She takes another step toward the edge of their high school’s sloping roofline, the wind tugging at the frayed hem of her sundress like an impatient child. “I know you want me to get rid of it,” she says, her expression unreadable, her eyes as impenetrable as an animal’s. He thinks of his pet rabbit, the one he’s had since middle school. He thinks of the essay he is supposed to be writing right now, the one about where he sees himself in five years.
Another step. And another. The edge of the building is only a few feet from the tips of her moon-white toes now, the world beyond it crater-black, reaching toward her like a lover. He knows that he is supposed to be the one reaching right now, pulling her away from the ledge, pushing an apology stroller-like past his lips, but when he opens his mouth something else entirely comes out: “The fall wouldn’t even kill you, you know.”
She blinks her frightened rabbit’s eyes once, twice, but she cannot the tears from falling, cannot keep the high-pitched whine from creeping into her voice when she tells him to go fuck himself, she’s too good for him anyway. Like a child, he thinks. They are both just children and they are having a child. Oh god. She starts to cry harder, and he lifts his head skyward. He doesn’t want to see the tears. He wants to see stars, light in the darkness, some faint, flickering sign of life, a planet, or a plane, or any way out of this mess. And when something streaks past the periphery of his vision, as pale as the moon, he thinks—absurdly—for the second it takes him to turn his gaze from the skyline to the roofline again that a shooting star has just shot past them. But of course there is no star to be seen, only a fallen, falling, woman, and by the time he realizes, it is too late, too late to do anything except cringe when he hears the sick crunch of skin and bone and sinew against cement and think, dimly, that he’d been right after all—three stories hadn’t been enough. Not quite.
She lies bleeding, broken against the cement below him, one of her legs bent at an impossible angle, but very much alive. She isn’t screaming. She just looks scared, as scared as the rabbit that his parents bought, they said, to teach him a little something about responsibility. And he wonders if maybe he’d had it wrong before. Maybe the rabbit’s eyes were really more human than he’d realized, and not the other way around.
Lindsey Anderson has lived in Chicago since 2011. She works at the Museum of Contemporary Art, where she edits art books and catalogues for the museum’s press, and she is currently enrolled in an MFA program for creative writing at Roosevelt University. In her free time she writes about contemporary art for websites like Sixty Inches from Center and ArtSlant and serves on the reading committee for Carve Magazine.