The view from the rooftop was beautiful.
The city line stretched across the horizon gradually fading into a misty blur of the cloudy sky. I breathed in the cool scent of September air. The trees were slowly shedding their old skin, dropping leaves to the floor as they turned yellow.
This place looked familiar, I had been here before. Where was I again?
My eyes wandered around searching for clues. I carefully walked to the edge of the ledge and looked down. It was a long way below, and at the very end of it lay a crumpled body on the ground.
The figure looked vaguely familiar until the realization rammed against me with a sudden force.
That was me. There I was.
Sprawled at the bottom with my feet splayed, head soaking in a pool of blood, leaking a patch onto my faded red shirt turning it the right shade of crimson. My eyes were wide open and oddly unfocused.
No! No. Nooooo.
This was just a nightmare, right?
This wasn’t real. That wasn’t really me.
The bile rushed to the back of my mouth souring it with an acrid taste. I fell to my knees and retched a thin stream of vomit on the clean concrete.
I clutched my head tightly as the sky began to spin making me breathlessly dizzy.
The city line looked ugly as it crudely jutted out interrupting the calm blue of the sky. Darker clouds gathered around slowly obscuring the sun from view.
The rooftop began to stink.
Was it over? Was I really…dead?
It was an empty street and an early Sunday morning. Most people were indoors cooking eggs or having morning sex. I could be cooking eggs and having morning sex right now. I could be doing anything right now besides being dead.
I couldn’t remember why I had chosen to end my life. Why, why?
I racked my brain, grasping at the remnants of my weak memory.
Yes, the ice caps were melting, the president was sexist, the mayor was a cocaine addict, the price of real estate was skyrocketing, and the divorce percentage was increasing. Children still suffered in war-torn countries and people still died of incurable diseases.
Still, it wasn’t enough reason to want to kill myself.
A meteorite could potentially be hurtling at the speed of light in some distant galaxy with its trajectory curved towards Earth.
Yet, it wasn’t enough reason to want to kill myself.
My body lay there patiently, as I counted each painfully slow rotation of the minute’s hand on my watch. The same watch was still fixed on my hand that was now broken beyond repair. The watch had survived the brutal fall and seemed to be working fine.
I remembered then that my fiancé had only gifted it to me a month ago, the day before he died. I couldn’t recall how it had happened.
Is that why I had decided to kill myself?
A cat approached my lifeless body curiously. It looked at the barely recognizable crumpled mess with an expression of mild interest and slowly nudged it. It had a familiar horseshoe shaped black marking above its pink snout.
I knew this cat. This was my cat, but my cat was dead.
It had died in an unfortunate and strange accident a week ago. It had died in this very same spot after throwing itself off the rooftop two weeks after I had lost him.
The love of my life.
He had been drinking the night of his death. He had been upset. He always drank when he was upset. We had been arguing…again.
He had sifted through the contents of my phone and found a text message from an old friend. He had accused me of cheating on him, just like he had accused me one too many times before.
He had always been a little obsessive; it had seemed cute at first.
His persistent text messages, the romantic late night calls, the expensive gifts, the extravagant vacations, a fresh new bouquet of roses sent out every day at the dot on lunch hour at work.
It was all so adorable until it wasn’t.
Until I found him following me to work because he was suspicious I might be having an affair with my co-worker.
Until I found him sifting through the emails in my laptop in the middle of the night.
Until I found him making how-to lists of the way I should dress, the food I should eat, and the people I should meet.
That’s why we were arguing, I remember now.
I had wanted out.
I had wanted it to end and he had threatened to kill himself.
He had held up the kitchen knife and bought it dangerously close to his wrist.
“You’re the love of my life,” he tearfully said, slurring his words, “I finally found you, and I’ll never let go.” I had lied in the moment and agreed to be with him. He had said he needed to make it official to feel secure.
He had led me to the rooftop of the building where he bent the knee and produced a shiny big solitaire from the pocket of his gray fall coat.
It was a bright starry night and it would’ve been romantic under the right circumstances and with the right person.
I had slowly shaken my head.
I should’ve said yes, I should’ve because then none of this would have happened. His eyes had flashed in a moment of intense pain, and then he had turned around and jumped.
His death had haunted me weeks after he was gone.
My therapist said that I mustn’t blame myself. I told her I didn’t love him. She had said that it wasn’t my fault. I told her I wanted him to leave. She said that I simply needed time to heal from the guilt. I told her I just needed time.
I had nightmares every night after. I could hear his voice sometimes, so eerily close I had trouble sleeping. I could even feel him climbing into bed, as I tossed and turned in my sleep.
Then I heard it again, right there on the rooftop.
The same chillingly familiar voice.
“I’ve been waiting for you,” I spun around and saw him walking towards me.
The blood was still spattered across the same gray fall coat he had been wearing the night he died. The edges of his body seemed dim and faded, almost as if he was a walking memory. He was grinning as if it were a happy occasion, smiling widely at me. He pulled me close and embraced me tightly in his arms. His breath still smelt of lingering malt whiskey.
“I’ve missed you so much,” he said longingly. “Everything’s fine now. It’s all going to be okay. We don’t have to be apart anymore.”
Then his lips found mine as he hungrily kissed me. I pulled away, feeling sick to my stomach.
I looked at the crowd that had gathered around my body miles below. An ambulance stood by the side but the paramedics didn’t seem to be in a hurry.
My cat had disappeared.
It was over. It really was.
“I thought I was a fighter. Why would I quit?” I cried over my dead body, my voice breaking as the shock wore off and reality sunk in.
“Because we’re meant to be together,” he said, “Because I love you, and you love me.” I looked deep into his eyes and felt nothing more than an aching desire to get as far away as possible from this man.
He held my hand, and I resignedly accepted it. I shook my head sadly, “I didn’t think it would get to this. I never imagined I would jump.”
“Oh honey,” he smiled wryly “You didn’t jump. I pushed you.”
He locked me tightly in a suffocating embrace.
My cat reappeared beside me, and nudged my knee, gently purring looking at me curiously with her bloodshot eyes.