The only person in the world that could bring down Annie from the edge of that rooftop was lying in a mortuary cooler just a few floors beneath her.
The Osborn hospital rooftop was always the right place for disturbed persons who continually threatened to take their own lives; just two glances from the edge of the roof and they will run back downstairs cowering in fear. The explosive upsurges of the high sky wind was especially insane at nights when anyone standing too close to the edge could be blown over.
Well, it’s actually never happened before, but in theory, if one does not maintain his pace and balance, then it has a higher chance of happening than of water being in a pond.
But all the same Annie was not moved. It was few minutes into midnight and the thirty-two people pleading for Annie to take a step back off the edge weren’t seeming to get anywhere with the suicide rescue… just if Chris had been here.
Chris, the boy Annie had seared a crush on since junior high when he joined Breadworth Alley all the way from Massachusetts. She learnt all his preference and the kind of lady he had interest in from David, the junior swim prefect.
David and Chris were best of buddies so it took a lot of maturity to have him keep quiet about the girl raging head over heels for his best friend.
Two years later, Chris met saw her at swim practice. It was his first day in the swim team.
“Do you mind if I sat here?” Chris was standing with his lunch just over Annie at the cafeteria. It was the first day He ever spoke to her. It was the first day they ever stood in front of each other. Apparently Chris had told David about this girl he had seen at swim practice the other day and just needed to approach so badly.
In a few minutes, David sat and watched as they were sitting right beside each other, chatting and laughing like they’d known each other since they were inside their fathers’ sperm sac.
He felt a bolt in his heart unknot, but all the same he respected the mutual love they shared.
That was thirteen years ago. Today Chris was carried to the Osborn in a body bag and Annie, asides being victimized in a rape, felt there was no need to stay any longer in this life since the only person she was breathing for had left for the other side.
Chris and Annie had been driving all evening in his new white Chevrolet car. They had gone to ride the ferry’s wheel for Annie’s birthday earlier that day.
They were only a couple of blocks away from Chris’ apartment when a truck appeared out of the intersection and rammed the car from the driver side. They could never have seen it coming.
There was a superficial cut on Annie’s head where she bumped into the dashboard as well as bruises from the shattered glass, but Chris wasn’t so lucky.
A masked man came down from the truck that struck them and walked towards the car. It was just about the eleventh hour of the night and so everyone was off the roads. Getting to the car the man pulled out Annie from the shattered window. He held her firmly to the car and in one swift move ripped off the skirt she was wearing.
Annie was too weak to fight or scream, she just cried and groaned in pain as he bent over her and pulled off his trousers.
The raping took a long while before the sirens started wailing but still at that he didn’t seem to care. The man slammed against her harder continually and when the ambulance and police cars came into sight from the end of the long road he finally pulled out and slapped Annie to the floor.
He stepped towards the lights of the approaching ambulance, pulled out a gun from his vest and without hesitation, shot himself in the head.
Annie had passed out all through the journey in the ambulance. Chris had been confirmed dead right from the accident scene.
Annie went straight into shock as soon as the man blasted the gun.
At the hospital they revived her and had begun dressing her wound when she suddenly jumped up and pushed the nurse asides.
She ran through the hallway towards the mortuary faster than any accident victim they’d ever seen. The two nurses assigned to her ward chased after her alongside the security guards.
Annie stopped briefly at the mortuary door and walked in quietly. She was standing by the table where Chris laid when the nurses stepped in. They gave her a moment alone, standing just outside the door to ensure she didn’t do anything stupid. Annie bent over him and kissed him on his dry lifeless lip. He was getting quite rigid, all his muscle had tensed up and his skin had quickly turned white from the blood loss. After the long kiss, Annie stood back and began towards the rear mortuary door.
The nurses did not notice when she left the body, turning back into the mortuary, she was gone.
Annie found her way through the complexity of the fifteen storey main hospital building to the horticultures of the rooftop. That was where they saw her, walking solemnly like a bride to the altar. She loosened the hairband that held her silk creamy hair together. The few people on the rooftop noticed her when she was close to the edge and informed as many people as they could. They couldn’t run to grab her anymore; she was already a step from death.
Annie was crying somberly as she stood back-turned to the edge. Two elderly men on wheelchairs had also wheeled towards her pleading for her to come down from the edge. The wind was increasing now. Doctors and many more people trooped in from the west wing elevator.
The love was overwhelming but Annie saw it pointless. She had planned out her entirely life with Chris and now that life had gone, so what exactly was their point in telling her to stay around and suffer some more before she eventually dies of her broken heart?
As Annie took a shift closer to the edge, she concluded she was going to let go in three seconds. She smiled, greeting death with the warmth of courtesy. She shut her eyes closed and just as she was about to let go she heard his voice…
“Why don’t you go ahead and jump?” It was cold and louder than the rest.
Annie opened her eyes and saw David. The other doctors tried to tell him to be sensible but he continued anyways.
“Why don’t you go ahead and jumped like you used to at Breadworth’s swimming practice?
Come on, it can’t be that bad. You’ll die for sure, I assure you… Only it won’t be like you pictured. It’ll be more painful than you can ever imagine. You’ll strike your head and bash your skull but you won’t die for minutes. There’ll be so much pain and you’ll suffer it alone.” Annie looked straight at David, he was also in tears and he had his shirt tucked in…
David never tucked his shirt in, he said it took too much time to remove a tucked shirt; time he could invest in swim practice. David was the best swimmer Annie had ever seen. He was so good he would pass for an Olympic medalist. But here he was all dressed like a man. It’d been almost three years since she last saw him.
They had fought over Annie and despite the entire honor David had conjured in telling Chris like a man, he had chased him out of his life like the past years of loyal friendship never existed. “You root out a disease before it begins to spread its wings. Except you have feelings for him though.” Chris had said when Annie tried to persuade him forgive his friend. David had tried to apologize for months for his interest in his best friend’s girl but Chris never permitted him anywhere close to him. He was still in Medical school then. Now he was a final year resident doctor and now he could never earn Chris’ forgiveness for life.
“David, how did you…?” Annie was in tears again.
David walked towards her amidst all the doctors and guards and stepped on the edge. He was a meter away from Annie but it seemed like he had her wrapped in his arms.
“You love him. I know you do. But Annie, Chris would have wanted you to live the life he never had the chance to live, and not the die the death he already died for you.”
Carefully, he held her hand and walked her down from the edge and in one swift move he wrapped her in a warm embrace.
“Please live. Don’t die. There is always hope, always, so long as you are alive. No more suicides” Annie smiled as David said the words.
It was the beginning of a new life and the spark of a new feeling.