Five minutes (Short story)
From the balcony, he could see the grey area between life and death. Pedestrians, so small and insignificant from where he stood over and watched, scurrying like ants… but they weren’t like ants…far from it. Ants co-operate, ants protect, ants work tirelessly and can see the goals in their sacrifice. Ants don’t, or at least not that we know of, lie to each other, spite each other, play psychological games to cause misery and detriment. Ants don’t kill each other or belittle each other. No…if an ant were to stand where he was standing, all the other ants would probably organise and form a safety net for its fall. He pitifully sneered below at what he deemed as pathetic creatures, though none of this mattered now.
He couldn’t explain what had brought him here. He could tell you of some of the troubles of his life, the losses, the heartbreaks, the failures. The inherent degradation to his helplessness, overpowered and bullied, but he couldn’t vocalise to you what brought him there now, after years of resilience prior. It was not so much that now he had reached the tip of the iceberg, but more that the anchor in his chest bore too heavy and tiring to carry with his weakened body. Trapped. Lonely. Insignificant. Yet for the first time, standing there injected shots of adrenaline, controlling his being – excitement. While fear overwhelmed him, so too did the ecstasy of causing a commotion that would make him known, noticed, perhaps empathised with… journalists that might care to tell his story. A headline, which would get whoever was watching to question his motives and try to decipher him, in a way that they would simply never care to do while he was alive. He set his stopwatch: five minutes. When the clock struck 4pm, gravity would bring him down from the top floor of the isolated building, and it would be as had been romantically fantasised for years previously.
I couldn’t tell you what all his thoughts were, but while the images flashed by at pace of his experiences, his feelings, his seeing himself in third person, these seconds were passing slower than any in his life before. Topped with confusion, he was hopelessly lost… for it wasn’t that he didn’t have any good days – perhaps they were seldom and sporadic – but they existed. It was just that, for him, such moments and those days were not significant enough, not common enough, not worthy enough to live for. Medication had, he believed, failed him, and though he had companions, family, access to help… he couldn’t escape the feeling that no one was able to understand him, so he deemed it best to never lay mention to his troubles. It was surreal, cold sweats dripping down his face, trembling hopelessly as he looked down. He wept violently but exerted his utmost efforts to mute any sound. Three minutes left. Did he really want to die?
Every time his thoughts would travel on a directionless trail, flashes would go to those…the loved ones that he still had in his life. He fought to block them off and numb them out, for now wasn’t the time. He could depict them already, mourning but cursing his selfishness for such an abrupt end. He could feel their regret and their powerlessness as they manifested into the burrows of his skin as Goosebumps.
How can you reduce the whole trail of thought, the experiences, the state of affairs that 32 years had bestowed upon a man to a mere couple of minutes? Though no one was forcing the action to be done, he felt he was obligated and pressured based on the climax he created for himself, as he tiptoed closer to the buildings edge, losing more balance with every inch stepped.
Focusing on his breathing now, as he exhaled, he began to appreciate things never before noticed. Outside, how the birds were orchestrated in their movements, syncing almost in melody with nature. Within himself – how the organs in his body all united in support trying to keep him together. How they supported each other to keep him alive and he barely before batted an eye. ‘Now isn’t the time to meditate’ he murmured, cutting his thoughts off aggressively.
Now the minutes had become seconds, as he wondered of his beliefs, his standpoints, his questions, things he once hoped for, all amplified as barriers to his struggling conscience. His pupils dilated and his panic accentuated. Strange how the alarm he was waiting on was not to wake him up, but to set him to sleep. Further thoughts, more scenarios, more creative and prominent visions bashing against the walls of his migraine now, feeling like he was being simultaneously pushed while someone was clinging onto the sleeve of his jacket pulling him back, at the centre of a tug of war with his soul, arguing with himself manically. Secretly…he desperately wished that the humans he sneered at would become human ants at the last minute, forming a safety net, at the ready to embrace his fall, that the world would stop for a minute to notice him, to tell him they understand, to give him hope, to give him reasons to see beyond the fog that encapsulated his days. He closed his eyes, holding that wish.
And then the clock struck 4.