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"Mere Seconds"

Sneering voices echo in my mind as I make the never-ending climb towards my own denouement. Act 5 is nearing its conclusion, and the audience waits with bated breath to see the thrilling finale to my story.

I pass by someone on this staircase, hurriedly making their descent into madness, both figuratively and quite literally. Neither of us makes the time to exchange pleasantries, serving as a further example as to why none of us deserve this life. Everyone is so caught up with their own issues that it’s newsworthy when someone isn’t a piece of shit to another human being. How incredibly drab. Even a mirthless smile from this balding, overworked pawn would’ve been better than silence. His lack of anything says more than words ever could, I suppose. How did I end up here, goddammit? I approach the door that opens onto the roof, and I force it ajar. Out I walk, into infinitum.

Here I stand now, gazing intently into the eyes of my own mortality. It stares back at me in quiet understanding. All my life has lead me to this exact moment, and through all the anger I harbor in my heart I know why I am here. I look out, seeing the mundanity of corporate America, relishing the fact I will soon be rid of my societal shackles. The lingering silence of the universe screams its complacency.

A light rain cools my burning desires, just enough that I might go so far as to call it refreshing. Looking out, upwards goes my glance, although downwards, I know, goes my soul. I close my eyes, relax my thoughts, and let myself envision what it will be like. I am ready. Every ounce of me is ready. Yet, here I stand. Through all the countless moments of my life, as I have spiraled further and further away from my own humanity, I have dreamed of this precise second. I have cherished it. Ironically, the thought of being here in this precise time and place is what kept me alive for so many years. I knew, even after all else had failed me or left me alone to pick up the pieces of a broken heart, that I could always rely on this moment being here, whenever I need to call upon it. I have desired this, as a drowning man desires air. It is comforting to know that soon, I shall be as the chimney swifts I would watch from my bedroom window, so many years ago.

Oh, how I longed to be as they were, to be anywhere but where I was. To fly, free and unburdened, off into distant skies. But there was no escape for a child in a world run by monsters. I had to keep my head down as best I could until I was able to get away, an opportunity that only came with time. But no longer have I the desire to continue along a path I was never meant to travel, especially not alone. Alas, I am the very reason for this solitude. I find myself alone this grey morn, but it is not for lack of love or sacrifice that I find myself on this rooftop now, and not in my lover’s sweet embrace. I loved her as never have I loved before; truly unconditionally.

I gave you my all, which only drove you further away. No matter what I did, never was it quite enough. It may take two to tango, but it takes only one to leave, so here now I persist, albeit unwittingly, celebrating our anniversary alone. It wasn’t the leaving that cut so deeply, but rather, watching you leaving with someone else. So now, I am a spectator of a life I once lived and wish I could still share with you.

In spite of my clear discontentment, and in direct opposition to my very desire to finally be at peace, something, something keeps me here a second longer, a second longer, a second longer, still. The undiscovered potential that is every second that is to come invites adventure, like a shotgun wedding between the two of us when we still loved one another. Like quitting our respective jobs and moving to this shithole city in this shithole state. Like promising ourselves we’d never love another. But those days are over, now. This next decision is final, damning and binding. No longer can I change my mind once I make this choice. No life is ever truly satiated. Persistent unfulfillment wins out at the end of every person’s narrative.

The seconds that have already passed in my own melancholy life have proven to be enough for this lifetime and many more. What exactly is it that makes me stay, then, when every ounce of my being wants to step out into nothingness and let Sir Isaac Newton prove his theorem right, one last, final time? Perhaps my conscience is not clear, but is that not partly why I am here, to begin with? Yet, here loiter still the darkest parts of my being that could never be washed clean, nor do they deserve to be.

So many greater men than I deserve life, yet I am accursed with it. The ultimate irony is that at the end of their lives, so many people desired just one more second, one more second, one more second, still- unsatisfied when all was complete. Perhaps it is selfishness and not irony that now balance me precariously on the edge of this building, overlooking the city below, abustle with nothingness and eager to get nowhere as fast as possible. But, regardless, here still I stand. I have wasted so much time on things that matter not. If only I could go back and make better use of this time, perhaps I would not be where I find myself today. But what’s done is done, and so am I.

How much time has passed since I first climbed up onto this rooftop? Mere seconds feel like an eternity of indecision, hanging over me like a burden that I can no longer bear. One last time I look out, this time without looking down. The rain continues to patter down upon the roof, each drop landing with a muffled plop, like a drum roll announcing unabashedly to the world that its tyrannical injustice has claimed another victim. A crack of thunder heralds in the affirmation of the gods to my woebegone plight. There is only one way off this roof, and it's a free fall into oblivion.

Out then, I step, letting the gravity of the situation flee from my worries, as my worries themselves begin to feel as light as I do now. No more sorrow. No more sadness. No more heartbreak. Just pure, blissful nothingness awaits me now, and I embrace it warmly with my arms wide open. My whole life, I have been beholden to the will of others, but now, now I am truly free. Like those chimney swifts I wished to be when I was still a hopeful child. I am as they are, soaring off into the unknown, letting my instincts guide me towards unanimity.

These few seconds tick by, just as they will continue, long after I am washed away from the street below. As I approach my own demise, my eyes meet those of a passerby just seconds before my whole body meets asphalt. In those brief seconds, time stops, and I see a girl, about my age, whose eyes meet mine. I wonder if, in some secondary life, things could’ve gone differently for me. Perhaps I could’ve loved again. Perhaps I could’ve even learned to love myself. I could've gotten help and found new meaning for my life. Oh, merciless God, allow me a second chance! But I am not afforded this chance, and as a brief instance of unthinkable pain envelops my body, sweet peace envelops my mind. 

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