I hung up the phone and I realized that I had to end it with Jacob.
I knew that it was time to pay penance for the sins I'd
I'm pretty sure I'd actually wanted to stay with him forever. I knew then that even being attracted to him was
silly, stupid and pointless; but just looking at Jacob made me ache. I
had to have him.
But I knew it would come to an end at some point. I knew that there were
too many external influences to allow me to be happy in loving him - and
when this came down I knew that it was all over.
So at lunch, while Jacob was at work, I made some calls. I began the
whole thing, set so much into motion that I couldn't stop it. I leapt over
I opened the sliding door to the balcony and stood next to the rail,
looked down ten stories.
I had to be empty.
The June sun burned down on my shoulders and I stared face-down while it
blazed on the back of my head and neck, snaked down my shoulders and back as
I pressed my bare stomach against the hot black rail. I actually wondered-
for a moment - what his reaction might be if I jumped instead of ran away.
What if I allowed my feet to lose hold of the ground and just flip over the
edge? God, I wanted to. That would be so much easier than taking a knife and
cutting him out of my life as I was planning.
But I didn’t want to be dead.
If I'd jumped, someone would get him from work or he would have to take a
fucking bus home to find bits of me splattered all over the pavement - blood
and gore on impatiens and roses and shrubs. At least, if I died, he'd love
But the truth would find its way to him and he'd be glad I was dead. The
truth might eventually find him as it was, and having him far away might make it easier to bear when that happened.
I'd spent ten years of my life mired in a search for some kind of truth.
I'd spent hundreds of hours praying to a silent god to make me normal, and
now I prayed to lose my mind.
For a moment I lost my footing and almost completed my act of bitter
rebellion against my own stupid mistakes, but I caught myself with my knee
and grabbed the rail hard as everything spun around me.
I wasn't going to end it there like that. There were many ways to jump. I
was just taking the longer road.
Self-accusations screeched in my head. These were more of the same voices
that told me for years that I was a freak, I was a sinner... now those same
voices telling me I was getting what I deserved.
I won't go into the details of what I'd done. It's none of your fucking business, anyway. It was just... an unfortunate series of missteps.
I'd realized that it would be better to live numb and empty.
I sat there, in my underwear, for at least an hour after the near miss,
and contemplated what I would say and leave, and where I would go. I pulled
up my knees, wrapped my arms around my legs and stared through the bars at
the cloudless sky.
I had to be empty before I broke his heart; I had to pay a penance for
The sun blazed overhead, burned my skin.
You're not supposed to do it, stare directly at the sun. But I always
want to. There were times in the car, when Jacob and I would drive to the
ocean and the overcast sky would be just thick enough to turn the sun into a
red orb with clean, precise edges. I would stare at it, even as it moved
behind thinner clouds and became painfully bright. I've done it a thousand times. I should have
cinders in the backs of my eyes at this point. I
would always see the damage as odd colored ghosts and dying afterimages. As they
faded I'd look back into the dimmer parts of the sky and see the spots as
dying, potential suns - losing strength in the chilly universe, sliding across the sky with
the turn of my eyes.
This time I kept staring.
When I was a kid I used the sun as a device of torture. I would sit on
the sidewalk with a magnifying glass and fry anything that came into sight.
I brought pinpoint agony to armies of red and black ants; held
fluttering grasshoppers prisoner in my persistent fingers until they died; beetles smoldered
and popped like chestnuts. I found this amusing enough to repeat thousands of times. I left
a holocaust in the wake of my childhood.
It's so easy to be cruel to things that come at you in the billions. When
things exist in such numbers, you're not even sure if the death of a million
would even make a mark in some collective consciousness. I burned millions.
It's not that I regret the carnage and torture; I regret the fact
that it brought me such joy.
Maybe my mistake was the culmination of all of the sins and fears and
regrets of my youth. Maybe I should've ended my days like some burned out
filament in a
light bulb - a wave of heat and agony, a puff of smoke.
I looked up, burned through tears, until I could stand it no longer. I
finally looked away, held my face in my hands, and sobbed: I had to be empty.
Behind my eyelids, the sun's ghost played emerald pain in my head. My
face, pressed against my hands, was wet with tears. How long had it been
since I had actually cried in pain? Ten years? A hundred? What was I crying
about, really? Was it the fact that I had stupidly hurt myself or the fact
that I was stupidly preparing to make someone I loved hate me? He was
going to hate me.
I focused on the green hole behind my eyelids, tried to forget the
consequences of what I’d done, and soon, the hole was all that I knew. When
I opened my eyes, the waking world was simply a ghost behind the sun. My
every other thought and focused on the globe of pain in my head.
It was time to finish, time to start building a new life around my
mistakes, and time to get rid of him. I had to make sure he never came back.
Jacob would be home at seven, so that left me little time. I'd sharpened the
knife that would cut him out of my life forever. Now it was time to
The world was a shadow behind the sun. I was empty.