Extract from Project 2 (3)

I fall, and it feels like the longest time but it mustn’t be since all I have time to think is ‘I hope I don’t make it’, wishing myself to land on something hard and fatal, and for my mind to stop, forever. But I land in water, and against my will my arms and legs react so that I break the surface and inhale deep. I try to stop moving, to sink, but the current is strong and I get tossed around so much that I can’t help myself. If I were to try and look back to where I fell from, to see if Damon came running, I wouldn’t be able to – I am already far down the river – but I wouldn’t anyway. Suddenly the water stills a little, and my thoughts catch up, willing me once more to stop fighting for survival, reminding me of its pointlessness. But when I stop swimming, I float instead. And when I bump against a rock protruding from the side of the stream I cling to it, but at least I don’t climb it. I remain, shivering, in the cold water which is still moving strong enough to tug at me. I look back to where I came from, the cliffs on either side of the water looking harsh and eager to kill, and I marvel, unfeeling, at the fact that I survived the fall. I turn and look where I would go, were I to let go of my hold. It is more of the same, rocky constellations overseeing the flow from each side, which looks to be getting more violent further down. I am fairly certain that even if my body would instinctively swim, it would not be able to stay above the surface for long. I close my eyes and try to maneuver the thoughts. The feelings that were still taking my body hostage before I stepped over the edge all fell away when I did, and now I have none. If grabbing a hold of the rock I am clinging to was instinctive, I now find myself at a point where a conscious choice must be made. In descending order I can tell my body to move; lift itself out of the water and search for shelter, or I can tell only my hands to act; to let go of the hold they’ve saved me with and end it, admittedly with more pain than I hoped for when falling, but with the same result. Or I can do neither. Dwell in the apathy that the inner void I am experiencing comes with, until my body fails or someone – Damon or Hannah being the only likely candidates – finds me. My thoughts find their way back to the first option, and instantly want to back away again since it is not just those steps – getting my body out of the water and then finding shelter – rather, it paves the way for an endless line of actions and decisions. Which seems to me unbelievably tiring. And running the risk of much more pain along the way than is waiting for me down the stream, should I go with option two. Both require effort though, and for a long while I remain motionless, letting my thoughts quiet down slowly, until I only occasionally give the sensation of cold attention. Then from nowhere words that Hannah once said to me appear in my head.
“The alternative bores me.”
They are what get me out, in the end.

Leap of faith

”Did you hear everything I just said?” I ask, and she nods.
She has at least stepped away from the ledge, but has found something else to balance on. I try to control my breathing, make it slower, as I observe her putting one step in front of the other on the plank of wood that for some reason has found its way to the roof of the building. Her arms flail a little, and even though a misstep from where she is right now wouldn’t hurt her, I try to address her endeavor as if it would.
“Keep your eyes straight ahead”, I advice her, since she’s looking straight down.
“But then I wouldn’t see where I’m putting my feet”, she objects, moving closer to the middle of the plank. “I’d fall for sure.”
“Alright”, I surrender. “If you’re certain that’s the best way for you to do it, it’s fine. But you mustn’t do it anywhere nearer the edge, can we agree on that?”
She nods again.
“Are you nodding just because you know I want you to?”
She doesn’t reply, but I wait. When she reaches the end of the plank she stops and looks up, stares at the horizon, then replies to me.
“Yes. I think we want different things.”
I want to shout at her, but manage not to. I try to find solace in her honesty.
“How do you mean?”
She does a little jump off the plank, which causes it to clatter and my heart to jump.
“Well”, she ponders, still not looking at me. “Maybe it’s different ways of seeing the things we want. But I do trust you, I trust you want what’s best for me.”
“I do”, I interject, which causes her to face me with a smile, as she continues.
“And I love you for it. It means a lot to me.”
She is still too far away from me for comfort, but the warmth in that smile reaches me full force. As long as we’re talking I can accept the fact that I can’t move closer, relying on my words to be enough to steer her movements.
“It means a lot to me too”, I tell her. “And I don’t think we see things that differently at all.”
“Oh but we do”, she objects, and the certainty with which she says it terrifies me.
Or if it is the glint in her eyes.
“Even if we did”, I try, not wanting to carry on down the path she seems intent on. “I think we should be careful and listen very closely to each other before doing anything rash.”
She pouts her lips, seemingly giving what I’m saying some thought.
“It wouldn’t be rash”, she then informs me. “If you knew what I knew.”
She looks at me with a knowing smile, willing me to question her about it, but something inside is screaming for me not to and I desperately try to find something else to say. Anything that will engage her. But before I get a chance to she tells me anyway.
“That I can fly.”
And she runs straight out into the air.