Part 1: Chapter 1
In the end, there wasn’t much. The sterile light of the bathroom. Her wrists, stretched out before her like a long deserted highway, the horizon neatly marked by a red sunrise. There was water, a mirror, and her own face. Emily. Julia. No, she was still Emily. Emily Carson. She was, she still was, for now.
The affair began long before Julia, before Julia was even an idea. Her lover cooed to her a thing like she had never known. A thing so sweet and beautiful she’d been seduced before she even said its name. It began innocently, as all things do. It began with a rooftop.
Emily had never liked parties. She always found her way into the corners of things and stayed there until someone forced her back. The corner here was held in by a railing. It was not the railing’s fault.
At the horizon, the city looked like a solid mass, every building packed together into one creature that stood dark and tall in front of the sky. There were no stars. The light of the buildings was bright and cold.
Emily ran her hands along the rail, feeling the thin metal bars like the boundary of something. She looked down. The feeling in her stomach wasn’t fear. It was the feeling she’d had watching the sunrise over the ocean, the waves stretching away into eternity, and beyond that, a world she could scarcely imagine. She felt restless.
She checked over her shoulder. The rest of the rooftop was full of couples, acutely occupied with their mingling. Somewhere over there was Troy, but he wasn’t looking for her yet. She turned back to the railing and listened.
It said nothing, so she counted to three.
At first, she watched each window sail by, up and off into another world she no longer belonged to. She could see people behind them, washing their dishes and arguing. She waved at them. A woman screamed, but the sound died in the rushing of the air. She fell faster. The windows blurred into a waterfall of light. Faster and faster, while a man in one apartment craned his neck to see what had zipped by. Down to the cheaper apartments. Down to the streetlights. Down, fast and clean all the way to the ground and then it was over. The people on the rooftop didn’t even notice. They didn’t see the stiletto catch on the railing while her body tumbled out of sight.
Then it was gone. Emily felt cool metal bars under her hands once more and the dream slipped from her head. She turned to face Troy, feeling suddenly guilty. No, it was not to be today. She had Troy. He put an arm around her shoulders and drew her against him, and standing by his side, the edge seemed far away.