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A few seconds passed before I noticed that the tingling feeling in the pit of my stomach (which should've been tearing me up since I was falling) wasn't there. I didn't even feel the wind whipping around my skinny frame. What was going on? I was too afraid to open my eyes and see. They'd clamped shut after I'd gone completely over.
I know that it wasn't because I suddenly got brave and found the courage from somewhere deep inside me to open my eyes. It was the curiosity in me that made me open them finally and see what was going on. At first I thought I was levitating because everything was still. I wasn't falling. My head turned from the right and looked straight ahead to see the reason for my `levitation'. The other kid had grabbed a hold of my outstretched hand with his own and was keeping me from falling any further.
There is not a word to describe how thankful I should've
been to see him there keeping me from falling, and I was definitely.
But I more confused. How had he gotten over to the wall in enough
time to reach me? Not even the fastest person in the world could've
covered that kind of ground in enough time. Somehow, some way, he
had done it. Then there was the fact that he was holding onto my
outstretched hand with his own one hand. Yes. One hand.
It didn't even look (or feel) like he was straining.
"I can still let you go if you want me to." he said, giving me a chance to reconsider my near fatal decision.
I didn't even have to think about my answer.
My head shook quickly `no'.
"Don't let go." I told him in a shaking voice. "Please, don't let me go."
Without even trying, he pulled me up and over the wall and back onto solid ground.
For a moment we just stood there staring at one another. My heart was crashing so hard against my rib cage that I was afraid it might crack the ribs that were protecting it. My body was trembling so badly and my knees were so weak that it took some effort from me just to continue standing. This stranger, some kid I'd never met before had just saved my life. Why?
Suddenly the shock of what I'd just tried to do returned.
My stomach churned and I collapsed to my knees and fought hard against
the urge to throw up. I fought, but it beat me without lifting a
finger and I blew all over the sidewalk a good four or five times.
The other kid went down with me, now on my left side. He put the hand that
he'd used to save me on my shoulder.
"Just calm down, man. You're okay. Your safe. It's over." he said, trying to comfort me.
I could feel the tears collecting in my eyes and
my nose start to run. I sniffled one time, trying to hold it all
back, and spat a couple of times to get the nasty taste out of my mouth.
"Thank you." I said, my voice cracking for the first time in awhile. "Now, go away."
I shrugged his hand off my shoulder, stood up and walked away. I made it to the tree he'd been standing by earlier, before I couldn't hold back anymore. It all came out. All the pain, all the sadness, the shock of almost coming face to face with death. Everything came out. I collapsed with my back against the tree and slid down it into a sitting position and let it happen. I didn't care if the other kid was still there and if he saw me. I figured he probably already thought I was psycho for trying to kill myself.
You know you're crying pretty hard when you choke yourself up and start coughing. I did it three times. The last time I'd cried that hard was at my parents' funeral. Ricky's was a close second. Everything I'd been holding in wanted to get out of me. I let it. There was no point in trying to lock it back down now.
Despite my telling the other kid to go away, he was
still there. It's like how you can be in the house and you can't
hear that a television is on somewhere in the house, but you can feel it
or I guess sense it. That's the kind of vibe I was getting from him.
It felt distant at first, but it got closer gradually until I thought it
was right next to me. I managed to clear my right eye of tears long
to look and see that he was sitting almost beside me against the tree,
looking out straight ahead.
"I...I thought I...told you to go...go away." I managed to get out between sobs.
"Hey I've been coming here since long before you knew this place existed, so if anybody has the right to tell anybody to leave, it's me." he said.
Sniffling hard to try and clear up my nose,
I took a few moments to try and calm myself down. It took some serious
effort, but when I finally got the river to quit flowing down my face,
I looked over at him and asked,
"Why are you doing this?"
Hopefully he'd know that I was asking about
everything he'd done since the two of us had crossed paths. From
him trying to talk me out of killing myself to him still being with me
at the very second. I'm pretty sure he knew how I meant it, because
a hint of a smile crossed his lips and he replied.
"Because, I'm just a nice guy."
I don't know how that short response broke
through all the negative things I was feeling and made me laugh a little.
It kinda shocked me that I'd even laughed and I spent a couple of seconds
confused by the fact that I'd done it.
"So, you can smile." he pretended to be surprised.
I rolled my eyes and looked back forward.
He looked at me, his face serious now, and intuition told me what time it was about to be. I thought about getting up and leaving while I still had the chance, but for some obscene reason, I didn't move.
"Why?" he asked.
Yep, that's what time I figured it was about
to be. And since my trusty legs didn't want to cooperate in order
to get me out of there before he asked me, I decided to do the next best
thing. Play stupid.
"Why what?" I asked.
"Why were you going to jump?"
I still kept facing forward, drying a stray
tear that had started falling down my face from the left eye, and shrugged.
"What's it to you?"
"Enough to ask you."
I hadn't opened up to my foster parents, and those were the people who had opened up their home to me, had tried to be nothing but nice and caring toward me, and had tried everything in the book to try and ease me out of my shell. So why was I even considering the idea of answering this kid, who I didn't know the first thing about, and opening up to him? I don't even know myself honestly. All I know is that I was quiet for awhile before I finally answered him.
Initially I was pretty vague about things, only touching on a particular thing for a quick moment and then moving on to the next. He never pushed me to go any deeper into the details, but he did listen to me and he did have responses and reactions to the things I said. He was saddened when I told him about my parents' death and even apologized. I accepted. He didn't see why the kids at school flipped out so much just because I liked skateboarding and dressed like one. He was like: "You'd think that by now people in high school would realize how big and diverse a place it is. Not everyone is going to walk, talk, act, look, or think the same. For them to even think that that's how it's going to be is just flat out stupid." I had to agree with that. It wasn't cool having people come at me with their bullshit just because I wasn't who or what they thought I should be. He said that was human nature, though, and as messed up as it was, I had to agree with him.
There were a few more moments silence before I finished
up and told him that those were the reasons why I was there and why I was
ready to take the plunge. Normally I can tell when somebody is just
doing the smile and nod thing, pretending to understand, or saying a few
choice words and pretending to be on your side. This kid was either
pretending really well, or he understood everything completely. I
felt like what I'd told him hadn't fallen on deaf ears and that he'd really
wanted to hear what it was that I had to say. And it felt good to
"And now that I've sat here and told you all my problems like you wanted to hear all of that." I said, feeling really self-conscious now.
"I am the one who asked. If I wasn't interested in knowing, I wouldn't have said anything, so don't stress it." he told me, but I still felt awkward.
"Yeah, I guess so. It's just that I'm normally not this open with people who's first names I don't even know.
"That's right. We did everything but introduce ourselves, huh?"
He turned his body toward me a little and extended
his hand out to me in friendship and smiled.
I didn't know how to react at first. It almost
seemed like forever since another kid had even gotten near the attempt
to introduce themselves to me in a way that didn't involve a diss or a
fist. It was a couple of seconds before I reached out my hand in
friendship, finally, and shook his.
"It's nice to meet you."
"Nice to meet you too."
We ended our shake.
"Thank you." I told him. "For saving me and for listening to me."
I couldn't remember if I'd said that already.
If I had, then here it was a second time. I owed him big time.
Saying thank you didn't seem like enough.
"Don't thank me. You're the one who made the final decision." he responded.
And I had, but still. If it hadn't have
been for him grabbing my hand (somehow) then I wouldn't have been around
to even make the decision. I told him that and asked him how I could
repay him. He accepted my thanks and then a very serious look came
to his face as he told me,
"There only one thing I want from you, and that's a promise. I want you to promise me that you'll never do anything like this again."
That was a promise that would've been easy
to abide by if I didn't live in the real world. Yeah, I was okay
now that I'd gotten the chance to talk to someone. But come Monday,
I'd be going back to school and back to the same old thing...that was if
I still had a home. Bill and Sharon were mad as hell at me.
They were ready to give up on me and send me back to the care of The State.
So the question was how long would it be before everything started getting
to me again? A day, two weeks, a month? My situation wasn't
looking up at all. Everything seemed to be going downhill as far
as I could see. How long would it be before I psyched myself up again
to make another attempt at taking my life?
"I...I...promise." I couldn't have sounded any more unconvincing. A deaf person could've seen through that.
Michael's eyes narrowed a little and his serious
"Look, I'm serious. Don't let them make you think you don't belong. I know it's hard, believe me I do, but don't give them the sick satisfaction of knowing that one of the reasons you took your life was just to get away from them."
"I'll try...but what if I can't?"
Michael was silent and I could tell he was
thinking again. He looked away from me and out toward the edge of
"I'll tell you what. Give it the rest of this month. Try to see that they're only doing this either because they're afraid of you or jealous. Try to see that their goal is to try and make you disappear and that you can't let them beat you, no matter what they do. Work on your life with your foster parents. Don't be afraid to open up to them. You opened up to me and you just barely found out my name. And as for your stepbrother, skip him. If his popularity means more to him then let it be."
He paused and started to turn back toward me,
"If after that things don't change, or they get worse, then come back here at the same time you came here tonight. We'll take it from there."
What? Take what from where? Immediately
I wanted to know what he meant by that. Did he know about something
that I didn't?
"Take what from where?"
I knew he wanted to answer that. I swear
I could see it in his eyes. But he held back for some reason.
"Don't worry about it right now. We'll cross that bridge when and if we have to. Do you promise?"
Five long minutes did it take me to gather
the willpower and the strength to bring myself to a final decision and
give my answer.
"I promise." I told him, hoping silently to myself that I could.
"You're making the right choice, man. I guarantee you that you are."
I thought to myself,
"I really do hope so."
I looked off toward the left as a cool breeze passed by. I never heard him make a sound, much less one of getting up to leave, but he obviously must have, because when I looked back to my right he was gone. Not gone as in not sitting next to me anymore. Gone as in nowhere to be found in the immediate or distant area.
Dazed with a vengeance I stood up from my seat against the large tree and gave the place a look around one more time to make sure my mind wasn't playing tricks on me. It wasn't. I looked down at my watch and realized it was almost four thirty. Nearly an hour and thirty minutes had gone by. Even though it was a Friday night, I knew I had to get myself home fast. Bill was a police officer and he would be getting up to start his shift in another hour.
I started on my way home at jogging pace, finding that I was actually glad it was going to be the weekend. At least it would give me two days to prepare myself for school and hopefully give me a chance with my foster parents. At the rate they were talking, I was probably going to have to swallow my pride and beg them to let me stay. It was going to take a lot out of me to let them into my world, but I was a man of my word. I'd made a promise and I was going to do my best to stick to it. I really hoped things were going to work out, but at that moment I wasn't very confident about it.
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