A/N: My first attempt at fiction writing! Oh, and I should point out from the start that I am English, and I've decided to use English spelling; I think that way I'll find it easier to stay consistent.
I've now decided to leave this piece as a Oneshot, at least for the moment. But I really hope you will take the time to read it, and maybe drop a little piece of constructive critisism or just let me know what you think. I'll happily return the favour :)
Liam Rivers walked briskly along the cold, damp streets of Edinburgh. It was nearly 6pm, and the dull February evening was becoming darker by the minute. His path was well lit with the soft glow of streetlights, but his lengthy stride made it clear that he had had no intentions of staying out any longer than necessary. Shoving his gloves hands firmly into his pockets, he ducked his head against the harsh wind; it caught his longer-than-usual hair, whipping it sharply against his pale cheeks. As he rounded the corner into Roxton Street, his pace subconsciously quickened once more. On route back to the university and his small rented apartment, it was a street he walked nearly every other day; yet one over which he always felt a small, insignificant feeling of anxiety. He could not say exactly what caused that nagging discomfort, or how it had come about. Perhaps it was the tall, cheap office buildings stacked either side of the road; there was something strangely intimating about the way they seemed to tower over him, in a passive yet threatening manner. Or, perhaps a more sensible concern were the hundreds of employees who would soon begin to fill the streets. On previous occasions when he had mistimed his journey, he had been offered drugs by burley men in ripped jeans and jackets. His first encounter had entered without too much hassle, but the second had resulted in a trip to A&E. He often stopped to wonder who in their right mind would hire these people – perhaps that was why he felt the wave of danger when he looked at the buildings…
Now, Liam attempted to push those thoughts and bad memories to the back of his mind. He focused instead on his battered old computer on its low desk, and the article which he planned to work on that night. It was already beginning to take shape, and throughout the day he had come up with several good ideas. He was quietly confident that he could write something to impress his Professor. Smiling a little at the thought, he raised his head – and froze in his tracks.
There was a figure balancing on a window frame several buildings along; at a glance, several storeys up. She was so perfectly still, that he half stumbled on the spot, believing his eyes to be playing a cruel joke on him. But he was a young and intelligent man, who looked at what he saw; his hesitation was gone in an instant.
She's going to jump.
Liam was 6'3'', and blessed with long legs that had won many a Sports Day. Although it had been a long time since he had competed, they had not forgotten how to move. The single thought was screaming in his head so loudly he could not process his own actions. When his body leapt into action a split second later, he did not have a plan; it was raw, undamaged instinct. His old trainers, worn and tattered, pounded the concrete with a pure and animal strength. Again and again they pushed forwards, faster and faster, harder and harder; his body grew taunt and streamline and that of an athlete, the muscles in his legs burned him faster and faster, harder and harder... His breath was huge and ragged; it caught in his throat and stung with knives. He forced his head to remain upwards; he forced his eyes, throbbing with wind and rain, to cling to her fragile body.
He could see her more closely now, although his brain could not take it in. Had he been a mere spectator, and able to look with a clear eye, the following sight would have greeted him. A young girl, possibly a few years younger than he was, although it was hard to say for sure. It became obvious why she had instantly caught his eye, for despite the bitter cold and harsh weather, she wore a long and sleeveless white dress. It's pureness it was only a few shades lighter than her skin, and her own paleness was a sharp contrast to her hair; it soared behind her like a sheet of black glass. Her feet balanced lightly on the edge of the window frame, and her raised arms alone flattened her to the red bricks of the wall. She remained motionless, a quiet ghostlike statue. A strange and poignant sereneness surrounded her; her eyes were closed, but her thin face showed no sign of fear or pain. She seemed perfectly composed, and almost… calm.
Liam dared not and could not draw his gaze away. His heart was hammering in his chest with the pain of a thousand blows; not with the exhaustion of his run, but with fear. With every second his feet hit the ground, and he grew a little closer, his fear grew, stronger and stronger. He dared pray that he would, that he could reach her before she jumped. It had not occurred to him what he would then do. Maybe he could somehow persuade her to listen to him, that he could talk her out of it. That she would climb back inside the window and be safe; or if she was frozen with fear, she would at least allow him to break into the room, lean out of the window, wrap his arms around her and lift her out of danger.
That would be the idealistic way out, of course, but he already knew it was unlikely; impossible even. Expecting her to climb back inside the window was nothing short of popostrous. For one thing, she would fall for certain if she attempted to move, and she was hardly going to be in a fit state for listening to reason. And even if she had had second thoughts, if she begged for him to climb the floors and pull her back inside the building – could he do it? The answer was no, for he knew that he would not be able to leave her for the two minutes it would take to run up the stairs. He would not be able to leave the street, and leave her at the mercy of the night. Was his only choice to try and catch her? It was a slim chance, with both outcomes equally bleak. He could miss by metres, or position himself correctly and take her weight at the cost of both their lives… No, there was only one plausible option. He would have to yell out and comfort her, hope to God that she could stay steady whilst he called for help…
As he reached the building on which she balanced so precariously, he made his error. He allowed himself to believe he could save her. Something in his young and determined mind deciphered a scene in which he reached her, and the incident ended without loss of life. It was this stab of hope which was to be his downfall. For suddenly, and without warning, she fell from the window. Without so much as a scream or sigh she allowed herself to tip into nothingness. Her slender body in its white dress soared silently towards death. And Liam Rivers, a 21 year old postgraduate in Edinburgh University, was not prepared for it. He was hit with a feeling he had never felt before, a feeling he prayed to God he would never feel again. The horrific realisation that he was too far away, that he would not reach her in time. That a young girl's life would this evening end in front of him, and her blood would run thick and fast on the concrete over which he walked every other day. That his presence was futile.
The feeling of being helpless is perhaps the most painful and most frightening emotion in human existence. Some accept it without question; many are powerlessly frozen in their shoes with misery and tears. Most lack the fight to continue against impossible odds, and begin to deal with fate before it has acted. And yet, within the bleak population, there are a few who fight back. A few who refuse to succumb to helplessness. Who run from it. Liam Rivers was one of those few.
And suddenly he was standing quite still, beneath her. He looked up; the wind blew his hair, his eyes shone.
For one moment, for one beautiful, glorious moment she seemed to hang in the air, and he reached up and wrapped his arms around her as preciously as he had held his newborn niece. He scooped his left hand beneath her thighs, the rush of soft cotton and smooth skin burning through his fingers. A split second later he had hurled his right arm out under her to take the pressure of her back and chest; almost instinctively his body contorted to support her head. Her hair brushed hard against the delicate skin of his neck. She lay in arms like an Angel: … sensual… enchanting… weightless…
That was for one beautiful, glorious moment. One beautiful, glorious dream. It was not reality.
The street went black to a choked gasp, and the dull ripping of bone through flesh.