I was sitting in my completely dark, apartment staring at my digital clock waiting for a minute to pass. The strange thing about waiting is that even when you’re waiting for something as short as a minute to pass it always seems like it’s taking forever.
I was stationed in the comfort of my recliner that was located in the living room of my apartment. The entire room was dark, absent of any light, this including the drawn shades that blocked out every single car’s head lights from the outside street. I had been waiting nearly half an hour for 9:00pm to come because that was the time that I had chosen to end my life.
The dim, red numbers on the clock were the only thing present in the darkness, which displayed the time as 8:44pm. I had carefully planned everything out the night before, on how I intended to go about doing this. I would spend the entire day alone in my apartment, tidying it up, organizing things to save the landlord some trouble for when he would have to move my stuff out to make space for a new tenant.
Afterwards, I would listen to my favorite songs and watch my favorite movie one last time and then have my finial meal. The remainder of the time, I would sit in my chair watching the clock, thinking about everything that I had done wrong in my life, until it reached 8:45, when I would then make my way up to the roof of the apartment complex and jump off the twelve story high building.
So far, I had nearly completed everything on that list, and was preparing to follow through on the final steps. I didn’t notify my family members, say any last words to them, because for the most part, I was under the impression that they would not care. My death of course would be a total shock and the only thing I would regret was not being able to see their reactions to the news over what had happened to me.
I had spent several hours thinking, emotionally and mentally preparing myself, of what it was that I was about to do. The strange part is, when your alone with your thoughts in such a dark state of mind, your memory has a tendency to bring back every horrible memory and force you to relive an event that you had long ago repressed from the consciousness of your mind. I was actually glad that these horrible memories choose to resurface because they were stronger motivators to help encourage me to go through with this.
I blinked just as the clock rolled over, marking it as 8:45pm. It would take me a few minutes to reach the roof and once I did, I would jump at precisely 9:00pm, a time that meant something special to me.
I quickly rose from my chair and move through the darkness, relying on my memory as a guide, to avoid tripping over anything. When I reached the door, I unlocked it, stepping out into a brightly lit hallway that caused me to squint for several minutes while my eyes readjusted to being exposed to light after having endured darkness for several hours.
I closed the door behind me, not bothering to lock it because I didn’t have any use for the possessions that were in my apartment. Without further a due, I made my way down the hallway focused on making my way to the roof. I was wearing a black suit, an outfit I had assigned to be my uniform at work, and over my suit I was wearing a thick black coat to protect me from the harsh, autumn winds. It seemed slightly ironic that I was wearing a coat to protect myself from harm, when in reality, I was heading to danger.
I reached the end of my hallway, then took the elevator up to the twelfth floor which had a separate stairwell that lead to the roof. The elevator ride was quick and quiet, allowing me a few moments longer with my thoughts. A few people that I knew, got on and off as the elevator took me to the top floor. They politely greeted me and then went their separate ways, obviously unaware of what it was that I was about to do.
I was the only one in the elevator when it reached the twelfth floor. I climbed off and made my way down death row hallway because at the end was the stairwell that lead to the floor. While walking I felt as though the walls were trying to close in on me, as an attempt to stop me from making this decision, however after walking firming ahead, they appeared to expand allowing me to climb the stairwell to the roof top.
The door leading to the roof was heavy to open which forced me to shove my body weight onto the push handle until it eventually swung open. I had made it to the roof.
There was an icy breeze that greet me, sending shivers down my spine. The sounds of ongoing traffic seem to echo as they floated their way up to the roof top. I carefully walked along the empty surface until I found myself at the edge of the roof, over looking a balcony that lined the entire exterior of the roof top that was up to my waist.
The cars below resembled tiny, rows of moving squares. I didn’t have a fear of heights, but looking down on the cars below made me feel dizzy. The night sky was absent of stars and displaying an ultimate form of blackness.
After taking a quick glance at my watch, I discovered that I had about ten minutes until it would be nine o’clock. I took a deep breath, reminding myself why it was that I was doing this. I had been a terrible, father and husband to my family, and along with this I had been a greedy CEO that had muzzled thousands of dollars from other companies forcing some of them to go bankrupt.
At the time when I had been doing this, it meant nothing to me, and I would replay the slogan in my head, “It’s just business,” as if by saying this it could easily rationalize my wrongs and diminish any of my guilt. It was because of my participation in our company that once wealthy families were struggling to eat in homeless shelters. At the time, none of this mattered to me because I was in the comfort of my own home with my family, living a luxurious life.
Along with being a terrible, greedy, money hungry CEO, I was a terrible husband and father. I was always working and never had time to spend with my wife or my son, who grew up being raised by nannies and butlers while I developed a closer relationship with my employees and co-workers than I had with my own family members. My only child never even had a chance to spend any real time with his father.
This is why it shouldn’t have been a big shock to me when my wife divorced me five years ago.
“I’m unhappy in this relationship!” she had yelled at me when first revealing to me her plans of leaving me. “You’ve wasted nearly fourteen years of my life. What was the point in marrying you if I can never even see you?!”
As her words replayed in my mind, my heart rate inclined as though it were happening again and I was reliving the shock. I had begged and begged her to stay with me, but she refused and we ended up getting a divorce. It didn’t take her long to remarry a high priced lawyer, and I didn’t like the influence he had over my son.
It had always been a dream of mine for my son to follow in my footsteps and help manage the company I was a part of, but he was the least bit interested in that and shortly after my wife remarried he began to grow attached to his step-father.
When he told me that he wouldn’t follow in my footsteps and become a CEO, I was disappointed with him and even more enraged when he told me that he wanted to become a lawyer.
“You don’t know what you’re saying.” I said firmly to him. “Josh, your step-father has completely brain washed you.”
“No he hasn’t!” my son said bitterly. “I want to do this. I want to help protect people legally.”
“Protect them from what?”
“From people like you!” he blurted out.
After having made such an attack on his father’s character, he turned around and ran from the room, refusing to speak with me for the rest of the day. This had happened nearly a decade ago and I hadn’t had contact with my son ever since he had entered law school. He would call me often and I would speak with him shortly, a majority of the times our conversations were arguments, and we never actually met with one another face to face. The most recent phone call I received from him was two weeks ago, when he had called to ask me to come attend his graduation from college.
“It would really mean a lot to me if you came, Dad.”
Despite disagreeing with his career choice, I had wanted to go for him, but at the same time I felt far too guilty from having not been in his life. I felt that if I went it would only cause tension between his mother and cause a whole scene to unfold, therefore I didn’t go. Josh was obviously heartbroken over the issue because later that night he called me for the last time, leaving me a dirty message that revealed his detest for me.
“I can’t believe you. You actually missed one of the most single important days of my life. You’re a terrible father and I’m not even going to try anymore. Since you missed this moment of my life, I’m going to miss every moment you have left of yours.”
I hadn’t heard a word from him ever since and doubted that I ever would. He had completely cut himself out of my life.
I think it was after I lost my job a year ago that the realization of my wrongs began to set in. Our company had gone bankrupt, after enduring several law suits, causing nearly all of the employees to lose their job. Without work, I was presented with an epiphany that they made me realize all my wrongs and flooded me with guilt over every transgression that I had committed. I had spent a year battling with depression, realizing that there was nothing I could do to make up for the wrongs I had done, except…ending my own life.
Death was the ultimate form of compensation, which made me feel that by dying I would make up to everyone who I had wronged. They might find comfort in knowing that I had robbed myself of one the most extreme privileges: Being alive.
The sound of the roof top door swinging open, startled me, nearly causing me to slip and lose my balance, falling far too early than I had intended. I quickly grabbed a hold of the banister, balancing myself and turning around to see who it was that was coming through the door.
I caught sight of a teenager, who couldn’t be older than eighteen or seventeen years of age. She had long dark hair that was concealed beneath a wool pink colored hat. She wore a black jacket that was covered her slim body frame. She was dressed in dark clothing and the thing that caught my attention most about her were her thick eyelashes were moist, as though to hint at the fact that she had been crying recently.
The teen glanced over at me, but did not say a word. Instead she walked straight, heading for the banister that covered the roof top. She didn’t even look at me, not once, but I was far more transfixed on her, curious as to what she was doing up on the roof top this late at night.
The teenager reached the banister and to my surprise, she began to lift her leg over it, but that was as far as she got because I ran over at full speed grabbing a handful of her shirt and I pulled her backwards away from the banister before she could make any other attempt to jump.
“Let go of me!” she screamed as I engulfed her from behind in a bear hug to keep her still. “Let me go you weirdo!”
“What is wrong with you?!” I asked abruptly turning her around so that I was facing her. I kept a firm grip on her shoulders to keep her from running off. “Are you trying to get yourself killed?!”
“Yes!” she blurted out. “That’s the whole point you jerk!”
I was caught off guard by her outburst and quickly loosened my grip on the teenager. She abusively shook herself off and took several steps away from me, staring at me as if I were some kind of monster for having interrupted her attempt to die.
I couldn’t help thinking how wrong it was for the girl to attempt something like this. It was strange that someone so young, someone who had so much potential was attempting to end their life. It might be hypocritical for me to say that she shouldn’t jump, when ironically that was my intention as well, however I didn’t understand her logic behind her choice because she was young. I was a middle age adult and there wasn’t any mending of my mistakes, but she on the other hand was young and could easily resolve whatever issues she was facing.
“You can’t jump.” I said slowly.
“You can’t stop me.” she said offensively.
“You’re right…it wouldn’t be right for me…especially when I had the same idea as you.”
She stared at me for a second, looking me up and down from head to toe and in a second I saw a baffled look flash through her eyes.
“What’s your excuse?” she asked.
“Just…” I stared out into the distance. “I made a lot of mistakes in my life time. I lied to so many people…I wasn’t there for my family….”
There was a long silence that elapsed between us and the girl looked awkwardly at her feet. I then returned her question onto her.
“…just some stupid crap.” she was quiet for a second and then elaborated further on her response. “My parents are divorcing again and all my mother ever does is take everything out on me. She says it’s my fault and that…I ruined their relationship. I just thought that…I thought that…,” her voice trailed off and she was unable to complete her sentence.
“Listen, you’re mom sounds like a jerk.”
“Hey!” she said angrily. “That’s my mom.” she was quiet for a second and then said. “You’re right though…she is a jerk.”
“You shouldn’t let something like that discourage you. You’re mom may be harsh, but jumping off the roof won’t hurt anyone, except for you. You’re still young, you can get pass this because you…control your own destiny.”
“You don’t know how it is.” she said defensively. “You’re just saying that so I don’t jump. Everyone always lies and says things will get better, but they never do and how can you tell me not to jump, when you were going to do it too?”
I was quiet and I had sensed ahead of time that she was going to throw something like this in my face. We were both silent for a moment, the wind blew a cold breeze that caused the hair on my neck to stick up. The teenager quietly shivered, but didn’t mention being cold.
“How about this…,” she said in a quiet tone. “If I don’t jump…then you can’t either.”
“No! It’s different. You’re young, you have your whole life ahead of you, mine is already-
“It doesn’t matter how old you are!” she blurted out. “You can change at any age. You sound like you’ve been through a lot of garbage, maybe more than me, but seriously mister…like you said…you control your own destiny.”
I thought for a moment and was surprised that I was learning this lesson from someone so young. I began to feel grateful that I had made it up onto this roof top in time to meet the teen because she had suddenly caused me to have an epiphany. She was correct, I had done a lot of stupid things in my life time and most of them were selfish acts that hurt strangers or, worst yet, people who were close to me, however if I was truly willing to make amends, then it was possible. It was going to take some time and a lot of work, but I was certain that I could make it happen.
“You’re right,” I said slowly. “We control our own destinies. I won’t jump as long as you don’t either.”
The teen allowed a warm smile to spread across her face which was a juxtaposition when you looked at her sad, swollen eyes that appeared to have seen many versions of sadness.
“Good. We can…we can help each other out.” she said wiping a falling tear from her eye. “My name is Melony, by the way.”
“I’m Ken Soltor.”
“Let’s keep in touch Mr. Soltor.” she said. “I think God brought us together.”
The second these words left her mouth, my watch on my wrist began to beep, notifying me that it was 9:00pm, the time I had chosen to jump. It was significant to me because nearly half a century ago, it was the time at which I was born.
I cleared the alarm and took a hold of Melony’s arm, leading us off the rooftop so that we could go somewhere else to talk about our issues together.
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