned by the unseen hand of some hormonal gland, had boiled up from the pits of my stomach and mixed themselves into the words I spoke. Tears, those attention-seeking fraternal twins to sadness and longing, were blurring my vision, cramping my style.

I must have said a lot more. I must have. I know I wouldn't have given up so easily. The clear knell of defeat, though, came as swiftly as it did unexpectedly, and it presented itself in the most tranquil and serene look of calm I'd seen on her face since the accident those many months ago.

"I have to go and be with him. He's waiting for me."

This time, when she smiled... it chilled me, to the bones. A trick of the light, perhaps? But there was now no warmth to be seen, nor felt, in her round black eyes. Her lips were properly upturned in a gaunt approximation of her normal toothy grin, but there was now a resolute and grim determination to those curves.

She reached up and placed her icy hands over mine, and shook her head slowly from side to side.

My mistake was in being too late. She had left some time ago, and none of us had recognized it.

My fingers unfurled, one by one, and my hand fell slowly, shamefully, back to my side. She turned back, took a deep breath. Looked up at some far-off point in the sky, seeing something I couldn't see.

And she stepped off the ledge.

It was almost too easy.

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