There was nothing more upsetting than seeing the list of my options slim down by the second, torn to shreds by the frenemy of web searches, aka Google.
A lethal combo of meds and alcohol was ruled out for lack of raw material. No access to med cabinets and no doctor friend to supply them – with no questions asked – made it impossible to carry out. And the fact that I was a nondrinker didn’t help my cause either.
Cutting my veins like they showed in the movies. No. Now that I thought about it, the sight of blood nauseated me. And cuts hurt like hell. Have you ever accidentally cut yourself with paper? I did, more than once, because I’m like that, natural born clumsy.
The good old bullet was out of discussion, for in a world with more weapons than population I lived in a small province town where violence was an alien concept.
Carbon monoxide intoxication seemed the best idea. You fall asleep, you die. No pain. Except that they don’t tell you the entire truth. You suffer indeed, a lot. And there is no real guarantee of death.
More than once, while driving, I considered missing a turn, skidding into a ditch or crashing into a tree. Given my luck, a much worse fate than death would have captured me.
Most times, I simply wished God would decide on my behalf, taking me away in a surprising, theatrical way.
In a suicide-friendly universe, I was the coward, the black sheep of suicides, the dishonor of hara-kiri, the death-wisher upon an already fallen star.
All these thoughts and many more were jamming my mind as I drove down the country road, headed to work, bawling “Suicide Blonde” as it blasted from the radio. Even music pokes fun at me, I’m a damn brunette.
I couldn’t hear the WhatsApp ringtone with the loud music, but I saw the screen come alive and checked it, one eye on the road, one on the phone. It was a text from my best friend Kate. “Saturday. Party at some friend of Ewan. There’s a friggin’ pool on the attic terrace. We MUST go.”
There were things not even Kate knew, things that the tiny proud side of me refused to share. Like the fact that my husband was a cheating bastard. That he was on the verge of abandoning me and our four-year-old child for some random slut. And that’s how my list started its tormented existence.
It’s common knowledge that everyone reacts differently to events. For me? All I could see was the shame, the judgments, the gossiping, the failure, the catastrophic after of a life I wrongly believed perfect.
So the last thing I wanted was to party. My thumb had just started typing when my eye caught a car shooting into the traffic-circle. My feet slammed on the brakes, making my heart and a few other organs jump right up into my throat. “Idiot! You could have killed me!” I cursed at the man. Well, maybe idiot wasn’t the word I used.
But as I caught breath and resumed my drive, my gaze fell on the tall buildings running along the street.
There’s a friggin’ pool on the attic’s terrace.
Kate’s words sank in. A terrace. An attic. How high could that be? Four floors at least? Maybe more? Would that be a quick and painless death?
I backspaced the ‘Maybe another time’ and quickly replaced it with an enthusiastic ‘I’m in!’
Going off with a bang. The news would even write about it. ‘She was so happy.’ No assholes, I wasn’t happy or I would be still alive. But let’s go ask my lovely hubby why I did it. I was already picturing myself as a stalking ghost, making his life a living hell, one sleepless night for each tear that I cried.
It was the perfect plan. Or it was the stupidest plan ever.
That Saturday I put special effort in getting ready. No black or red to maximize the effect, so I picked a yellow dress and matching makeup. The epitome of happiness, I smiled at my frivolous self in the mirror.
“Are you okay?” Kate’s sapphire eyes probed me, calling my anxiety before we even entered the attic. “You are… weird. Lovely dress by the way!”
“Just tired.” It was my generic excuse for every intruder, except that this time I was a bundle of nerves and my words sounded unconvincing even to my ears.
But the terrible actress in me somehow managed to deliver a three-dimensional performance of a flippant wife looking for some innocent fun. I accepted a sip of champagne, chattered about nothing, even kissed – and immediately regretted it – some guy who made a pass at me.
Inside, well-hidden under a ruby lipstick, were aggressive flashes of a plan I was resolute to fulfill.
I kept gazing around. Kate seemed nowhere in sight. I should have worn black. The apartment was crammed and lively, even too chaotic for my taste, so I escaped on the terrace, just to realize it was even worse. A few heads turned in my direction. What was I thinking when I decided to wear yellow? Way to go by unnoticed…. And there soaked Kate, relaxing in the pool with a rainbow drink in her hand.
The terrace alone was bigger than my entire apartment. Arms on the parapet, I enjoyed the nightly panorama while a congruous gathering cooled their spirits in the pool. For a moment I almost forgot why I was here. Almost. It’s hard to say how long I had been staring out before realizing that most people had surrendered to the frisky air and were continuing the party inside.
I was finally alone. And I was freezing, goosebumps stippling my bare arms. I peeped inside, just to make sure nobody would see me. This was the perfect moment, right? Nevertheless, I hesitated. Maybe it wasn’t a good idea, maybe I should have waited for a better occasion?
Chicken. There’s no better occasion than this.
Then why was I shuddering as I walked to the corner of the terrace?
It’s just the cold air. You can do it. That’s what you want.
Helping myself against the outer wall, I stepped on the railing with one foot. The sound of my throbbing heart covered the uproar coming from the apartment. I carefully balanced myself before the second foot could follow.
Wow, this is high, very high.
The passing cars looked like small-scale models.
You just have to jump, it couldn’t be easier!
My toes of my left foot were sticking out, just a little bit, when I noticed a shadow behind me.
I slightly turned my head, enough to see a man standing a few feet from me. I flinched.
“Jesus Christ, you scared me to death! I could have fallen!” Both my hands were now clinging to the wall, nails dug into the red bricks.
The man didn’t move. His features were barely discernible in the darkness. He was fair haired for sure, and the sparkling of his eyes suggested they were probably azure or green, but aside from that I could never recognize him. “The whole town does not need to see you falling off my balcony, would you please leave using the door?”
His balcony? Dammit. I realized in that moment I didn’t even get to meet the host of the party. “I’m fine here, thanks.”
Just do it, idiot. Jump. Jump before he can stop you.
“You won’t do it,” he asserted, with a disarming conviction.
I tittered. “What makes you think it?” There is always someone arrogant enough to think they know you better than you know yourself. Of course I would jump.
“Because I’ve stood in that same corner, four times, and I never found the guts to jump.” His arms were folded defensively on his chest, but his head was held high, eyes fixed on mine.
“Then what stopped you from trying a fifth?” Why did I even bother? He was clearly taking time.
My blood ran cold, as I suddenly felt dragged in some horror movie. “Wait… are you a ghost?”
His arms dropped, his head tilted on one side as he looked at me in plain disbelief. “I’m what? How much TV do you watch? Do I look like a damn ghost?”
Well, aren’t angels notoriously good-looking, blonde and with blue eyes? “Hey! How am I supposed to know what a ghost looks like? It’s not like I’ve ever met one.”
“Well, I’m not a ghost, I own this place, I don’t haunt it. And for the records, the fourth time I ended up with one leg in and one leg out. I literally shitted in my pants,” he admitted. Unashamed, almost self-ironic.
I didn’t want to know how it feels to see death in your eyes and miss it. I didn’t want anyone to implant that kind of seed in me. It meant growing a whole forest between me and my plan. It wasn’t any of my business if he had failed in his intent. “Well, either you’re a coward or you didn’t really want it.”
When he moved a half step in my direction, I freaked out. By instinct, my left foot stuck a bit more out. In that moment, it’s hard to say who was more terrified between me and him. He must have caught my movement, albeit almost imperceptible, for he took a step back. I wanted to turn and stare at the one hundred or so feet of free fall awaiting me, but at the same time I didn’t want to give him the chance to grab me. No matter what he said, I wasn’t going to leave through the door.
“I know it’s none of my business but, why do you want to die?” He posed the one question I wasn’t expecting and that I didn’t want to hear. He wanted me to share something nobody, not even my closest friend knew. Naively, I realized he was a perfect stranger, there was no shame, simply because I would soon be dead and never to meet him again.
“My husband cheated on me.” For the first time I was admitting my ache in words instead of hidden tears. The sense of humiliation was almost unbearable.
“Are you serious? That’s why you want to jump from my terrace?”
To say his reaction was unpredicted would be an understatement. He should have felt my agony, not mock me. “Don’t judge me.”
“I thought you had some disease. Or you were broke!”
“I said don’t judge!”
“You are ridiculous.”
“Would you stop?”
“Only if you step back inside.”
Blood started boiling in my veins. Who the hell did he think he was to ridicule my feelings? I was hurt, I was hurting, all I wanted was for the heartbreak to finally stop, for my mind to stop thinking about it, while he was forcing me into the opposite direction. “You know what he did? While fucking me he suggested we should sell our apartment so with his part of money he could buy another one, for them!” I shouted, my breathing heavy with frustration. Careless of his presence, I turned to look down.
Damn, this is frighteningly high.
And that’s the moment I did my biggest mistake. “Why did you?” I confronted him about his own pain. Maybe that would have stopped him. Or so I believed, until his deep exhale gave away that this was just the beginning.
“Cheated on my ex-wife. She took our daughter, left, haven’t seen them in over three years.” He then fell silent, letting his words sink in, before adding, “Yeah, go figure, being on the other side it’s not fun either.”
I wasn’t expecting this. Yet, I couldn’t feel sorry for him. “You searched for your own pain, I didn’t.”
“Really? What makes you so sure?”
Well, if I had to be completely honest, there was a good load of responsibilities on my side too. I hadn’t been much present over the past months, maybe even over the past year. Or more. So absorbed by my new job, I was away or taking work home most of the nights. Other times, I was so exhausted that I barely kissed my kid goodnight, go figure my husband.
“Shame and guilt walk hand in hand… uhm, I don’t even know your name.” This time his voice was calm and understanding.
“Sonya, my name is Sonya.”
“Sonya, that’s a lovely name,” he smiled.
“I feel so… lost.” Nothing more appropriate left my mouth. Lost, numbed. Stupid.
“Now, Sonya, would you please… come back inside?” he almost begged. “I said it. You won’t jump.”
He was right. When he moved closer, a bit more confident this time, I let him.
Almost afraid to leave the safety of the wall, I moved one hand, the least possible for him to take it. His touch felt warm, comfortingly human as he took my hand and helped me back in.
“Thank you… uhm, I don’t even know your name.“
“Michael, my name is Michael.”