Erica A. Leong
|Influences||Bojack Horseman, The Bridge by Eric Steel, David Foster Wallace|
|Bio||Erica is a vertically-challenged architecture student currently taking a well-deserved break from model-making.|
The View From Halfway Down
LaMont looked on down from the bridge—it was time. The wind whispered softly, the water screamed sublime. He glanced into the horizon, admiring the seductive panorama of San Francisco, Angel Island, Alcatraz, and the East Bay. The sun was swollen and fat with heat. He could feel the side of his face start to cook.
Husband to no one, father to none. White-collar salaryman, deeply estranged son. Crippling alcohol addict, lonely misfit—a stupid fucking piece of shit.
He had lost his job—not that he did not know where it was, but he had gone in as usual one day and there was some other fellow doing it.
It was only the beginning of the domino effect, of course, then losses, and then more losses, and the alcohol was the only consolation against the pain of mounting losses, and of course he was in denial about the alcohol being the very cause of the losses. Alcohol destroys, slowly, but thoroughly. And so there were mild seizures, delirium tremens during attempts to taper off too quickly, another crippling binge, and then eventually a terrible acknowledgement that some line has been undeniably crossed.
God-is-my-witness vows to buckle down and purge the addiction for good, a few adrenaline-rushed days of initial success, then a slip, then more fist-at-the-sky pledges, clock-watching, grandiloquent attempts at self-regulation, repeated cravings for the increasingly-brief periods of relief after two measly days of abstinence, ghastly hangovers, head-flattening guilt and self-hatred upon superstructures of additional systematic regulations. (not available outside 9-5 on business days)
When he was high he wanted to get sober and when he was sober he wanted to get high. Finally it was impossible to get high enough to feel any sort of relief. He lived that way for years, and I promise you that that wasn't living, that was a bloody death-in-life, a fucking living death. By the end of it he was undead, not alive—and I tell you that the idea of dying then was far superior to living like that for another five to ten years or so and then dying.
He could not get drunk and he could not get sober. He could not get high and he could not get straight. Then it finally hit him, that he was in serious trouble, very fucking serious trouble, because now he had hit rock bottom way up high, standing precariously 67m above the sea, on the edge of this impossible steel monstrosity. This was it, the jumping-off place, the point of no return--but was it the end?
It isn't hard to kill yourself at the Golden Gate bridge. There is only a four-foot safety rail separating the sidewalk from the void, and 98% of attempts here have succeeded. After a four second fall, one would hit the water at a speed of 120km/h, with a force equivalent to a lorry crashing into a wall. The predictability of deaths there is such, in fact, that from dawn to dusk every day of the past year, LaMont had stood on the north side of the bridge on a fishing pier at Fort Baker in Marin County, and witnessed 18 deaths.
LaMont looked down at the water again, and it didn't look quite so cool and innocuous as it did before.
You see, what many people do not understand is that nobody finds death appealing, not even the so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill himself. The act of suicide is never committed out of ‘hopelessness’ or some abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square.
Make no mistake about the people who leap from burning buildings. Their terror of falling from a great height is just as great as it would be for any other person experiencing vertigo as he leans against the parapet of a fifty-storey skyscraper--the fear of falling remains constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire, being simultaneously strangled by the smoke and calcined by the flames. But when the fire gets too close, falling to the death becomes the slightly less terrible of the two terrors.
Nobody desires the fall—they simply fear the fire more. The person who suffers from this intolerable and invisible agony will kill himself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise.
And yet no passer-by down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling 'DON'T!', can understand the reason for the jump.
There was a fragrant stillness in the wind. LaMont felt like a marionette with prosthetic skin. He clasped his hands together and leaned forward.
His toes untouched the decking. His body catapulted into a free fall, and the sky seemed to swallow him whole. All he wanted was to hit the water and go peacefully into the night. But he did not feel the relief he expected to feel.
Amidst the nebulous pulsation in his skull he was suddenly met with an overwhelming sense of clarity. Life's a bitch and sometimes you die. But he did not want to die. Instantly he realised that everything in his life that he thought was unfixable was totally fixable—
Except for having just jumped.
There was no doubt about it—he was water bound. But no one had told him how much clearer the view was from off the ground.
The air was taught, he could not breathe. He opened his mouth but he could not scream. He thrashed to break from gravity. He struggled to slow the drop.
But it was too late. The deed was done.
The silence drowned the sound.
Before he leaped, he should have seen:
The view from halfway down.