Real Life Parables: The Jump
He felt a drop of rain hit his head. It was just a drop, but it made the burden he carried feel heavier. He didn’t have a backpack, he wasn’t carrying any box or bag, but his burden was heavy and his feet dragged more with every step. The sky was as overcast as his life was bleak. Was he going crazy? He wasn’t sure. He didn’t care. What did it matter? No one would miss him anyway. He was nothing and nobody saw him. He could’ve been the literal walking dead and no one would have stopped to see him. He was an invisible failure at life.
Will I even miss myself? It was a ridiculous thought, but he pondered the question anyway.
His eyes stung from the thousands of tears that had filled them, but he had nothing left to cry. Tears wouldn’t put things right. He searched for another answer than the one he’d decided on and only desperation answered back. He wasn’t sure which direction he was taking. He just walked. His hands shook, but whether from the cold, or from fear, or just old age, he wasn’t sure. Someone bumped into him and his hat fell from his head. In any other circumstances, his instinct would be to get angry, but the anger didn’t come. He couldn’t feel anger, he couldn’t feel anything. He just watched as the hat rolled away, caught up in the wind, while he continued dragging his feet up the stairs in front of him.
Just keep walking to nowhere, he thought. Just keep walking until there’s nowhere else to go.
He made his way up the stairs, and through the crowd. He pulled himself onto the escalator and went up. He pulled himself on the next one and climbed higher. He went as far as he could go. He gripped the railing. He was afraid of letting go, but he was more afraid of living. He looked down and all he could see was emptiness. A shallow world of hopeless dreams and he was the most hopeless of them all. He had gone as far as he could go.
No more emptiness, he thought. No more tomorrow.
He had reached the end of his journey. It would be better this way.
“Girl, weren’t you the one who dragged me into H and M?” she laughed as she asked the question, and got laughter in response.
“Then how come I’m the one who spent 30 quid?” Barbara threw her hands up in the air in mock exasperation and the two young women walked out into the busy streets of the city center. It was a chilly and dreary day, but neither Barbara nor Elizabeth seemed to mind the cool breeze or the threat of rain that lurked above them. The city was full of life and so were they.
“So… where to next?” Elizabeth looked inside her bag as she spoke; she wanted to make sure she hadn’t forgotten anything inside the store dressing room again. “It’s your turn to drag me somewhere, isn’t it?” she said with a smile.
“Let’s go inside the shopping center. I wanna check out the makeup store”
The two made their way up the street, which sloped upward and opened up to a large staircase leading to the main entrance. But something greeted them at the top they hadn’t expected: bright yellow police tape. They stopped for a moment to take in the full picture. The tape ran all around the entrance as did five police officers, all wearing bright yellow vests and grave expressions. A police car sat at the bottom of the stairs and next to it a man with a news camera.
The two friends looked to each other with the same unspoken question on their mind: what happened?
They kept walking, stealing glances through the glass doors to see inside as they walked past. More uniforms and more cameras, but no sign to tell them what had happened.
“What do you think?” Elizabeth asked the question while still trying desperately to see inside.
“I dont know, maybe somebody famous is here, you know like Beyonce?”
Elizabeth laughed and shook her head. “What?”
“Ya, you’re right, it couldn’t be that,” she paused for a brief moment with a smile behind her eyes, “cause Beyonce is right here!” Barbara gestured to herself with a grin and a little dance and the two were laughing and thinking of shopping once again.
The other entrance was open, so they would take the long way round to get to the makeup store. As they walked past the shops and wound their way around the other customers and the cleaning crew, they hopped from one random thought to another. It was a pleasant day despite police tape and the impending rain, and they were determined to enjoy it.
They turned the next corner toward the front of the shopping center, and had hoped to go up the escalator to get to their intended store, but got another surprise greeting.
More police. More yellow tape. The entire front of the shopping center had been closed off, from top to bottom. There would be no getting up those escalators any time soon. This was something truly serious. Elizabeth went through the possibilities in her head. Some political event, perhaps? Nope, there aren’t any people. A robbery, more likely… maybe?
She couldn’t stand the suspense. They walked slowly past the escalator towards the one open store directly beside them.
Barbara was about to stop, but Elizabeth kept going and stopped next to the police officer.
“The escalators are closed ma’am,” his voice was low and serious, “I’m sorry, but you can only go to this store if you wanna go this way.” He gestured to the small drugstore next to the escalators.
“May I ask, what happened here sir?” Elizabeth couldn’t hold back the question.
The officer’s expression changed from a serious one, to serious one with a hint of annoyance. “There’s no use asking anything like that just move along.”
The two young women obeyed and walked into the small drugstore.
“Gosh, it must be something really bad.”
“Ya, maybe it’s a robbery,” Barbara browsed a bit as they spoke, but glanced back at the escalators.
A short woman with curly red hair came from around the corner and greeted the two with a half smile. “Can I help you with anything today ladies?”
They shook their heads and turned to leave, but Elizabeth paused for a moment, still filled with curiosity.
“Actually,” she said, turning back to the employee, “Can you tell us what happened here?”
“Oh…. Ya…” the woman paused for a moment as she looked toward the escalators.
Elizabeth was surprised to see that there were tears in her eyes. These were not the tears of someone who cries easily at everything. These were the kind that sit in one’s eyes like the water that waits inside a dark storm cloud, waiting to be released because they can’t be held back any more. These were the tears of tragedy.
“They think it was a jumper,” she finally said. Her voice was small, and she exhaled after she spoke.
Barbara and Elizabeth gasped in genuine surprise.
“A man just leapt over the railing and his body fell through the air. You could hear it hit the bottom. It was terrible.” She stopped and winced a bit with pain. It was clear she didn’t want to say more.
“Oh my goodness, that’s so sad,” Barbara shook her head and looked down in thought.
“Yes, that’s terrible.” Elizabeth’s mood was not as lively as it had been before and she looked with a new perspective at the railing by the escalators.
What makes a person want to jump to their Death? She thought.
She looked into the woman’s eyes once more and could see that whatever had happened would never be erased from this woman’s memory. She would unwillingly remember this day in years to come. Barbara and Elizabeth awkwardly thanked the woman and walked out of the store with slow, dragging steps. Elizabeth looked out to the railing one last time. She looked past it, right out the front windows of the mall.
It had finally started to rain.