How To Jump Off The Ledge

Her feet dangle over the edge, will she jump?

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She sits on the very edge of the concrete, cold ledge. The vast city spreads out before her eyes. The world looks like tiny ant hills. The dots of humanity crawl through the interweaving of sidewalks and roads. It’s like the roads become living, breathing beings. The suburbia pulse plays out with headlights and the play of green and red traffic lights.

She can almost taste the exhaust from the cars if she closes her eyes. The sensation of the grittiness of the ground. The feel of it from when she fell off her bike so many times. The blood that delayed to erupt from her many injuries on her knees. Her legs are riddled with scars no one ever sees. Or, the memory of the texture of sand on her lips. The way it crunches beneath her teeth. All throughout her life heights had been a comfort for her.

Her feet dangle above the endless ground below. As a child she loved rollercoasters that spun upside down. There was a part of her that pondered what would happen to her shoes if they weren’t tied tightly.

She pulls at the edge of her shoe. It pops half on and off. She’s both fascinated with its potential crash. And, annoyed at being left with one shoe on. The wind picks up in that moment. It’s as if it’s teasing her to test what she wants to do.

“Cath, so you’re here. Should have known. Can you get away from that edge?”

A familiar voices calls out. Her back tenses at not being the only one up at the rooftop. She wondered if he’d try to seek her out.

“Hmm, but Jay you know I like perching on high things.”

“I don’t know how you can stand it,” he mumbles.

She can sense his hesitation to get close to the edge like she does. Cath hits her feet against the wall. Like a child dangling her feet in a game. She tilts her head up to the sky. The stars twinkle down at her. The Big Dipper winks with it’s North Star.

“The perspective of the world looks so insignificant up here. Like, you’re only a dot on this planet.”

They fall into a relative silence. He takes tentative, careful footsteps toward her. She knows he can see her face from the side.

“You have that look in your eyes. I saw it when you darted up here,” Jay says.

Her breath is gulped inside her lungs. The air is so cold it burns. She keeps her back facing him. She makes sure to pop the heel of her shoe back on her left foot. There’s a mental note to make her face a clean slate. Something unreadable, even to him and his keen eyes. His footsteps echo endlessly on the concrete ground.

When he sits next her she can sense his fear. It’s palpable, like her mother’s fear of heights.

I don’t know why I didn’t inherit it from her. Instead, I’m some kind of twisted, adrenaline junkie introvert. Her thoughts become a garbled mess.

His fingertips brush against her arm. They are inherently, overwhelmingly warm.

“You’re cold.”

“I don’t feel it.”

“What happened?”

“I don’t want to go over it. I’m fine. See?”

Her head turns to look at him. She flashes a smile that literally feels painful on her lips. Like it’s a betrayal of her facial structure to do right now. Their eyes meet and she knows he can see through it. His fingertips keep rubbing against her skin as if he’s trying to start a fire.

He looks ridiculously handsome in the flickering, fluorescent light. Piercing, gentle eyes stare into her brilliant blue. The most beautiful thing about him is his intelligence. He covers it behind his quick wit and sense of humor.

“Fabrication and lies,” he says in a kidding tone.

“Why are you drawn to me? Why do you seek me out?”

“Why are you surprised I’m drawn to you?”

Cath pauses for a moment. She squints her eyes at him. He catches her off guard with his unexpected question.

Her throat constricts as she thinks about her life. The endless words repeat like a nail within her coffin. That she was too strange, too unusual to ever find other human beings to accept her.

“Because, I’m meant to be alone. Just is what it is. It’s me. It’s my design,” she says.

She shrugs her shoulders. Her head drops to stare down at the cement below. The terrace they sit on drops dramatically beneath their feet. He sits next to her with his legs folded up.

“I’m not gonna let you do that. You’re not shaking me that easily.”

“What if I never leave this ledge?”

She gives him a delirious, stubborn grin. One of those meant to scare him. That she means it and will wait until he throws in the towel.

He lets out a gentle, light hearted chuckle. There’s this glimmer in his eyes. Like her stubbornness deeply amuses him. Cath grunts at his response. He taps a finger against his nose.

“Then I’ll wait until you get too cold and you’re stubbornness fades. I’ll wait until you want to, or don’t want to, tell me what’s going on in there,” he says.

His fingertips chase up to her head. He brushes the locks away from her face. She lets out a sigh. Jay cups the side of her cheek. The warmth radiates from his palm. It’s such a welcome contrast to the numbness she was feeling. Cath inadvertently leans her head into his touch.

“Thank you.”

“For what?”

“For being you.”

“Well, it’s the only one I can be. Ain’t no one else gonna be me,” he says.

Cath can’t help but to smile at his words. He’s always telling her that we are the only ones who can live, be exactly who we are. Fitting in is pointless, but accepting yourself is essential. Because there is only one life you can live. You might as well embrace all the curvy edges of yourself.

She scoots closer to his toasty body. Their hips touch like the perfect design for each other. He places an arm around her hip. She bends her head. Cath places it on his broad shoulder with a deep exhale.

“Just breathe and be. That’s all you can do.”

Jay whispers within her ear. His warm breath tickles her cool skin. There’s the dance of his fingertips, playfully, against her thigh. Cath slides her hand inside his arm. The cotton material of his long sleeve shirt greets her fingertips. She grips his arm like it’s a lifeline.

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