*author: when I put an asterisk somewhere, you know it's from me. Hope you like my story! Thanks for reading! :) oh, and if you really, really like it or you really, really don't... tell me! I'd love to hear suggestions, or feedback or whatever.

PROLOGUE

I stand there watching, hoping, thinking. The sky is so open and free. I can imagine the wind as a cloud of smoke... a spirit moving calmly through the land. It fills me with a sense of longing, this cliff. A longing to be a part of the earth, a part of nature. At one with my surroundings. I imagine falling- sailing so fast down that you can't think about the impact awaiting you. All I'd think about is freedom. My head is so clouded with thoughts I don't want that it's sometimes difficult to shove them back where they belong- forgotten. A gust of wind blows in my face, pushing me forward with gentle, weightless hands. Yet I feel them like I feel music. I feel the wind inside. It is not something easily understood, but I grasp that it is all in my head. All in my head. I take a step forward and look over the edge of Cliff Waker. Below me is the hard ground, dry with thirst. All life is gone, except a few small bushes, and even they are thirsty for rain, waiting for the drought to end. I think about all the times Ashley and I dared each other one step forward. Just one more inch. It was all fun and games until July of 1996, when a three year old little boy stumbled off the edge and met his death. We never played around the edge after that. I imagine my crumpled up body lying at the bottom, lifeless and starting to grow cold- blood oozing out my mouth. It makes me shudder, but the thought of Lily finally realizing the damage, consumed with guilt, almost makes me smile.

My head feels heavy, so heavy. And my heart feels numb, so numb. I look up at the sun and stare at it until I feel my eyeballs might burst into flames. The wind blows again, whispering in my ear, and I creep closer to the edge. The tips of my toes hang off and I'm doing a balancing act at the circus. The audience? Only clouds, and this dreadful weight on my head. I start to sway. I want so bad to fly. It's a deep pain in my chest. A large lump in my throat. I want to be free. I want to feel weightless. I want to jump. I think about Lily, about Lucas, about life, and don't see a reason why I can't jump. Why shouldn't I? I deserve more than my lot in life. I've been dealt an unfair hand of cards. I crouch down and pick up a small pebble. I drop it over the edge, and watch It fall straight and fast all the way down the cliff and hitting the valley floor below. I lean over a little bit more and feel myself slightly tipping. I can hear the birds chirping merrily in the distance and I imagine I have feathery wings, downy and soft. Spreading my wings, I leap, and feel the wind. My ten seconds of freedom. My ten seconds of flight.