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12. Breathing

The next second, I see the gutter on the side of the house and I grab onto it, my weight making it bend. I hold on to it, hoping it won’t break. Praying it won’t.

I hear my mom start to panic.

“Hold on, honey!” She shouts and runs inside.

“Really?” I scream, the sarcasm thick with fear.

The gutter starts to move a bit. My breathing gets shallow. What if this is my time to go? What if I get what I’ve been wanting for the past week or so? What if this is it? If I end up just like John and Tobiah…

My fingers start to slip, wet with sweat.

The window by my feet opens and my mom pokes her head out.

“Give me your feet,” she calls.

Struggling, I try and swing them to her. The gutter bends a bit more. I look down at the ground that seems so far away…

I can hear my breath start to come out in wheezes.

Could I survive if I fell? Could I make it?

The gutter moves again and I try one more time to get my legs into my moms arms. I feel her fingers close around one of my ankles, and then the other one. She’s got me.

What now?

The gutter moves again, and I can feel sweat start to collect all over my body.

My mom starts to pull my legs toward her and I start to panic as the feeling of vertigo takes over me.

“Mom! Mom, I can’t do it,” I say, feeling a tear slip down my cheek.

“Yes you can, Amabel!”

“No I can’t!” A sob escapes my throat. Maybe I don’t really want to die. Maybe I do want to live.

“Honey, Amabel, sweetie, grab the top of the windowsill and pull yourself inside.”


“One hand—one hand at a time. Go.”

I nod and reach with my right hand first. I can feel my fingers slipping of the metal gutter as I do.

I hold onto the windowsill tightly, my knuckles turning white. I nod to let her know I’m secure with my hold and try to bring my other hand to it as well.

I do it quickly, a brief sense of falling gushes through me, but it goes away as I slip into the room. My mom pulls me in and hugs me tightly, and I’m thankful she’s sober. If she was drunk… Who knows? I probably wouldn’t be breathing right now.

“Don’t you ever get up on that roof ever again, do you hear me Amabel Doll?” She says, pulling me away for a brief second to inspect me for any wounds.

I nod and she pulls me in for another hug. I return it, feeling like I need it, like we both need it.

We stand there for a good while, taking our time letting go. My mind drifts off to Tobiah. I wish he could see this. Wish he could be a part of it…

“Mom?” I ask quietly as I pull away.

“Yes dear?” She asks, wiping her eyes.

“Do you think Tobiah made it to heaven?”

She looks at me and I can see the debate in her eyes.

“Don’t sugar coat it. I want a real answer,” I say.

My mom sighs and looks around the room briefly. We’re on the second story that holds Tobiah’s room, every nook and cranny spotless and shining.

“I don’t know, Amabel,” She says sadly, her voice cracking with emotion. “I don’t think anyone knows, really. You just have to know where you stand with God and pray that you make it, I guess…”

She pulls me in for another hug and I find myself staring at his door, as if it would open at any moment now. Looking at it with the hope he’d come striding out, smiling, and start talking about football or weightlifting, or the girl he’s had a crush on since grade school… but I realize the false hope that I hold inside and look away, knowing that he’s gone. Forever.

I find myself in his room later that day, opening the door quietly, waiting for him to tell me to get out. But the threat never comes and my heart sinks.

I sit down on the chair by his desk, noticing the corner of it is chipped. It’s probably one of the things he had turned over when he went on his rampage after the accident on the stairs.

I touch it absentmindedly and look around the room. His bed sits on the back corner, the dark blue blanket neatly pressed against his mattress, waiting for him to return for a good night’s sleep. Everything is spotless and nothing is out of place.

It’s like he’s not gone at all.

I break down, sobs shaking my body. John and Tobiah… both gone because of me.

The funeral is the next weekend after the incident. Family members come for support and to see him off… They try to tell us that they’re sorry for our loss… How can they be sorry? Why do they have to pity us?

I try my hardest not to cry. I feel like he wouldn’t want me to. But I do, quietly, but barely. I try to hold it in. I try to stay strong. I try to put on the doll-face and try to slip into the Doll-Syndrome I’ve always seemed to have, but I think better of it, knowing it would get me no where.

So I cry.

John’s was last week’s. I went through all of this the first time there. Only it wasn’t as hard. I’m not saying it wasn’t as sad or I didn’t love John… I did. I really, really did. Do… But for that one, I knew I had to be strong for his family. They were worse off than I was, considering they’re his actual blood…

My family and I don’t say much for weeks. My parents seem to have forgotten about their decision to divorce for the time being, but that won’t last long.

And then the day comes where we have our family meeting in the living room…

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