Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Dead Point

"Dead Point"
by Jessie Baum

The bell rings. Walking home from school, one hand on her backpack strap, one swinging. Ditch the bag. Pulse racing as she climbs the fire escape of a building not her own. Walk across the roof—sun directly overhead. Shield her eyes and clamber onto the wall on the edge of the roof.

Dead point. Exhilaration; flat somehow, feeling her heartbeat throughout her body, building to a strange high.

Panting slightly as she starts down fire escape on the other side. Stops in the middle of the fire escape. Cool shade, pressing her back against the damp cement. Crouch, then lie down on the crusty black bars. Looking up at the sky. Waiting. Sigh. Breathe even. Resting now. Maybe not. Not today…

No, they’re coming. She can hear their sneakers crunching the broken-up tar below.

She crouches up. They're rounding the corner. Getting into view.

Her breath comes faster. Heady feeling. Chest compressing.

They're joking and laughing too loud. There he is.

They walk into the alley, right under her. She can see their hair. Zoom in on him. He has terrible dandruff. Feel the perverse satisfaction. See, no one is perfect, least of all you. Watch again. Feeling the pain in her heart as he pulls that girl closer, hand staying on his waist as if glued there. They light up and the sweet smell drifts up. Resists coughing and/or holding breath. Told him to stop that stuff… he’s so stupid, then why do I want to be with him still? Still love—no. Impossible. Never. Love stopped the day I followed him here… Knew it was stupid, then why... Suspected the other girl, saw him here with her, this one’s a slut too—she doesn’t love him, better then, he doesn’t deserve you—maybe, maybe, he didn’t—no but then I loved him and made sacrafices but he—he wouldn’t give this up. He said he’d stopped, maybe he did and I saw him when he’d gone back—no. DON’T KID YOURSELF.

Rule #1—don’t lie to yourself. Why are you here?

The girl's shaggy hair moves closer to him. She whispers something.

Why do I want him? Why do we always want what’s worst for us? She presses her face to the iron.

He hit on me in class the other day. I was sure. He is so twisted. So sick. Stay away… The pain hits. His face, his gross scalp, lost forever.

Never. He could still come back… but he won’t.

Him and Slut make out. She has curly hair. Everyone else is reduced to slurring.

Her hatred churns ger stomach. He is not allowed to make her feel this way. Not allowed. The light floaty feeling that hit her even though she didn't want it is gone. She is grounded. She gets up. No one hears. She turns and takes one last look before climbing. Dead Point.