Death on Impact
The prone woman's head remained still, her body bowed, yet the snuffling, weeping sounds that she had been making faded away. She stared wide eyed at her knees.
George walked round to stare at her. "What are you doing down there, sweetie?"
"'m trying to forget. 's provin' difficult."
He knelt. "You want to forget? I think..." George paused, and thought. "I think that would be a good thing."
"Do you?" Caroline muttered scathingly. "Oh, d'you really?"
"Why d'you keep coming back, George? If you want me to forget?"
"I didn't say I wanted you to forget," he said. "I just think it would be for the best... for you..."
Caroline walked a few feet towards him and then stopped. Her eyes locked onto his, searching for something. George blinked and turned away.
"I thought as much. You're honest through and through, Georgie. Always were, always will be, I have no doubt."
"I shouldn't be here," George murmured. "You're right. This isn't good for either of us." He walked to the open balcony and stared out at the sky-scape around them. "I'm sorry, Caroline. Don't worry, I won't come back."
George placed one foot on the balcony tiles but was drawn short by a piercing wail.
He clamped his teeth together and completed the step.
"Stop, wait! George, please!"
Caroline ran to him, her footsteps echoing and her arms outstretched, ever so desperate for that last embrace.
Her hands passed through his own. Caroline sprawled on the tiles, wretched sobs escaping her mouth. She had fallen right through him, just as she knew she would. George tried to placate with his hands what his words could not.
"I want you back," she said. "I just want you back."
There was nothing he could say. Nothing he could do. George lowered a hand. "You have no idea how much I want to pull you up right now, Caroline. No idea," he said.
Caroline stood and forced the weeping down; the only visible crack in her composure was the tremor that played at her left hand. George shared her hurt when he saw it, but the pain riled as she lifted her face. Agony is to see the mask on a smiling face, he thought, when you can see the lie in their eyes.
"I might," she whispered. Caroline extended a finger to trace the invisible line of his jaw. No more than an icy whisper on her skin. No more than a shadow in the darkness. "George. I can't do this-"
"I know, I'm sorry."
"-but just let me get a run up, 'kay?"
George drew back sharply from her inconsequential touch. "What?"
Caroline's eyes glimmered in the moonlight.
Realisation dawned. "No, oh please, no... Caroline, I won't let you!"
"Oh, you think you're goin' to stop me, do you?"
"I think I'm going to try! For God's sake, Caroline!"
The woman flashed him a mirthless grin. "Now I know you don't go in for all that religious hokum, George. So don't try to win me over like that."
"I'm not trying to win you over!" George cried. "You aren't going to end up like me!"
Caroline blinked. George watched the streak of tears and felt his heart break. "I don't want you to join me... " he said. "I don't want you to do this."
"That's a barefaced lie, George. You're honest as muck."
George stared in repulsion at the hands that could not hold her back. He watched in horror as he failed to save her from herself. "Caroline!" he pleaded.
"Don't worry, my sweet." Caroline paced back along the room and lifted her head to face the ceiling, taking a deep breath.
"Right," she muttered.
She stepped forward.
She walked, then ran.
And then she dropped.
The wind in her hair. The cold on her cheeks. The voice in her ear. The arms on her hips.
"They say," whispered the voice, "that it is not often the impact that proves fatal. Death is met during the fall, maybe a heart attack, maybe they black out and know no more of life."
The arms tightened. Two figures swooped. One body dropped.
"They say all that, do they?"
"Yes," said George. "They say all of that."