it’s busy. when i’m writing i tend to forget that the world around me spins. there’s chatter. there’s the occasional joke and the obliging laughter. but i’m cocooned inside my cube. my hearing blocked by headphones. my brows tucked in awful concentration.
which is why it shouldn’t be surprising to find myself confused by the strange atmosphere. around me, people are whispering. others wore this worried expression. but when i look them in the eye, they’d move away to get that paper.
“he’s not budging,” one of our IT guy says from the back.
the admin went up with him. our office occupies two floors, those in the upper floor were sent down (but not without the listless whispering). i figured that if no one’s telling me anything, perhaps, it’s not my business to know. but as i was making my way back to my cube, I came across more and more whispers. this time, I’ve put the words together.
in. the. ledge. he’s.
that was 6 pm. it’s quarter to 8 now. they’ve had his best buddies talk him out of jumping. even the police folks’ negotiation skills have been tested.
“he’s not budging.”
it’s a mystery, why he hasn’t jumped yet. but i’m here, in front of the glass door of the upper floor balcony. i didn’t came up with anything impressive to say to our crisis team, except wanting to try. maybe i sounded sincere when i said it. who cares, i’m here.
a strong swoosh meets my sweating face. it’s soothing and cool against my skin. he looked at me, tightly gripping the bars, with a practiced leaping gait.
he looked like he was priming for death.
“160 stories,” i stammered. it was dark. I couldn’t see his face so I went on.
“Burj Khalifa is 160 stories tall. This is definitely not as tall.”
a skidding noise.
“Not that it matters. Who cares how tall this building is when you jump? And that’s brave. No, not the jumping part. But you standing here, causing a panic in the office, letting everyone know that it’s not alright. This is brave.”
another swooshing sound. it’s too dark, I couldn’t see his expression.
“But there are other things that require this kind of brave.”
scraping sound of shoes against metal.
“standing here, it’s brave. but so is sleeping. and.. and… waking up”
swooshing sound against my ears
“as you are”
—the last three words struck me as odd, as if I’m hearing it from another person’s mouth. Speaking of mouth, mine felt dry, sucked by the cold air up here. I stepped one unsteady foot off the ledge, into the safety of the balcony floor. my knees suddenly felt weak, i had to curl down and stable my breathing.
when I look up and face the glass door, i noticed one solitary reflection: