The night was cold and dark, but the city streets beneath me were busy and brimming with life. I stood atop the roof of my apartment building, attempting to gather enough courage to get on the ledge. Over the course of the past three months, I’ve tried to do this three times. The child was with me now, clad in his tattered He-Man pajamas. Judging from his appearance he was around five or six maybe. Nobody else saw him. No matter how many times I opened or closed my eyes, he was always around somewhere. It started with dreams, but then a he began following me to work and staying in my closet at night. He should be nothing but bones now, yet he was right behind me. He was present at the AA meetings I rarely attended now, and even at Christmas dinner with my mother at that godforsaken nursing home. I ruined my life with alcohol. I ruined his life with alcohol.
Quitting now was out of the question, I just needed to die. Ever since I heard that crunch under my tires and drove on in a drunken panic; I needed to die. Every day felt like a painful dream state since the boy arrived. I could hear his intact leg dragging the broken one behind it as he shuffled his way toward me. Crunch, drag, crunch, drag...There was a crater sized hole in the left side of his head, at least nothing was leaking out anymore. Every day I could see the natural deterioration of a human taking place on him, but very slowly. We never talked, there was nothing to talk about. I killed that child and now he was with me, every hour of every day, haunting me.
I wasn’t even on the ledge yet when a couple of spectators and a few street cops noticed me up on the roof. I refused to listen to their pleas; tonight I wasn’t bluffing. The rent was already paid for this month, leaving behind my final mortal tether to this world. Before the accident I had nothing, but now I had even less. I sat down to pray for a minute, but came to the conclusion that it was useless. We both knew what was waiting for me, and I was ready for it. I got up and felt my legs shake a bit. Standing up now, I stepped up onto the rooftop. The boy was sitting to the right of me. He was staring at the array of civilians and policemen with what I thought was mild interest. While looking down I, unconsciously took another step toward my demise. One slip now would send me over. The metallic door of the apartment’s roof slammed open, and I almost lost my balance. A man slowly stepped out. I knew why he was here and decided to humor him for a minute.
“Hello,” he started slow, “My name is Detective Andrews. Would you like to tell me yours?”
I ignored his introduction. You could tell that Detective Andrews was not up for this today. His assumably otherwise clean-shaven face was rough and patchy. His unkempt brown hair was all over the place, and those eyes of his were as dead as the boy’s that I ran over. None of his colleagues thought to tell him that there was lint all over his work jacket. I decided not to tell him either. A child murderer shouldn’t go around critiquing others, let alone have the right to live. I ignored his introduction, but paused to listen to him.
“Okay,” he continued, “Do you wanna tell me what’s wrong? I’m here to listen you know, but I can talk if you want. I’m from the suburbs west of this place. What about you? Do you have a family? I’m sure they’ll miss you if...” his voice trailed off.
Detective Andrews was really not on his A game today. I laughed at the thought that the police must want me dead too. The boy was behind me now and he looked confused. His pale lips were pressed together and tears formed in his filmy, decaying eyes. This irritated me for some reason. He shouldn’t be able to cry, he was a corpse. Corpses didn’t cry.
“Leave me alone! Don’t you have a family you should be with now? I get that you don’t want to wipe me up off of the pavement, but we both know how this is going to end! Do you even know what it’s like to be so guilt ridden that you start hallucinating? Come lecture me when you have dead people staring at you! You aren’t qualified for this, go home.”
After my episode, I turned my attention to the boy. At some point during my rant, he moved over to the negotiator and began to weep at his feet.
“Actually, I probably should be at home. My wife and I are going through a lot right now. We lost our son in October.” He choked up and we made unsettling eye contact. “It was the worst at the beginning, and once November rolled around things seemed better. Then Christmas came and it all fell apart again. You know how little kids get about Christmas. He wouldn’t stop bugging me about Ninja Turtles or those Super Nintendo things last December. Now I miss every second of it. I miss it all. It’s a terrible thing to lose a child you know. We all have someone who will miss us when we’re gone, and I’m sure you do too.”
A horrible realization crept it’s way into my head, like a leech digging into my skin. It was fate now. I had to jump, didn’t I? It would only be appropriate of me. It was practically common courtesy now. Hell, I’d do him one better and aim to impale myself on the lamp post down there. The boy and I were both crying now. I looked up into the sky and took slow breaths. Andrews caught onto what I was planning.
With a panicked look on his face, he yelled, “Come down please!”
I jumped. As my descent continued, a sense of liberation grew. Old Jack Daniels wasn’t spry enough to follow me over the rooftop- I was finally free. The new salvation that I sought in death greeted my as my head smacked against the wintry pavement. Nothingness ensued.
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