I look to my left. The balcony doors are wide open, wind gushes through and the curtains are blown inwards. I see the shadow. A figure through the curtains. I walk towards the balcony and gasp. Jen stands on the balcony rail, teetering on the edge. I can hear her shuddering breaths of anxiety and I hear her cries clearly past the roaring wind. My heart beats rapidly, forcing blood through my body and into my brain. I’m scared to call her, scared that she might slip. She pushes herself against the gales to stay balanced. She’s… she’s distraught. Not thinking right. God, what is she doing!
“Jen…” I breathe softly, frightened by what is happening in front of my eyes. Frightened of what she is about to do.
She turns her head only, still balancing, petrified and unsure of what to do. Her face is red and wet with tears, she finds her way into my eyes, crying. Then… her foot slips!
My feet move. My arms stretch out long. I leap. Her shriek pierces my ears. I close my eyes and for a split second, my whole world stops.
* * *
I can still hear the cry in my ears and I can still see the balcony when I close my eyes. For some reason, this image scares me more… more than anything that came after that. I remember it so clearly even though it’s the time I want to forget the most. It’s strange to think that it ever happened, because God and fate had different plans.
I remember the day I got my A-Level results. Results Day. It was warm and humid with crowds of students bunched into groups of lifelong friends. Some cried with sorrow, some cried with joy, some just stood still, shocked, looking down at the white piece of A4 paper they held, the results, which our teachers and parents told us our lives depended on. But my life depended on something else.
‘Kyara Averoni’ was written on my envelope. I just stared at it, lost in my own world. My heart was pounding in my throat, I swallowed hard to counteract the dull pain. My hands were shaking and I remember thinking how stupid I was because I always did well at school. I studied hard as usual, yet I was afraid of something. Then I realized, it wasn’t the results I was worried about, it was moving on to the next step – the final step – of education. When I opened the envelope and unfolded my A4 piece of paper to reveal my grade ‘A’ final results, I recall mixed emotions. My results were good. Great in fact! I smiled, and then read the writing near the bottom of the page. I had been accepted into university – the final stage of education, the dream of academics, and the dream of my parents as the first person in our family to ever get to this stage. That’s when my smile faded, my heart ached and my eyes filled with tears. It was like standing in a house not a home. My friends had chosen subjects they actually wanted to study. My friend Emily was a top student, her grades were exceptional. Teachers pushed her to apply for medicine because she had the potential, she did apply for it but then pulled out because she wanted to follow her heart, she wanted to be a school teacher, she wanted to teach six year olds mathematics and English and she did it. She followed her heart. At that point in time, I thought she would be the only person I’d ever meet who ignored the teachers – our guiders – to follow her heart and I admired her courage. However, with my mind set on pleasing my parents and taking the easy route that would make me reasonably rich, I accepted that I would study physics at university. But then, life took me on a different path, one much different from Emily’s straight subject swap over. A path that still haunts me but a path that I cherished while on it, a path that I cherish today and a path that I will cherish forever.