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 committed.

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 the edge.

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 me.

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 doing it.

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 brain excluded 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 use it..

The world was a shadow behind the sun. I was empty.



Get out. This whole thing - you moving in and us trying to make a go of being together - it was a mistake. I don't plan on continuing it. Right now, I'm gone; don't try to find me - because you won't. I cleaned out our bank accounts and I took the car - don't bother trying to report it stolen because you know that it was in my name.

I've left you 20 bucks. I don't know what that will get you, maybe part of a bus ticket back to Illinois, or Iowa or wherever the fuck you came from - but I don't care - find your own fucking way home. Since you're not on my lease I told the landlord that you've got a heroin habit and I kicked you out after you started stealing shit. He's going to change the locks in the morning. You should probably take what you can and get out tonight, he's going to call the police if he finds you there.

If you were better looking, or if you could hold an intelligent conversation, I might be able to ignore the fact that you're such a lousy fuck. But hey, I can only stand charity cases for so long and ... you know, I just think it's time you left.

I can't help it if I got tired of you so I think I'll just skip all of the bullshit about love and happiness and dedication and just tell you that you made a mistake in loving me. I never want to see you again- fuck off.



next: Jacob: arrives