Issue 76 Sep 2019
My legs dangle over the edge.
One hundred feet above the ground, the cars resemble Matchbox toys, the streets illuminated carpets. Up here, problems should look smaller. They don’t.
I’ve lost one sneaker. Hopefully, it didn’t hit some poor bastard on the head—I don’t plan on hurting anyone, except myself. I wiggle my toes and notice I’m wearing mismatched socks. One green, one black. One foot’s happy, the other sad.
“You made it this far,” the monster says, perched next to me. Blistered leathery skin, hairless. It looks pinched with its hollowed eyes and sunken cheeks. I haven’t fed it since my last hospital stay.
“Don’t you wanna jump?” Crimson irises gleam.
Right. That’s why I climbed ten flights of stairs to the abandoned floor, ignoring the Keep Out signs. I pick a piece of lint off my AC/DC T-shirt and snort at the absurdity of this gesture. In a few minutes, Angus Young and the boys will be soaked in blood anyway.
So will the pavement.
A slimy lump gets stuck in my throat.
“You’re not having second thoughts, are you?” Its tone is ninety percent accusation, ten percent disappointment.
Arrith pulled her gaze away from the walls and focused on where the doctor was gesturing for her to sit. The chair was a sleek mixture of white cushions and steel rods and looked like it might recline. She sat down carefully, ready to lean forward and catch herself if the seat suddenly rocked backwards. It didn’t, which probably meant it was controlled electronically and wouldn’t move until the doctor typed in a command.
Arrith scooted back until she could feel the top cushion pressing snugly against her shoulder blades. She’d briefly considered perching on the edge of the chair, but had decided that such a position might look suspicious. It wasn’t as if she’d be making a mad dash out of a doctor’s office, no matter how much she might wish to.
The doctor’s dark blonde hair pulled back into a no-nonsense bun. She sat down across from Arrith and offered a smile that was too large and too bright to be genuine.
“Hello there, Arrith. Thank you so much for coming in today.”
Arrith nodded, knowing it was the polite thing to do. She wondered why grown-ups said things like that…as if she’d had any say over whether or not she came to this appointment. She hadn’t even known about it until last night, when her mother had stuck her head into Arrith’s room and casually mentioned it.
She had, of course, first frowned at seeing the book in Arrith’s hands.
“Is that for a school assignment?” she’d asked.