Jessica bursts through the door that leads into my dorm room with a sudden urgency, her face red from apparent running and streaked with sweat, "Claire, you got to come quick, you're brother is gonna do it tonight!" My initial concern of her entrance turns into horror as I feel the blood from my face leave and my heart quickening. I knew this was no joke.
Without even questioning it, I jolt out from my seat that belonged to my computer desk, the screen left at the never-ending blinking cursor of the essay I've been writing.
In full panic mode, I turn towards Jessica, "where is he right now!?" My voice comes out trembling and louder than expected from alarm. She meets my question with a serious expression "He's not too far from here. Maybe a block or two down, standing at the ledge of a tall building. Police and EMTs are already at the scene, trying to get him to come down. I'll take you to him, you might be the only one who can."
My body felt cold at her words and tears threatened to spill out as we rushed to her car. Thoughts rushing through my mind as Jessica made a beeline to the scene, currently not caring about the speed limit.
Is Chris really doing this? There's gotta be a mistake, it's not him. He should be at his own dorm doing his own schoolwork. Chris had put us through a few scares in the past, but he never fully went through with it, especially not to this extreme. He never had the heart. He was always such a gentle boy and had a kind and caring personality. What sent him off to go to these lengths? Why didn't he contact me? I'm not too far from his part of campus…
The car jerked to a sudden stop, which also jerked me out of my thoughts. Looking out through the windshield I can see we were parked right in front of the building where supposedly Chris is at. All I can see from my view is a crowd of probably over fifty people, standing around, talking amongst themselves as they look above them. My brother never liked this kind of attention.
Getting out of the car, I looked above me, and there he was, standing at the ledge of the roof. I was terrified, and Chris also looked like he shared the same feeling, he looked almost unsure of what he was doing. I pushed my way through the crowd, getting through to the front to where the local officers and EMTs are at, my focus fixed on Chris and his movements, scared that something will change at a moments notice.
Approaching one of the officers, he glanced over at me and blankly asked, "you his sister?" I simply nodded, words not able to come out at the moment. "That building has twenty four floors to it", he added. "What's the fastest way up?" I blurted out, my body jumpy and on edge, ready to spring to Chris's side. The officer sighed and paused for a moment, "I guess the elevator has been out of commission for a while. My men are already up there, in position. We have negotiators on the ready. We can't predict his next move, but I think we got this covered."
I frowned at that. "You think your men, complete strangers, are good enough to convince him down?" A scoff came out. "I doubt that. My brother doesn't trust many people. I think someone close to him, like me, can get more done than them." I glared at him, returning the slight arrogance he held in his voice.
He opened his mouth again in retort, almost as if he rather waste his time here trying to start an argument than save a life, but I was already rushing towards inside the building, his words quickly lost on me.
He was right, the elevator was blocked off from the inhabitants of the building with a large "Out of Order" sign posted on the side of the doors. I immediately went for the stairs. I didn't care about going up twenty four flight of stairs if it meant saving my brothers life. I don't know if Chris was serious with this, but I know I am.
My breath was ragged and my legs were burning from all the exercise, but I pushed myself to keep going. The stairs felt like they went on forever. My senses were on the highest sensitivity,I tried to see if my ears, outside of my feet clanking on the metal steps, can pick up any progress or sounds from the roof, any indication that maybe he stepped down or if the worst already happened….
I furiously wiped away tears at the thought. Memories flashed through my mind, snippets of our life together, almost taunting me. My body pushed itself as my pace went even faster. I won't let it end like this, Chris!
After for what felt like an eternity in that spiraled hell, I burst through the final door that could have only led to the roof. A sudden gust of wind took the door on its own and chilled my bones. I stopped and took a second, catching my breath and seeing ahead of me the negotiators quickly giving a glance to me and more importantly, my brothers back to me as he stood on the edge.
"Chris?" My voice rang out. I can hear the clamor of the crowd from even up on the roof, but it almost felt distant, muffled. My whole attention was on him, my baby brother.
He didn't even look back once. I felt a twinge of panic. I know he heard me. "Chris… it's me, Claire." I started to take a step, and the wind was so strong I almost lost balance, but continued cautiously towards him. The negotiators stayed put, watching me. A half-smile formed as I stopped before him again. "Chris, c'mon, let's go home." I reached out a hand, wishing he would just turn around and take it.
"Why should I bother?" His voice cut through all the commotion. "This life has nothing left for me." He sounded scared, yet his deadpan tone scared me. My hand dropped to my side. I started for him again, "Chris, that's not true! You have so much-" "Don't get any closer!" He screamed out suddenly, which made me stop in my tracks. I didn't want to push him.
I clenched my fists, fighting the urge to grab him quickly and yank him away from the edge. "Chris, you're okay. Whatever is going on with you right now I promise, you-we-will get through this, together. You don't have to do this. Think this through."
A long pause.
I feel like my heart stopped from how fast its pounding.
"I did think this through. Long and hard." He turned his head slightly to look back at me, flashing a small grin, and to my terror, his body started leaning forward off to the side of the building.
I rushed after him, my blood pounding in my ears, arm outstretched to grab him. I think I screamed but I didn't hear anything. I felt like I was in slow motion.
When I made it to the ledge, my hand was only inches away from grabbing his shirt, but I wasn't fast enough.
I almost had him.
I screamed after him again, helplessly watching him slowly fall to his death as pedestrians and police watch from below. I turned my head away from it all, crying as I heard his body hit the ground.
It didn't feel real.
I almost had him.