This abandoned building is about to collapse. It can happen any day, at any moment, without a prior warning. People might die, or get badly wounded, but in this strange, small part of the city, it wouldn’t really mean much, no matter how many people die. I’d be shocked even if the story gets covered in the news.
Every once in a while, different groups of people pay a visit to this rooftop to mess around and forget about the life they have outside of the world of the rooftop, so you can find empty beer bottles and condom packages in almost every corner of it. This rooftop used to be my sacred place as well. Whenever I felt anything, I’d visit this place. It reminded me of my time on the back of that unused truck, and everything that occurred there. It felt nostalgic; but now, this place is as empty as the streets I was treading minutes ago. In the quiet atmosphere of midnight, this sacred rooftop is just the same as any other place I look at.
Empty and silent.
I’d almost call it majestic.
It’s a nice place to end your life.
I stand on the edge; the wind blowing against my face, pushing me away from the edge as if it’s trying to save me. I don’t step back and keep pushing forward, figuring out if the wind was really as strong as I thought it was, or if it was something else pushing me away.
An invisible power.
An invisible part of me that seems to still be alive, struggling to take over.
An invisible part of me I haven’t successfully killed yet.
They say jumping is a great way to go. It makes you feel like an angel descending from the sky. Then again, there are many untold shards of the stories they tell; the shards without which, this story wouldn’t make the least sense. Like holes in cheese, or holes in their plots. Had they ever felt like angels, jumpers would have never jumped, to begin with.
I close my eyes, counting my final breaths.
Reaching number three, I open my eyes once more to take the leap. Not a leap of faith, but a leap of surrender. And then, I stop. Not because of a specific reason, but because of a specific person.
I see it from the corner of my eyes.
A black thread.
Blacker than the night itself, swimming around between the Earth and the sky, afloat in the wind. My eyes follow the black thread like they are looking for a way to halt what I was doing. The black thread is a long strand of hair, and it belongs to the girl standing several steps away from me, eerily close to me, and dangerously close to the edge.
Just as close as I am.
Where did she suddenly appear from?
I gasp. She hears, turns her head, and acknowledges me, but doesn’t seem to be taken aback by my presence. She studies me, and the way I’m standing.
Like a bird, who’s ready to fly.
“What are you doing?” I break the silence.
“Just the same as you are.” Her voice is trembling, but she’s not crying. I guess she just has a weak voice. A voice that gets lost in its surroundings.
“And why would someone like you want to die?” Her outfit seems clean, and colorful; like the ones a normal person would wear. Even though It’s too dark to fully determine her features, I can tell that her outfit is definitely better than mine. Unlike me, at least her appearance hints at a relatively good life. So, what’s the twist? What’s the thing she lacks? What does she desire?
Where is her plot hole?
“You answer me first.” She shoots my question back at me, making me talk in her stead. I take a step back and put my hands in my pockets.
“Did you hear me?”
This building used to be quiet every other time I was here; so quiet I thought it never even existed. Even the occasional couples would run away from midnight. It has never been this crowded around this time.
“I said you answer me first.”
This quiet building is now a bit too loud for my liking. To be frank, I prefer the lifeless, colorless rooftop I respected; the quiet world I admired; the sacred world I’d visit to forget about my life outside of it, just like any other person.
“Why would you want to die?” She pressures me for the third time, and after a long moment of hesitation, I look at the sky and speak.
“Because I don’t have a place in the living world,”
“I didn’t ask for a cool dialogue after a long, dramatic pause. I asked for a reply.”
“I asked for a reason.”
“The reason doesn’t matter much; it brings anyone to laughter, but alright. My father was the only family I had. After piling up a huge amount of debt, he suddenly left me to deal with it all, and since I was his only relative, his gambling buddies, people from the bank, and the landlord came after me. Suddenly, I was left alone and penniless. I could barely run away, and I’ve been living in the streets for four days, and here I am.” She was looking down the entire time I spoke, and she keeps doing so even after. Her gaze seems to be fixated on the lampposts separating different parts of the streets…
Different parts that all look alike.
And even with the lampposts around, I can barely make out anything. I can’t register anything in the dark, but her. This girl is either too bright for this place, or too dark that she’s just recognizable.
“It’s funny, right? What kind of Les Miserables plot was that?” I decide that it’s better to make fun of my own pathetic past before she does, but it doesn’t work, because she doesn’t seem to be interested enough in it to even address it, and instead, begins with her own reasons.
“I guess it’s my turn, huh?” Her voice is barely recognizable now.
My past didn’t matter. My past was just a price I needed to pay to hear hers; a token of trust.
A fair exchange of stories.
“Well, unlike you, who needs something as ridiculous as money, I need something even more ridiculous.” The sudden presence of something heavy makes me look around. That girl suddenly seems like a different person. Everything around me feels suffocating, and her silhouette when she turns around and fully faces me, makes me almost fall from the edge. For someone who’s a step away from death, her movements are way too fast, and she keeps her balance.
Doesn’t she know she’s dancing on the thinnest line?
“Unlike you, I need attention.”
“That’s a childish reason to jump.”
“You’re one to talk.” She suddenly bursts into laughter. The heavy presence from before that almost made me freeze up with its mere existence, suddenly morphs into something else. Something a bit lighter. “Your decision doesn’t even have any weight to it.” She continues.
“You don’t need weight if you want to die. When you go, you leave everything behind, including your weight.”
“You do have a point. We’re both jumping for ridiculous reasons. At least there’s no one watching, or this would be extremely embarrassing.” She slyly makes an opening for her next seven words. “People would love to see this, though.”
“That’s the point here, isn’t it?” She tilts her head and her face aligns with mine. Several steps away, there stands a face just as close to the edge as I am; completely aligned with my own. I can’t see her face well, but I feel her sharp glare at me. It’s crippling. It’s heavy.
“We love to see new things we don’t see in our everyday lives. We get bored and want something new, something interesting, and what’s more interesting than a person dying?”
“Don’t be so presumptuous. Some people actually care.”
“It won’t matter. That’s not even what I am talking about. Even if they know what they are doing is wrong, and even if they care, they won’t stop watching. They won’t be able to keep their eyes off of it. There’s something mysterious and beautiful about death that captures anyone’s attention; a certain elegance you cannot evade.”
The beauty behind death.
It’s been mentioned many times in popular works of literature. It’s been a constant theme of poems, and stories; but the concept of a beautiful death has always been a mystery for me. What makes a "death" beautiful? What are the prerequisites? What should your reason be? How should your procedure be? What should you want to accomplish with it? There are many factors that affect what your death looks like. No matter what those factors are, I already know both our deaths will be the ugliest ones.
People won’t stop looking at it, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be beautiful. People look at a dead tree in the middle of a desert the same way they look at a gorgeous flower in a forest. Anything is an eye-catcher if it catches the eye.
“We will finally be looked at.” She concludes, with her cold trembling voice.
“I guess you’re right.”
“I’m sure I’m right.”
“Shall we count to three now? Or are you not ready yet?” The girl hesitates. And then…
The girl steps a step closer. The girl steps, and steps one more time, until she reaches her destination.
Three steps that took her nineteen words.
She takes three steps, and I hear nothing. Her footsteps are soundless. So silent.
Does she even exist?
“I think I was ready before, but I’m not sure I am now. I think…” Her own hair stops her from taking another step, as they get splashed on her face with the sudden wind. She lets go of my hand and rubs her eyes.
When did she hold my hand?
I laugh. She ignores.
“Come with me.”
An odd proposal.
“I need someone who would laugh at me when I do something stupid, laugh with me when I’m happy, and get pissed when something gets me down. Someone who would bite my cheeks and tell me I have a cute, chubby face.” She announces with a dramatically loud, demanding voice. Judging by how she sounds, I deduce that she was being one hundred percent serious.
“Wait. What was that last request?”
“In other words, I need a friend.”
“I’m pretty sure for the last request, you are going to need more than a mere friend.”
“You need money, and I need another human in my life.”
She avoids talking about that “Cheek-biting scenario”.
“Then be my friend. I’m willing to buy you.”
“Buy me?” I raise an eyebrow. What is this girl trying to accomplish?
“I misspoke. I’m willing to hire you.”
Similar in meaning, synonymous is practice.
“For every time you are kind to me, every time you give me attention, every time you comfort me, and generally, every time you make me happy, you will be paid.”
Common sense…this girl has none.
For a desperate person, the word "sense" is a foreign concept. And that is why she makes the request.
And that is why I’m going to accept it.
She’s desperate for comfort, and I’m in dire need of money; and if it means I get to make that issue disappear completely, I’ll do anything it takes. I’ll even become an emotion whore a random girl on the streets can buy. If I can change my life from the hell it has been for years, into something else, anything else, I’m willing to do anything.
But, there’s a problem that needs to be addressed.
“Are you sure about what you are doing?” That is not what my question was going to be.
I instead wanted to make sure she was serious about her offer, but I realized.
A jumper never jokes around.
I’ve been one myself, and I still am.
I’m still on the edge, less than an inch away from death.
“What do you mean?” She asks nonchalantly.
You already know exactly what I mean.
“There are several things wrong with your request, aside from the fact that it sounds like it’s straight out of a romance novel.” She doesn’t laugh like I hoped she would. Her laugh is sweet and warm; the polar opposite of her voice when she speaks. It sounds less far away.
“I know.” Her tone tells me that she suggested that, completely aware of the risks it involves.
“Firstly, why the hell would you make friends with a random stranger? And secondly, why would you make friends with a random stranger? You’re an idiot for even trusting a person like that.”
“It doesn’t matter.”
“Would you really hurt me?”
I would never. She’s just someone who’s looking for a friend. Who can hurt someone this precious? I don’t completely trust her, and my instincts have been screaming at me all this time to avoid her, but I wouldn’t want to hurt her in any way.
“Let’s just say I would.”
“I’m not that stupid. I have a plan for that, which is giving you a room.”
“And what exactly will that accomplish?”
“I recently moved here from another country. I don’t have any relatives or friends. So, I’m all alone, and all I have is an empty house to return to every day.” She whispers something after that, and I hear it clearly; as clear as day.
A line I hear but choose not to address.
“One more thing. I’m giving you a room, but I’m not giving you a room. You are going to rent it. I won’t accept money, you won’t be able to buy the room, or leave it.”
So that’s how it is. By making me forever be in her debt, she’s tethering me to her existence. Her world.
A childish attempt at making me stay.
“So, in other words, I’ll always owe you something. Since you don’t accept money as payment, I’ll always have to stay with you. And I can’t leave or buy the room either, so basically, what I become is the slave of an emotionally weak, filthy-rich master. Don’t you think you’re forcing this onto me a bit?”
“Are you rejecting me?”
I would never. There’s money involved. What kind of idiot would turn down this opportunity? It’s a cruel thing to do to a naive girl like her, and she is also aware that she won’t get a real friend, and despite that…
“You have the wrong idea about me.” She interrupts my thoughts. “I’m forcing nothing. This is just a relationship completely based on my money and worldly belongings.” To my utter surprise, she sounds like she’s saying that with a straight face. I look at her silhouette, completely dumbfounded. She knows what this relationship is, and yet, she’s willing to take the risk and become anyone’s stepping stool.
A human ATM.
For her, anyone would have sufficed. For her, losing everything is better than being left alone. Yes; this is just a relationship completely based on money and worldly belongings, and by saying that, she revealed she had no problem with it.
What is going on inside her mind?
“People say relationships based on money would fail on arrival, or won’t last more than a sunset,” I state, trying to unearth how she thinks, or at least, determine if she actually thinks.
“People lie.” so, this is her answer. “Every other person in my life befriended me because of my money, but you’re befriending me because I’m paying you.”
“Is there any difference?”
“There is. A big one, in fact.” She clenches her fists, brings her hands close to her mouth, and heaves her warmth into them.
“Will you please hurry? Or shall I jump? The November weather is chilly. My hands are already freezing, and I’m getting cold feet as well.”
“Spare me the wordplay. I take the deal. From now on, I will be your friend. And you will be my boss.”
On this night, unlike my original intention to put an end to my dreadful existence, I end up making a contract with Naomi Mitaki, a girl that arrived in this town six months ago, and…