The International Writers Magazine: Dreamscapes
Marty's shoelaces dangled, swinging in the wind. He had worn his Converse trainers to work that day; they looked entirely out of place in his shirt and tie ensemble, but it hardly mattered. He might be remembered as a fashion maverick.
MAN FALLS 27 STORIES TO HIS DEATH. BLOODY MESS IN BUSY HIGH STREET. INNOVATIVE WARDROBE.
He looked down at the people milling around in the streets, bathed in darkness. The sunlight was blocked by skyscrapers in every direction, while Marty experienced a stark contrast. He felt the full effect of the sun's rays on his exposed neck; a soft breeze – absent on the ground below – whistled in his ear and ruffled the loose sleeves of his shirt.
Slowly raising one foot off of the platform and over the edge, he stretched his arms out to the side for balance, as if on a cross. Marty was testing the drop, feeling the weightlessness in one leg before taking the full plunge. If the sole of his shoe could scream, or express concern at all, it no doubt would be at this point. It stared straight down at the concrete several hundred feet below, begging to be placed back on the safety of the ledge.
Marty began to consider his dismount. Even if he had told anyone of his intentions, there's nobody who could give him advice. Maybe in the afterlife he'll be sorted with all of the other pavement-faces, and there will be plenty of time for regret then.
“I wish I'd done a backwards step,” one might say, absent-mindedly fingering the mortal gash running down his cheek and neck.
“Nah, mine was unbeatable. Three-sixty spin into a knee-tuck. Wish someone had seen it...” says another.
Marty chuckled to himself at the thought of performing amateur acrobatics while jumping off the summit of his workplace. They'll probably have to send out a firmly worded memo, just in case it catches on.
He crouched down carefully and eased himself onto his ass, with his legs dangling over the edge. The soft breeze was beginning to pick up, and Marty would hate to be swept away prematurely. He wasn't ready just yet, he would be, but not quite yet. And anyway, he thought, a sitting dismount might be the way to go.
“No, Mom, I don't have to remind Dad your birthday's coming up. Because he knows. No, you just assume everybody is as selfish as you are. Because it's tr-” she stopped mid-sentence; the sound of her mother ranting down the phone blared in Sally's ear. She caught words like 'ungrateful' and 'you little', but the full meaning was lost entirely. Her lips were frozen, poised to form a vowel sound that never came. She blinked, squinted and then her mouth began to work again.
“Jesus Christ. I have to go.” she said, hanging up without waiting for a reply.
Her eyes had been wandering throughout the phone call, desperately trying to find something to distract herself from the inanity that comes from a conversation with her mother. After finding a more than worthy distraction, Sally decided that another half an hour on the phone might have been less horrifying.
She had been looking out of the window of her studio apartment, which had magnificent views of absolutely nothing. That is, except for a giant office block building which shut out natural sunlight and evoked anger. Tilting her head back to see the top of this building and a sliver of sky, something caught Sally's eye.
A man stood on the edge (on, not near, ON), holding his foot out in front of him. He looked like a child who had reached the end of a balance beam in gym class, unsure of where to go next.
Sally was terrified of heights, and just looking at him was making her feel ill, but she couldn't look anywhere else. She felt like she could save him just by watching. She dialled, her eyes never leaving the top of the skyscraper. He was sitting down now.
“Hey where's Marty? Didn't he go for his lunch like an hour ago? Usually back by now, isn't he?” said Jim.
“Maybe he went home, he didn't look so great, actually.”
Jim nodded in agreement and looked back at his spreadsheet with disgust. He hated his job, and wished he could be at home like Marty. Twenty minutes later his boss, Bill, burst into the room to shed some light on their co-worker's actual whereabouts.
“Jim, have you seen Martin?” said Bill, panting slightly.
“Nope, we were just saying he's been gone a while. We think he might have gone home ill,” said Jim.
“Listen, I just got off the phone with the cops. They got a call-in from an apartment across the street. Some woman saw a thin guy with brown hair standing on top of our building, looking like he's gonna jump,” at this point Jim's stomach turned, “now, is it me or does that sound like Martin? The quiet guy who eats lunch alone? No girlfriend? No li-” Bill was cut off.
“Shut up, Billy.” said Jim, as he pushed his boss aside and walked out of the room. At this moment in time he did not care about respect for his superiors. Marty was a good guy in Jim's eyes. They both hated this job, and while it was true that Marty didn't talk much, he and Jim got along just fine.
He ran straight to the stairs. Their floor was four from the roof; it would probably be quicker than staring at the elevator doors, waiting for them to open. Jim took to the steps three at a time, and was almost out of breath when he reached the roof exit door. He realised at this point that, although he had rushed up here, he had no idea what he was going to say to Marty. They were amiable enough as co-workers, but that was about the extent of it. They had socialised outside of work once, but that was a work-related thing, and Marty had left early.
Jim decided that being with Marty and saying nothing of use was much better than staying here and saying nothing of use. He pushed on the door handle and stepped out into the fresh air. He hadn't realised what a nice day it was.
Marty sat, leaning back on his palms, taking in the sights. Usually he hated these skyscrapers. They taunted him on his way to work, as if they knew he would be spending the day inside one. Today, however, with a clean slate ahead of him, the city looked magnificent. He smiled, and closed his eyes. The sun had moved round and was now working on giving Marty a mild tan.
He reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone. He started to text.
Hi mom, just wanted to say I love you. This wasn't your fault.
Marty shook his head and deleted it. He began to text again.
Sorry, mom. Marty.
Send. The phone slid back into his pocket; he shuffled a bit closer to the edge, preparing himself for the launch. He leaned right over to see where he wanted to aim for, where his mark would be made, but a balcony jutted out from the building. Marty would have to clear that. He leaned over a bit more, to try and get a clearer view. Moving forward again, he was perched mostly on air now.
The roof exit door opened. It was the kind of door that couldn't be opened quietly, it had to crash and bang for every occasion. He looked round and saw Jim walking towards him.
“Jim! The hell are you doin' here? You almost made me slip you son of a bitch!” yelled Marty.
“The hell am I doing here? What are you doing you crazy bastard?”
“What does it look like I'm doing, Jim?”
Jim didn't know whether to be firm, careful or aggressive. He could have pleaded, begged or insulted Marty. Nothing seemed like a very good idea, Marty was so fragile at the moment that staying silent seemed like the only truly safe option.
“Jim, you're a good guy, and thanks for being here, but this is happening. You don't have to watch.”
“Watch? You think I want to watch? I want you to get off that goddamn ledge and come downstairs. Billy wants that report on his desk in a half an hour,” said Jim. He seemed to think that out of all his options, a joke about work was appropriate.
“Ah screw Bill, man. I'm done with it. I'm done with it all.”
“Yeah, screw Bill. Exactly. Get off of there and we'll go drink to that, we'll quit today.” Jim wasn't so sure that suggesting a binge drinking session to a suicidal loner was very wise. He walked closer to Marty.
“Jim, I swear to god, you take one more step...” said Marty. Jim didn't need him to finish the rest of the sentence. His tone threatened plenty.
“Alright, alright. Let's just talk a while.”
“I ain't got much to talk about, Jim. I've made my peace with this.” he said with finality. Jim was silent, he knew it was over. But Marty wasn't jumping. A few moments passed.
“Well, maybe...” Jim started, but was cut short. The roof exit door crashed open for the third time that day, and through it came two policemen. Marty looked round at them, and then at Jim. He smiled and shrugged, before uttering his last words.
Marty lifted away from the ledge and kicked off the side of the building with all of his strength. He cleared the balcony and began to pick up speed. Jim's agonised scream faded away until all Marty could hear was the air as he fell through it.
© Charlie Bowers April 2011
More life moments
someguy.75 at gmail.com