And so here I am, standing less than four inches away from the edge, about to jump off…
How in the world did I get to this point, where my next step forward is a leap from this height, out into space? The truth is: I don’t know…
The past few months of my life have been a blur, so much vagueness like a veil that my mind cannot penetrate. I recall that in the beginning, when all of this started, it was so clear to me. I had so many ambitions and a sense of utter purposefulness, knowing what it was I was about to go forth and achieve. That time seems suddenly so very far away. Because now, all that is left is doubt. Every bit of confidence, whatever faith I might have once had is now gone as though it were never there, drained away as if a plug in some bath tub had been pulled to let out the water.
Only hours before, I spoke to my wife and tried to share my concerns and my feelings. I wanted to tell someone how I felt, to put into words the thoughts of despair running through my mind, and who else to express myself to than the woman I love? She knows me so well that there are times when I believe she knows me even better than I know myself. But when I spoke, when she heard the words pouring out of my mouth, she raised a hand to shush me. She gave me a gentle smile and waved aside my apprehensions, whispering only that I was worried about nothing, that the hard reality was that I didn’t anything to fear.
And so here i am now, looking down upon the world from this height, all alone. I do not know if I have ever felt so alone in all my life. I feel desolate now, abandoned, and a sense of emptiness sweeps through me, making me shiver.
I peer below, and all I can see are a sea of faces. They are looking up, at me. I cannot make out their faces, but I can see their expressions. Some of them will close their eyes when I jump. Others will gasp out loud, unable to help themselves. And some of them will hold their breath.
I wonder if my wife is down there already. Is she looking up at me, hands clutched to her mouth? Is she thinking over the words we exchanged this morning? Does she wish she had listened more carefully, had sat down with me, given me more time, and showed more concern? I let out my breath, lips stiff. Well, it is too late for that now. She had her chance…
Some of the people below are holding out their mobile phones. No doubt they want to record my fall, catching for all eternity the sight of my body tumbling through the air. There is a camera crew already there, but some of them want it on their phones, for their personal collection, I suppose. I hope they won’t be disappointed. I can just imagine my body falling through space, hurtling downward, hitting the surface below, four floors below me. In my present state of mind, I wonder what I will feel as I fly through the air. Will it be freedom, like a bird soaring through the air currents, or will I feel consumed from within, like a soul condemned? Perhaps I will feel nothing at all.
A slight breeze ruffles my hair, and the sudden cold brings goose-bumps all across my skin. I look up, noticing the dark clouds gathering in the near horizon. They look ominous. Grim. It is like a reflection of my mood, I think wonderingly. There will be rain later. And just as soon as that thought hits me, there is another: will it even matter?
I hear the scream of a siren of an emergency vehicle. It is loud and piercing and though I can see nothing from my station, I can sense that the sound is getting louder. It is getting nearer. It is coming this way.
I take a step closer to the edge. My bare toes are only a few inches away from empty space. I imagine the heightened sense of anticipation down below as people catch my movement. Those who didn’t will be alerted immediately by the sudden change in mood. Faces will all turn in the same direction, all eager not to miss the moment.
My heart is pounding and I am aware that if I hold out my hands, they will surely be trembling. But I don’t do that, because I know that somewhere a camera or more may catch it, and that video clip will be replayed many times afterwards. I don’t want that: I don’t want anyone to know how I felt in these final moments. No one should suspect that I was anything but supremely confident.
My throat is now dry and I am glad that no one is around, for I would probably not even to be able to utter a coherent word.
I look up to heaven briefly, asking for a blessing and stretch out my hands, toes caressing the very edge of the precipice. A hush sweeps through the audience below, but my mind ignores it, shutting out all further input.
I then leap off the springboard.
I drop cleanly through the air. It is only seconds but it feels like eternity and all I can hear as I plunge is the thud of my heart beat in my ears, mouth sealed tight to trap the air in my lungs.
I cut the surface of the water, making only the tiniest of splashes and surge through the swimming pool and head for the side.
My wife is already there, crouching and there is a broad smile on her face and her hands are both tight in rejoicing. And I look at the numbers flashing on the scoreboard and I too begin to smile.