The air is sort of bitter as I step outside. Funny, because I am sort of bitter. It’s the middle of October and I had just come from the convenience store on fifth street. I made the exciting purchases of a lotto ticket, a pack of gum, and two packs of cigarettes. I put my items in the pocket of my over sized jacket, and make my way down the street. Today is one of those days where in a year I won’t even remember it existing. One of those days that will not contribute to my life what-so-ever, and will just vanish from my memory. As I walk I see a homeless man sitting on the curb with his shaggy black dog beside him, I give him five bucks as I pass by. It’s one of the things Anna got me into doing. She always said that it never hurts to bring light to those who live in the dark. I realize I have a huge stupid looking grin on my face as I reach my destination. I look up at the tall grey building. Shit, I never realized how huge it really is. I make my way in, and take the elevator up to the top floor, a journey I’ve made so many times in the last 6 years of my life. As the elevator dings at the top floor, I stick my head out, look both ways, then sprint down the long hall to the giant steel door. I completely ignore the “no exit” sign and make my way out onto the roof top. I sigh as I take in the view of the dreary city. I walk over to where Anna is. I pick up the tiny picture frame that has been blown over by the wind. In the frame is my absolute favorite picture of Anna. She’s sitting in an open field in the middle of august, laughing. Her long dark hair was tangled from the humid breeze, and her tall thin body looked stronger than what it was. That day was the best. I put the picture down next to the other frame which held a picture of us together. I take it in a little bit. I look at myself next to her, I’m significantly shorter, my long hair is blonde and wavy, and I have my Smiths t-shirt on with a pair of dark ripped jeans. I notice how even though I’m pretty thin, I look much larger next to her. My stomach knots a little bit.
“18 Anna, 18. Hah. Shit.” I grunt a little bit. I take my pack of cigarettes out, and toss the other one towards the collection of Anna items. I light up, and take a long drag.
“Anna, where are you? I’m eighteen today and I can’t even be excited about it…” The tears are running down my face at this point, they’re not even stopping to take a breath. The last four years have been a living hell. When you’re young your friends structure your life, you can probably imagine how hard it is to have had my best friend die in my fourteenth year. We were young, and reckless. I used to believe in a lot of things, but never that I would lose myself. Anna took a great a part of me with her that day she died. Our friend Charlie, a boy we met when we were ten, and we dragged into our crazy lives, has always been there for me. I’m lucky to have him, but it’s not the same as having Anna.
“Jess?” I hear my name through my clouded thoughts.
“Jess! The fuck are you doing?”
“are you crying? shit, Jess are you okay…? you look horrible…”
I suddenly am pulled out of my haze to notice Charlie standing in front of me with a look of true concern on his face. An expression that I have seen many times.
“What? you don’t like my new look?” I make this joke, assuming that my heavy black eyeliner is covering my most of my face by now. I can feel the red in my eyes from crying.
Charlie laughs, “edgy.”
“That’s what I was going for.” Our eyes meet for a long second, both of us silent, probably consumed by thoughts of the past four years.
“Jess, I really do worry about you. It’s not normal.” I can feel the sincerity in his voice.
“Grieving is most definitely normal, Charlie.” He cuts me off…
“No, grieving and moving on with life is normal… Grieving and falling into a hole is not. I don’t even know what I’m supposed to say to you anymore.. You’re quiet, and cynical, and I can’t stand seeing you like this, Jess.”
I don’t really know what to do with this. I try and put myself in his position. I guess I would feel the same way to see him like this.
“Honestly, I’m not sure what.. I… Who I am. I just, I don’t know. I think that I’m being drowned by .. life. I miss Anna. High school has made my life fade out. Going through the last four years alone has been torture. I’m alone. I have nobody. Nobody cares. Anna always cared… I know I have you Charlie, but it isn’t the same.”
“Nothing has been the same Jess, since that day…” Charlie looked at me, and slowly turned and left me alone on the roof.
I remember that day a little too well. It was dark, and dreary. I remember thinking how that was coincidental. Everyone was dressed in black, head to toe. Why do we do that? Why do we gather in all black, in a cemetery and watch strangers lower our loved ones into the cold ground? I thought about Anna’s life, and how she had put up a good fight. That’s the ironic thing about life, that dying is the easy part, it’s the living that is hard. That day at her funeral, this odd idea of jealousy kept floating around in my head. Anna has no expectations left. She’s gone. She doesn’t have to worry about her future. She doesn’t have to worry about disappointment. God, all I wanted to do was live a good life for Anna. I’m not sure if I believe in an afterlife but I hope that Anna is in that field in the middle of august and that she’s laughing. I hope that Anna doesn’t feel like she is missing out on anything here, because truthfully she hasn’t. She missed the last four years of hell. I’ve come to this sense of overwhelming sadness that made it’s way into my body through the cut that was Anna, and now has spread to every aspect of my life. I feel dull, and lifeless. I wonder if that is how she felt.
I open my eyes into the dark city. It is night, and the world is quiet. My eyes are damp and tear soaked. The breeze is blowing gently against my face as I take in all of the buildings. I look up at the sky, it is consumed with beautiful, bright stars. They look like they would take care of me. I feel tired. The same tired I’ve been feeling for the past few months. I’m standing on the very edge of the building, letting the wind taunt me as it plays at my feet. I hear the door from the building open.
“Jess? What are you doing?” It’s Charlie.
I ignore him, and look at the terrible and great drop beneath me.
Maybe life is a precious thing that we just get to touch for a minute. Maybe it just burns too bright. And maybe Anna knew that.
“It’s a long fall… “ I whisper, half to myself and half to the wind. I softly close my eyes.