Today’s the Day You Save a Life

You’re on your way to lunch when you walk by a crowd of people staring up toward the sky. You look up and see someone at the top of a building getting ready to jump to his or her death. Quickly you realize you know this person—in fact, it’s someone from work. Something about this moment overtakes, so you rush to the top of the top of the building to save this person’s life.

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

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403 thoughts on “Today’s the Day You Save a Life

  1. sjmca1966

    at the inscription on the gravestone:
    MOUNTFORD, Trooper, GERALD GREGORY, G/504.
    Otago Mounted Rifles, N.Z.E.F. Killed in action 27th August 1915. Age 27.
    Son of James and Elizabeth Mountford of Winton, Southland, New Zealand.

    I sat down beside her cross-legged and let her fall into me, “I never even met him, why am I feeling this way?” she said.

  2. write4life44

    Every single person between 134th and Broadway heard the howl, it echoed from deep inside, exploding on to the busy street like a blast from a cannon, temporarily waking the mindless nine to five drones from their repetitive comas. I had finally done it, I had sold my first manuscript, THE PARALLEL HELL OF THE HUMAN CANINE CONNECTION. They said it was brilliant, they said it was a refreshing comedy unlike anything they’d ever read before. I wrote it, Me, I can’t believe it! I thought to myself, then I glanced down at the six-figured validation in my hand and realized, that it was, in fact, real. I floated along the avenue with a new found confidence and a pep in my step. I exhaled a sigh of relief and looked up. “THANK YOU GOD,” I said gratefully, then I noticed something strange, something out of place in the chaotic order of the bustling city. Was it a jumper? Was it someone taking in the view, what? I asked myself. His body language wasn’t right, and I knew it, and in that moment I knew I needed to act. I looked back and forth in a panic, nobody-not a single soul on that busy sidewalk or street noticed him. My God I whispered, as I rushed through the thick traffic, dodging the cars and the cries of angry horns. I made it to the other side of the street and through the doors of the ABC building and on to the elevator. What am I doing? I thought, as I pressed the button for the top floor. What would I say when I got there? I’m not qualified for this. My life’s been a total disaster til now, I thought, but a sense of urgency overcame me. Don’t panic-stay calm, I told myself. The glass elevator was slow and the sweat of anxiety poured over my skin. I paced the narrow space inside the rising metal box. I got it! I could tell him how I too was down and out and felt like giving up, but then I found the strength within and sparred with my own adversarial demons and knocked him on their sorry tails. No way that’s too cliche, I realized as I felt the dread of time running out.
    The elevator neared and I began to panic, unsure of myself and my ability to talk a perfect stranger down off the ledge of despair. I thought about hitting the button for the lobby and retreating, but I pressed on.
    Maybe I should just listen, I thought to myself, as the door opened. The wind was fierce and I struggled to reach him, he squirmed as I neared, he shrugged as I laid my hand upon his shoulder and gently tugged. I stood there on the precipice with only a split second to somehow make a difference, then he turned, and I suddenly realized, as a pair of eerily familiar eyes pierced my own that I was standing face to face with myself, my own fears my own anxieties. I was frozen and tried to speak but couldn’t.
    “No” I screamed, as I woke in a pool of sweat, wide-eyed and gasping, peering around the room for some sign of reality. I shook the cloudy angst of panic from my head and pinched myself to make sure I was alive and kicking. “I gotta stick to comedies.”

  3. Ratboy111

    “Don’t jump!” I yelled. “What do care? You never talk to me at work. Plus, you don’t understand how I feel.” Coletta shouted. What was I doing up here on this 10-story building knowing full well I have acrophobia. It all started today at the office. Something felt weird about today especially since everyday at work was always the same. Coletta was an intriguing essence of beauty and she was always busy. I wanted to ask her out, but I would always freeze up on her and walk away brisky. Today, she didn’t show up to work. I got worried. During my lunch break, I walked towards a sandwich shop. I noticed a group of people staring up in the sky. I look up and saw a woman about to jump to her death. Once she dropped her hat, I knew who she was and rushed up the building to stop her. “What do you mean?” I asked. “I wanted you to know I have feelings for you.” She explained. “I have a confession to make. I didn’t have the courage to tell you that I love you Plus, I was afraid you would reject me.” I told She slipped and fell. Fortunately, I caught her. “I won’t let you fall.” I promised her.

  4. Lightaqua

    Bobby Greene was a quiet man. Not many people knew him; if anyone ever came to know of his existence it would be because he’d done something bad or weird. Bobby Greene filled a slot on the Earth, and it could be argued that that slot was wasted on him because he wasn’t really significant. But Bobby Greene was me, and I was the one who should be on the top of the building threatening to take this empty life.
    For some reason though, Frank, the ladies man, the one with the looks, the popular and extroverted one, the one who had it all, the one called Frank the Tank, was on the top of the building, easily ready to take his life. One glance at him and I thought that maybe I could help him. Maybe Bobby Greene could save a life, even though he couldn’t save his own. It made sense- I’d tell him about my pathetic life, he’d laugh about it, and then he’d realize how great his own was.
    So, I got to the top of the old building despite some protests from the crowd below. Frank, who was at the edge looking down, heard me and he turned to get a good look. I watched as his eyes tried to recognize me.
    “Hi,” I said, as I raised my hand up.
    “H-hi?” he questioned; he didn’t recognize me.
    “Hey, I’m Bobby Greene and your Frank, we work together,” I explained.
    “Oh,” he said and then eyeballed the floor below him again.
    “Don’t jump,” I said and he cocked an eyebrow.
    “Why not? You don’t even know me.”
    “You’re right, I don’t know you, but I know who you are. They call you Frank the Tank. You have it all. Honestly, I’m the one who should be here, no one knows me, I bet no one would try to save me; my life is the pathetic one.”
    Frank just stared at me, but then chuckled.
    “Why don’t you jump with me then?”
    “Because, you shouldn’t jump, you have a good life.”
    “No! You’re wrong. I’ve made some mistakes and they’ve come to haunt me. Now, no one that I love wants to be around me. That’s why no one that I really know is here trying to stop me.” He then looked down slowly and solemnly.
    I took a deep breath.
    “Frank everyone makes mistakes, then the consequences follow. It’s going to be alright. That’s why people have each other so that they can get the help they need. Just because some people are reluctant to help you doesn’t mean everyone will be. I’ll help you, we could be friends, if you’d like. What do you say?” I extended my hand out for him to shake.
    At first he stared hesitantly, but then he gave me a smile and walked forward. He shook my hand and said: “You know, you’re life isn’t pathetic.”
    “Why not?” I questioned.
    “Because, you know how to save a life.”

  5. Raindance

    The last door. I pushed and, because I could not waste time looking for something to hold it open with, I used my shoe.
    Sam? he turned abruptly from the edge of the roof to look at me
    What are you doing up here?
    Well that’s what I came to ask you, everyone on the street is under the impression that you are about to jump.
    Sam looked back out at the empty air and rooftops that surrounded him, I slowly made my way over to him
    They’re right you know?
    you are about to jump?
    yes.
    Would you mind explaining to me why?
    I’d rather not, I’m afraid I have made my decision and talking to you about it will only delay the inevitable.
    I stepped as close to the edge as I dared and looked down at the street, my stomach jumped up to my chest
    where is your shoe?
    it’s holding the door open for when we decide to go back inside, have you looked down?
    There was no answer
    Sam, have you looked down at the street? I don’t really understand how you’re standing there, it’s very nerve wracking to say the least.
    that’s because you’re afraid of falling
    and you’re not?
    He just kept looking out
    Sam, I really don’t think you should jump.
    That’s easy for you to say!
    well I guess, it’s easy for anyone to say, no one wants to die, not really.
    I do
    you still haven’t told me why.
    His silence made me nervous, I didn’t understand what I was doing.
    Sam, are you lonely?
    He looked at me.
    I think maybe… Sometimes I wonder how people cope with life, more often that not I feel that I’m at the end of my rope. I think you feel like that Sam. And maybe your problems are worse than everyone else’s but everyone feels the weight of them just the same. But they are only unbearable when you’re alone, so my question is, are you lonely Sam?
    Yes.
    Me too. I really wish you would come inside with me.
    I can’t
    Sam, I don’t think you really want to jump. Why did I say that? That cannot the right thing to say to someone on a ledge.
    He looked down at the street for the first time and I reached for his hand. He grasped mine tightly, I was afraid.
    All those people, it would ruin their day
    I almost wanted to laugh.
    yes Sam, I really think it would. Please don’t jump. Please, I really don’t want you to. Don’t you think life is better if you live it for the people around you?
    I don’t know.
    I do know.
    So is it?
    Yes.
    He took a deep breath. Maybe he thought it felt good to do so, maybe he thought he wanted to keep doing it.
    It would be a shame not to breathe again, even if it’s city air.
    When we got back out to the street people were clapping, some were crying. I vomited in the bushes.

  6. brittnobabe17

    I jumped out of bed thinking it was going to be a regular old day at work; guys hitting on me (some being my coworkers), goofy managers, and, of coarse, rude ass guests to deal with. I pulled my apron off walking out of the doors from work and started walking down the street to catch a cab. I looked around observing all of the people around, imagining if their days had gone any worse than mine had today. Caught in my wonder I suddenly heard an alarming scream that snapped me back to reality. I whipped around to maybe what was wrong with the woman behind me. My eyes then directed to where she was looking; up.
    My eyes widened in horror as my coworker Gavin was standing on the ledge of the building looking straight down on all of us. “Gavin!” I screamed as fear poured over me. My adrenaline was rushing and my heart was beating at an accelerated rate as I instinctively bolted inside the building and into the elevator. I jabbed at the button that said “Roof” about a millions times hoping that it would make it go up somehow faster. The elevator made a ding! noise as the doors seemed to open in slow motion. I squeezed through yelling, “Gavin, wait!” Praying that I wasn’t too late as sweat beads rolled down my four head.
    His beautiful blond hair blew in the breeze as his eyes were filled with tears and despair. He looked over the ledge and then back at me again. I remember him always making jokes at work and hitting on one of our younger lady bosses even though he was only seventeen. Every time he walked by me he would say some cheesy line like, “What’s cookin’ good lookin’?” and give me his dashing pearly white smile. He was flawless, he hadn’t a care in the world. Or so he showed.
    “I can’t do this anymore.” He whispered softly as tears spilled over and rolled down his face.
    “No, please don’t do this,” I begged him with tears falling to the ground, but it was too late.
    Gavin closed his soft blue eyes and whispered something that I couldn’t quite make out. He then inhaled a deep breath and stepped off the edge as I was running towards him. My scream was deafening that probably echoed around the world, along with the crowds scream below that had formed. Then as I leaned over the edge as I watched him fall everything went silent even though everyone else was still screaming. I wanted to vomit up the lunch I hadn’t eaten yet thinking of all the things I should have said to him but hadn’t. What an unexpected lunch.

  7. Ksgirrl

    So, this is the first time I have posted anything.
    (I know my grammer is horable)

    “What are all those people looking at?” Brian thought, as always Brian was a little slower than the Common Joe or Bob,
    Rebecca, Scott. “Ah well don’t matter” he thought as he fast-walked down the sidewalk. A girl with a bun in her hair (not the hair style an actual bun, the honey glazed kind folks.) Walked full on into an elbow Brian had thrown.” Oh my are you okay” Brian asked helping her up. He was by nature a Gentleman. “Geez your bleeding, look im sorry it’s just I was gonna be late to work and-” Looking into her face he thought he reconized her. “Are you Josie from accounting?” He asked
    “Yeah I am I was eating lunch and this kid chucked a bun at me I was gonna try and get it out but I was rushing to this meeting and yeah. She said this with a sigh
    ” You mean the one about the Dover account? Asked Brian
    “Yeah” said Josie, Brian Looked at his watch “Oh crap that meeting ended twenty minutes ago!”
    “Hmm I wonder how it went?”
    “AHHHHHH” Brian and Josie heard, the crowd gave a collective “OOOH” as three-hundred pounds of pinstripe Plumated threw the air and on to the ground.
    Brian uttered a grunt
    “Apparently not well.

  8. phantomphan

    I opened the door of my car and got out. As I approached my workplace, I saw a crowd gathered near the front entrance. I hurried toward the mass of people and looked in their direction. Above us, atop the five-story building, a man was perched on the edge. He looked perplexed. I strained my eyes trying to see who it was. Suddenly, something clicked into place and I knew who it was.

    It was him. The man I had had a silly school girl crush on for the past six months. His name was Jordan and he worked with me in the office building. I couldn’t let him jump. I couldn’t let him hurt himself. This was my chance to save him.

    I pushed through the increasing number of people and into the building. A hum had spread through the lobby. People were milling about, whispering to one another about the event unfolding above them. I looked to the elevator and saw the doors sliding open. I rushed over and threw myself in before the doors could shut. I was alone. I pushed the button for the top floor and rode the slow machine up.

    A queasy sensation formed in the pit of my stomach and settled there. What was I going to say? What if, as I stepped out onto the roof, Jordan jumped? I gulped and waited for the elevator to stop. A ‘dinging’ sound echoed around the small space. The doors opened and revealed a small gray room. There was a door directly in front of me which read “Roof.” I rushed out and pushed the door open. He turned around at the sound of me bursting through the door.

    “Melinda?” he slowly said. He was still perched on the side on the roof, one leg on each side of the short wall along the roof.

    “Jordan please, don’t hurt yourself,” I pleaded, inching closer. His eyes were frantic. I tried speaking again, “What made you do this?”

    He softly told me that he felt alone. His past two girlfriends had left him for other men, leaving him heartbroken. People ignored him at work and his family was long gone. His work effort was slowly declining and he was told to straighten up or lose his job.

    “Without this job, I won’t be able to support myself. Not in this economy. I feel so lost, there is nothing more I can do,” he said helplessly.

    “No, you’re wrong. You are a wonderful person and so-” I stopped myself. Petty compliments weren’t going to make the situation better.

    I took a deep breath and told the truth, “I’ve wanted to go on a date with you since you first began to work here. And I’d still like that chance. But, if you hurt yourself, it’ll be a missed opportunity. What do you say?”

    Tears gathered at the corners of his eyes and he nodded. Shakily he swung his leg over and stood up. I ran to him and pulled him away from the edge.

    “Thank you,” he whispered.

    *** A/N
    I didn’t really know how to end it, so I just kind of stopped it. I hope it wasn’t too abrupt?

  9. Empty, Completely

    I pushed the heavy, metal door to the roof open. Sunlight poured over the interior of the stairwell as I stepped out, panting. Fifteen floors is a long way to run. The door loudly slammed behind me. The man on the ledge turned to face me, and gave me a confused look.

    “What are you doing here?” he asked. I could have asked myself the same question, I didn’t even know the man’s name.

    I stammered, “I’m here to help you.”

    “Why?”

    Good question. Why was I up there? Why, of all people, did I think I would have been able to help this man? I’m not exactly what people would call a “positive person.”

    “Honestly, I don’t know. I saw you up here and I felt compelled to come help,” I finally answered.

    He snorted. “Ugh, please don’t tell me you’re about to lay some Jesus shit on me. Because if you are…”

    “Oh God, no!” I interrupted. He smirked. His reaction had given me a sense of confidence in my ability to help. I knew I had just met him, but he seemed to be my kind of guy. “So what’s going on?” I said, “Why are you doing this?”

    He stopped and thought for a bit. “I’m so tired, ” he began, ” tired of work, tired of the routine, tired of knowing that all my suffering is for nothing. Do you ever think about how meaningless this all is? How pointless our lives are? I mean, I’ve seen you around the office, I know you’re not like a doctor that’s saving lives or anything.” He must have seen me look pained at this comment. “No offense or anything, ” he was awfully courteous for someone about to kill themselves, “but, you know, I just don’t see the point. So I’m supposed to wake up every day, go to a job I hate, fill my free time with anything mindless enough to get my mind off of my work in order to what?” He paused as if expecting me to answer. I started to open my mouth when he continued, “Exactly! Nothing! You don’t know either. I’ve been working for fifteen years now and I have nothing to show, but some money saved in the bank. Sure, I have simple creature comforts, but what is that compared to spending every day obsessing over the fact that my existence is completely meaningless. All I have left in front of me is to retire, and die. Soon after that everyone will forget about me, forget I ever was. I don’t mean that as some sort of judgement against my loved ones, I just mean that, well, they will all die too. I’m not exceptional enough to have done anything to be remembered by. As terrified as I am of death, I can not bear live anymore, and I feel it’s time for a change.” He stopped, suddenly.

    “You, ” I said, “are completely right.” I walked over to the ledge, and peered over. “Thank you, ” I said. A smile spread over my face as I jumped. I had never felt so free. “Finally,” I thought as the wind rushed through my hair.

  10. jnelleiz

    The funny thing is, I don’t even like Meri. Besides never having been introduced to a shower and still insisting on breeching my oxygen bubble perimeter, she’s a bit of a grouch. Most days, she walks around the office mugging as if someone stole her winning lotto ticket. Her lipstick is always a bit smudged and she’s been known to use Comic Sans in all of her work related emails.

    But seeing her standing there–swaying in the wind, her hair more disheveled than usual and her back hunched in defeat–well, it just broke my heart. I’m a believer in second chances, no matter how reprehensible the person.

    “Meri?” I call her name quietly, hoping not to startle her to an accidental death. I could never clear my conscious of that. She turns ever so slowly and I see that her eyes are blood red from crying, her makeup smeared sloppily across her face.

    “Shawn? What are you doing up here?” She asks then turns back around before I can answer.
    “I’m just wondering what you’re doing up here, thought maybe you got lost or something.”
    “I’m gonna jump and there is nothing you can do about it.”
    “Oh, I wasn’t trying to talk you out of it. Obviously you’re about business here if you took all that time to climb those stairs.” I walk closer to her, realizing I have no plan, and at this rate, she’ll jump just to get away from my voice.

    To my relief I see that she’s fairly steady on her feet. Though close to the ledge, she isn’t in danger of accidentally falling.

    “So what brings you up here on this fine day?” I ask casually, taking a seat next to her. I’m a pretty strong guy, if she puts up a fight; I think I can take her.
    “My husband left me… for his stupid secretary.” She sputters, wipes her eyes with her sleeve, and peeks over the edge.
    “Is that all? I thought it was cancer… or murder? Did you kill somebody Meri? Because I can assure you, you’ve chosen a better route than prison. And you’re helping the taxpayer. That’s really sweet of you.” She looks over at me, completely baffled by my words.
    “What are you trying to do here? How do you even know my name? I thought you hated me.”
    “Oh, well, I can’t say you’re my favorite. But out of all the buffoons we work with, I’d say you’re the most tolerable. And I’d hate to say I saw you up here and did nothing. My mom would die of shame.”
    “She would?”
    “Oh yeah. My mom is a super Christian, almost to a fault. If she knew I let someone I know become sidewalk graffiti, I’d never hear the end of it. You know how Moms are.”
    “Yeah…”
    “You talk to your Mom much Meri?” It wasn’t my intention to get on the subject of mother’s, but I realize that it’s working. The anger in Meri’s eyes has been replaced with what I think might be hope. She steps down and sits next to me. I hear cheering from below, but we both ignore it.
    “Yeah. I talked to her last night, before I found out about Chase…”
    “And his bimbo?” I look over at her, my eyebrow raised in mock disgust.
    “Blonde, big chested, kinda squeaky voice.”
    “Ick. How cliché.” This produces a laugh, and I hand out one last olive branch.
    “Wanna grab a bite?” She looks over at me, still skeptical, but appearing less forlorn.
    “Sure.”

  11. chkymnky

    I clutch at my sides, gasping for breath. In between mouthy inhales, I press my lips together, close my eyes and hope it’s not too late. I thrust open the door to the roof, not certain how Dennis is going to react to this intrusion on what he hopes to be his last moments. But I have to stop him. We all know that the SEC was coming down on him. His wife even took the kids “to her mother’s house” until the inquiry and media melee settled down. What loving wife would abandon a man during one of the most tumultuous times in his life? Was she being insensitive? Or was his guilt so assured that she was disgusted by the man she married?

    It doesn’t matter. I have to stop him. Dennis is kneeling on the edge of the low parapet that separated the roof deck from the growing crowd 22 stories below. I call his name. He tilts his head in acknowledgement but he doesn’t look at me. Beneath sloping shoulders, his chest expands, then contracts. His resigned voice asks me not to stop him. It was more than the investigation, he says. It was even more than his wife. I wouldn’t understand, he tells me. There’s so much more that no one, not even I, could understand.

    I watch his shoulders quiver, then decide to tell him. I had planned to not say anything, but I can’t let him end like this. It was more than the glimpses of his bright smile and hearty laugh when he closed a sale, or the way he draws in confidences with his magnetic personality in every meeting and company event we have attended together. To watch the company make him a scapegoat in their shareholder ponzi scheme made my stomach curdle. To see his wife doubt his integrity was no doubt a torture to such a generous, sensitive soul. What else could have brought him to such a selfish act?

    “I’m pregnant.”

    His shaking stops. I watch his broad shoulders release part of the weight of his resignation. He slowly leans back, allowing his feet to reconnect with the gravelly roof, announcing his hesitation with soft crunches.

    “Really?” I hear him ask softly. His back heaves quietly, still facing me with his doubt. He can’t look at me. I know he doesn’t want to turn around until he is sure. Absolutely sure.

    “Yes,” I tell him. Then I tell him what he yearns to hear: “We need you.”

    It is then that the hitching begins. He slowly turns to me, his eyes red and wet with fat tears. That prompts my own tears to fall.

    “I’ll quit if I have to,” I say.

    But I do not have to say it. He knows. I can see that he knows when he sobs, clasps me in his long arms, and buries his face into the curve of my neck. I settle my hands and my face into the softness of his hair. Whatever happens, Dennis doesn’t have to end. For us, he is just beginning.

  12. Turtled

    He couldn’t believe Tim was out on that ledge, “What could he be thinking?” Pat said to no one in particular as he pressed the elevator button quickly several more times. “C’mon, c’mon…OK it is only 15 flights; it hasn’t been that long since high school track.”
    That optimism got him to Floor 7. The remaining eight were a stark reminder that he had let himself go; too much partying in college, and a steady diet of cigarettes and beer since. His mind raced much more quickly than his legs as he crawled the few remaining steps. “Dang, can you imagine Tim plunges to his death all because I have?”
    His sense of direction completely distraught, Pat turned left. Three right turns later he was finally headed in the right direction. He moved quickly glancing through the doors to his left. He knew he would recognize Tim’s office by the big ugly picture on the door.
    He made his way into the office and over to the open window. Without much thought, he lifted his leg onto the heater below the window. The flimsy metal top gave a bit, reminding him that he had also been eating too many pizzas lately.
    “Tim, I ‘m coming.” He shouted as he grabbed a hold of the window frame and pulled his left leg up. The burn in his muscles caused him to cringe and his body shuddered from exhaustion. He closed his eyes to mask the pain and steadied himself, now fully out the window standing on the ledge. Moments passed like hours. He could hear the crowd below gasp and shouts came from the street. He imagined how heroic his actions must seem. He took a deep breath and opened his eyes. Looking to either side, he was confused as to why he could not see Tim.
    His breath uneasy and his mind spinning a bit, Pat drew in his breath and called Tim’s name. Pinned against the ragged edges of the stone blocks, his hands grasping at nothing. The only thing keeping him on the ledge was the unsteady balance in his legs. Pat closed his eyes again and wondered if the light breeze was going to turn heavier and upset the delicate balance.
    Gathering his senses once more, Pat opened his eyes and again looked around, but Tim was nowhere to be seen. A single unimaginable thought penetrated his wistful brain, “He couldn’t have?” Reluctantly he looked down to the sidewalk and the gathering of people. He scanned the pavement directly below, but saw no signs of a body.
    Just as he was about to look back up, a familiar figure walked into the foreground.
    “Dude, what are you doing up there??” Something about this moment overtook Tim and he rushed toward the front entrance of the building. “Hold on Pat, I’ll be right there!”
    “What the f…?”

  13. Amy

    Falling For You

    “I’m going to lunch Jilly,” I called to my coworker.

    She answered me as she approached the candy counter. “Enjoy yourself Grace. Are you meeting Kevin?”

    “No way. I’m so over him. He wasn’t the right guy for me.”

    “Better to find out now, right?” she replied with a smile.

    “You better believe it! Can I bring you something back?”

    “Not today, thanks.” She busied herself rearranging the fudge display as I left the shop.

    I walked through the crowded theme park, trying to decide which food vendor to visit today. Folks were ruder than usual. A whole group just stood there, smack in the middle of the pathway, looking upwards.
    What had everyone so enthralled? My gaze followed the path of the others. What was that up there? Who…oh God, it couldn’t be.

    He stood there, poised on the precipice of the tallest building in the park-a replica of the Empire State Building, complete with King Kong.

    Walking to the edge, he stopped and looked down, swaying slightly. The crowd gasped. Although I couldn’t see Kevin’s face, I imagined his expression was one of pain and bewilderment.

    ‘God, no Kevin,’ I thought. ‘I never meant for you to end it this way.’ Just last night, I’d told him I was leaving.

    I had to save him. I looked up one last time as the crowd made a collective moan. Kevin stepped from the ledge onto King Kong’s outstretched fist, the one that held the replica of the screaming actress, whatever her name was.

    There wasn’t much time. I shouldered my way through the melee, ignoring the protests as I used my elbows to clear a path. Soon, I was at the base of the building and climbing skyward, praying with each inch gained.

    I reached the ledge where I’d first seen him, my own presence causing more anxious sighs from below. God, that was a long drop. I shivered as I stood there, frozen on the edge. Taking a deep breath, I stepped off, closing my eyes until my feet hit the solid surface.

    I was face to face with Kevin now. He looked shocked to see me.

    “What the Hell…? Grace-what are you doing?”

    “What are YOU doing? I’m not worth it, you know. It’s a foolish, romantic notion to kill oneself for love.”

    “Kill myself? For love? What on earth are you talking about Grace?”

    “You, up here, pining away for me.”

    “You’re crazy girl. I’m not pining away for you and I’m not suicidal. I’m on a repair mission. It’s my job.”

    “Oh.” I felt…disappointed somehow. I’d risked my neck to climb up here and save his sorry ass. Looking down, I was suddenly dizzy. I attempted a smile. “Well, it looks like I jumped to the wrong conclusion,” I said lightly.

    “Yeah,” Kevin agreed. “And it looks to me like you’re about to just jump.”

    “What’s that supposed to mean,” I asked, my heart in my throat.

    “You’re lovesick, remember?” Kevin asked.

    He pushed me.

  14. super.boone

    I decided to walk to a sub-shop several blocks west of the store for lunch that day. It would leave me with less time to sit and eat, but hopefully the walk would clear my head.
    I’d nearly reached the shop when I noticed a crowd of people at the base of an apartment building. As I stepped closer I noticed that they were all looking and pointing upward. My eyes followed the line of their fingertips and I gasped as I saw the figure on the very edge of the roof. He was stock-still, staring outward, with the sun at his back. I couldn’t make out his face from down on the sidewalk, but I immediately recognized Pat’s wide shoulders and his fiery hair glowing in the afternoon light.
    Before I could stop to think about it I had shoved through the gawkers and was inside the building, rushing up the stairs. At the top I paused behind the door to the rood and sucked in air, catching enough air that I’d be able to speak again. Then I pushed the door open and stepped out onto the roof, gravel crunching beneath my feet.
    “Well it’s about fucking time.”
    Pat whipped his head towards me, tear-puffed eyes squinting in the sun. “What?”
    “I said it’s about time! We’ve all seen this coming a mile away.”
    “Don’t try to stop me, Boone!”
    I forced out a dry laugh, praying that he’d buy into it. “Who said anything about stopping you? I’m here to make sure you do it.”
    He blinked and shifted to face me fully, the brick ledge scraping under his soles. “I – you, what?”
    ” ‘Whaaaat?’,” I mewled at him, mockingly. “You heard me you little ginger shit, I know you’re dumb but you’re not deaf.”
    He continued to stare at me blankly, and I took a deep breath and growled, “Just do it! We’re all sick of your whiny ass. Do you know how great this morning was for me? It’s because you weren’t there mucking everything up! It’s the first peaceful day I’ve had at work in weeks!”
    My voice raised into a yell as I got into it. “You know you only keep that job because I feel too sorry for you to kick you out. I’m sick of carrying your dead weight Pat. You haven’t done anything with your life and you’re dragging us down! Just do me a favor – hell, do us all a favor – and jump!”
    I stepped closer, screaming only a couple feet from his face. “Jump you useless fucker, JUMP!”
    I had a split second to see the infamous Irish rage flaming up in his eyes, then Pat growled and leapt at me. I heard a sickly crunch as his fist slammed into my nose; warm blood instantly gushed over my lips and chin. I couldn’t see through the stars, but I wrapped my arms around his torso and threw my weight backwards, forcing us to crash and skid across the gravel.
    We lay there for a moment, gasping, my blood soaking both of our shirts. I spit, and say “Are dou gonna be a dumbbash if I leb go?”
    “No.”
    “Goob. I dun wanna hab to hit dou again.”
    His laughter booming across the rooftop is the most reassuring thing I’ve ever heard.

  15. Inspired

    I was walking down the street on my way to the office just as I had everyday for 5 and a half years, the only difference was that in all that time I had never come across a massive crowd blocking my path. Its incredible how quickly emotions can change- frustration that these people were going to make me late, bewilderment as to what they were looking at and then horror when I saw what they did.

    A woman was on the at the edge of a high rise building, quite clearly moments away from lunging into Deaths embrace. “Maria?!”

    I hadn’t realised I had spoken aloud until a security guard beside me asked me “Do you know this girl?” and had I stuck around to answer the answer would have been ‘Yes and no.’ I sprinted to the top praying I wouldn’t be too late.

    “Maria! Wait!” I gasped, she spun around startled- when she saw it was me she look shocked.

    “Jennifer, can we not? I’m gonna jump, you shouldn’t have got involved” she dangled over the edge.

    “But I am involved, you can’t do this to me Maria.”

    “Why do you care? You don’t even know me. I can’t live without Beth anymore, my little girl!” she broke down sobbing and took a step closer to the edge. I took a step closer to her too.

    “Your wrong- my son, he-he died 3 years ago and maybe I’ve only spoken to you a couple of times at the office but I DO know you!” I whispered.

    A tear rolled down her face “How did you do it, how did you forget him?”

    “I didn’t forget him, I lived for both of us” I reached my hand out to her, “you’ll do the same right?”

    Maria considered me for a moment then sniffed “You really think I could do it?”

    The only words that came to my lips in responce were “At least try… for him.”

    She took my hand.

    1. annefreemanimages

      Inspired – that was a huge subject for 500 words. Difficult to get across the desparate pain that the jumper was feeling, and how the narrator felt, too. I liked how she said, At least try… for him. that was touching. Liked the last sentence, too. Hope.

      ~Anne

      1. Inspired

        Wow very productive feed back, thank you. Yes, looking back I can see I could have done that part better what with the plot, glad you enjoyed some of it.

  16. aszalacinski

    The access door to the roof had to be open somewhere. I could feel a change in air pressure and a comfortable breeze blowing on my face as I sprinted up the stairs, leaping them two, sometimes three at a time. The lunch rush was on and no way would I have gotten an express ride to the top in one of the two elevators the dozen story high rise contained.

    Phillip had been acting a little off the last few days; late to work, interacting with the team less than usual, constantly running into an empty conference room to take a call.

    Out of breath and sweating buckets, I reach the last landing below the roof access and the door is indeed wide open. It’s been bashed open in fact.

    I take this in as I rush onto the roof and stop short. Another man and woman are on the roof as well, their backs to me. The woman has a semi-automatic pistol pointed at Phillip.

    “What the hell?”

    The man spins around at my arrival, dropping into a semi-crouch, raising his left hand toward me and placing his right hand on his back hip.

    “STOP! GET DOWN NOW!” shouts the man. As he shouts at me, I look at Phillip. His back is to all three of us; his arms are outstretched as if he is about to attempt to fly; in his hand is a cell phone. Phillip turns his head slightly to the left and looks over his shoulder; his glance falls over me briefly as he pivots his head a bit more to look at the woman holding the pistol on him. My arrival on the roof didn’t draw her attention at all.

    “Mr. Moore, turn around slowly, and walk away from the edge.” She spoke in a gentle but firm tone. “We know that you called in that last threat and we know you are working with someone else.”

    Phillip actually smirks at this statement. He turns his head away.

    “Hello Timothy. I won’t be making it to our 2:00 one-on-one. Events are not going as we planned”, Phillip states calmly.

    The other man had circled to my right where he could see both Phillip and I. At Phillips statement, his right hand came up quickly from his hip holding his own pistol, “GET DOWN, NOW!” orders the man as he takes aim at me.

    “Whoa! WHOA WHOA WHOA! What the hell is going on?” I manage to blurt as I belly flop onto the rooftop, the roof gravel digging into my palms and knees. Some bits get caught up in my watch band.

    The man pounces on me quickly and wrestles my arms behind my back. His knee is between my shoulder blades and my cheek and brow are now quite familiar with the brand of tar paper used on the roof. I can still see the woman and Phillip.

    The woman barks, “Mr. Moore, move away from the edge… NOW!”

    Phillip disappears.

    1. Ishmael

      Aszalacinski – I copied and pasted to make sure I got it right.

      Excellent story. Great tension throughout the whole thing. I loved your real-life descriptions: “change in air pressure, comfortable breeze” made sense…”steps two, three at a time” showed me his haste, not told me. You did this over and over again the entire story. It didn’t really matter what Phillip did. You spent your time/words on the important thing in this story, the protagonist. I could see what he saw, hear what he heard, feel what he felt – including the gravel in my watchband.

  17. smallPencil

    You know that point? When you’re walking on an icy sidewalk, or climbing stairs with one quarterly report too many, it’s coming. Everything starts to go south. You teeter and flail. There’s still a chance if you can just hang in there. Then comes that point. Your foot slides out just a tip too far. The report on top leans out just a bit more. It’s the point when you lose control. The point when you know you’re never getting it back.

    And the next thing you’re thinking is: did I ever really have it to begin with?

    The moment I, drawn to the street by panicked screams, stood among a gathered crowd tracing up seven stories of reinforced concrete and glass to see Andy Binkermann, one foot on the edge, one suspended upon the wind, I felt the sharp prick of that point in my future. And so I did what anyone would. I flailed.
    My heart was exploding like an infinite Hiroshima. The doorway leading to Andy’s final staircase rushed at me from across three lanes of traffic. I only remember the horns. Then I was bounding up the stairs like a gazelle. My wingtips, gun fire on the concrete. The stale odor of painted stone, molten lava in my chest. One thing occupied my mind: the next landing. No matter how fast it came it wasn’t fast enough. Then there was a door. I exploded out. The sharp intake of breath, the light: like breaking the surface in an old southern baptism. The roof door banged so loudly pigeons the next building over took flight. He didn’t even turn to look.

    “Andy-Champ!” I yelled. It came out as from an air blower. I had yet to catch my breath.

    “How did you know that name? Only my wife calls me that.”

    The air turned to ice, freezing me in place, sending chills up my spine. My breath, cement in my throat. He didn’t know? It’s not his reason for being up here?

    “You… and Sandy?” Now he did turn around. Inscrutably, he was smiling. I said nothing. He stood inches from oblivion. I stood upon an eggshell the size of the world. Then he did something I could not have predicted. He laughed.

    He stepped down from the ledge; then slumped against it. It was not the slump of a desperate man. There was relief in that slump. “How long?”

    “Almost a year.”

    He shook his head, whispering, “all along she was cheating on me, right back.” He chuckled softly. Then he got up and, turning away, leaned against the ledge. He gave a casual wave to the crowd below. It was an airy gesture. Then he turned and flashed me a congenial grin. “I guess it would be silly to jump now, huh?”

    1. annefreemanimages

      smallPencil: Enjoyed the story. That was a great way to end the story – a slip of the tongue and the truth spills out. I wish there were more time spent on the two of them talking.

      Although you wrote some great descriptions of the narrator’s realization and run to the top of the building, they took too much time away from the developing situation between the two men. For example, was Andy also cheating on Sandy? I think it was implied by the state “she was cheating on me, right back.” But I’m not sure.

      Sometimes, especially with these short short stories, we have to decide what to focus on. The run up the stairs, however colorful, is not nearly as important as the dawning relationship between these two men. Just my reaction.

      Nicely done.

      ~Anne

  18. jrotclover

    So there I was, coming home to base after a long 48 hour mission in the streets of a small Afghani town. It was mid-day, around 1300 hours and all I could focus on was finding some good lunch chow followed by a nice cold field shower and a much needed nap. I felt the sweat fall upon my face as I lifted my heavy Kevlar helmet from my sweaty brow and hung it on my weapons optic sight. The radiating Afghanistan sun made my body armor feel heavier on my body. My battle buddies and I quickly moved from our convoy unload point and headed for the chow hall. With the faint sounds of gunfire and mortars going off in the distance all I could focus on was going home in 6 months and holding my new wife in my arms, and seeing my baby daughter for the first time. As we walked closer to lunch time we noticed a group of soldiers surrounding a tall conex building with a tall satellite dish on top, except a lone soldier on top leaning closer and closer to the edge and falling to his depth. without thinking I dropped my gear and quickly climbed to the top, hoping to find out and save this mans life.

    As I scaled to the top of the Conex buildings, I recognized the upset soldier, He was a Private First class in my platoon. I carefully climbed to the top and joined the distressed soldier at the top on the satellite ledge. The strong winds blew the small deck violently left to right, causing me to grip the railing wih dear life, praying that I wouldn’t fall to my death! With the calmest voice I could muster, I asked,
    “Private! whats wrong? What is so horrible that you have to come all the way up here? Or are you trying to see home from here?” trying to lighten the situation.
    “My wife cheated on me and took all my deployment money. Ill come home broke and never see her or my son again, what do I have to look forward to anymore?”
    I couldn’t believe what I just heard, all I could think about was this poor private. So young and put in such a horrible situation and just made a million times worse. I could hear the rising voices as more and more soldiers gathered around the buildings. I took a deep breath and reached out my hand,
    “Its going to be ok soldier, you are so young and surrounded by people who care for you and would literally take a bullet for you. Let us help you and take care of you. But first we need you to get off this building before we both fall over!”
    “Yes Sergeant, if you promise that word doesn’t spread and I get kicked out of the military. It is all I have left and to live for. I’m a good soldier and just want to serve my country.” he replied.
    “I give you my word as an NCO, now come on down.”
    I couldn’t believe it, we slowly came down together and he was quickly taken by the companies medics to check for shock. I told him that I would come see him soon and promised him that he had nothing to worry about as long as I was his NCO. It was by far one of the most stressful days of my deployment, and desperately wanted to go home. But for now, a nice delicious beef ravioli MRE would suit me fine for now. As I sat outside my barracks I thought of that Private. I saved his life, I was glad that I made a difference in this deployment and something I would never forget for as long as I live.

    1. annefreemanimages

      jrotclover: This felt like a real story. My only suggestion is that you take more time in their dialogue and shave off some time in the lead-up to the NCO seeing the private. Their dialouge just resolved a bit too quickly , I think, considering the emotional stress the private was under. Although you did a terrific job describing how the NCO was feeling, the story is really about how the private is feeling. it’s always difficult to decide what to focus on in a short short story, but focus we must! Nice work.

      ~Anne

  19. gr8sv18

    Walking aimlessly down the street you see a gathering of people gazing up towards the sky. With your hands shoved into your pockets you begin making your way through the crowd without paying any attention to what’s going on around you. That is, until you hear a familiar voice calling out from the roof of the building to your right. You look up, in a futile attempt, to see the face of the person who is yelling but the sun is high in the sky and your eyes are rendered useless but the painfully bright light. Now you have to know who this person is, much the way a child’s desire grows as they are denied what they want. You have to get a glimpse of his face. You aren’t concerned with his safety or why he is standing up there, threatening to end it all.
    This urge to see his face comes from deep within your subconscious and it drives you up the fire escape that runs up the face of the building like a vine. You’re legs carry you effortlessly as you climb the fifteen flights of stairs. With the passing of each floor you grow sad, and as you pass the eleventh floor you somehow begin to feel and understand the pain of this man. This feeling is strange, you’ve never met this person but you know their troubles. You know now why they are prepared to jump and end it all. The stranger comes into view as you scale the wall at the top of the fire escape and as you move towards the stranger, trying to remain as silent as possible that’s when you realize that you haven’t made a sound this entire time, not even on the fire escape. You push this oddity from your mind and focus on the stranger ahead of you.
    He is still yelling, about what you do not know, but you do know him, on a deeper level than you have ever known anyone. You reach out and place your hand on his shoulder expecting him to turn around, but he does nothing. He continues screaming and blubbering. You move your lips to say something but are unable to produce even a whimper of a sound. The man startles you as he lurches forward off the edge. As he begins his descent he turns his back to the pavement so he is unable to see his inevitable death rushing towards him. It’s at this point that you notice the man has no face, he has a head but no face, it’s simply not there. His clothes! You notice his clothes are the exact same as those that you donned this morning, the same coffee stain on the shirt, the same missing penny in the left loafer. This is no stranger, this man is you! This is why you felt so compelled to see his face. Your mind draws blank as you watch yourself plummet to the ground.

    1. annefreemanimages

      gr8sv18 : An interesting twist to the prompt. I was wondering why you used “You” to reference the character instead of “I” It felt awkward to me reading that – not how we typically write or read a narrative. I’m wondering why you made that choice? I started reading the story again using I .

      I liked how you protrayed the jumper at the end – the man with no face. Very cool idea.
      ~Anne

      1. gr8sv18

        After reading it again you’re right. It is weird. I guess i wrote it as if I were reading to someone. Weird how that happened, thanks for pointing it out though!

  20. imprinted

    “Wait!” I screamed
    “Please don’t, I’m sorry” I added as I inched a little closer to the broken woman upon the edge of an eighty storey building.
    “You take just one more step and I will walk, I mean it. Just one more, I dare you” She replied
    “Can we not talk about this?”
    I asked as I leant in a millimetre closer, the lady before me was Greta, she worked in the offices above me. Her dark olive skin glistened in the sun revealing her faded tan lines from a weekend trip to the lakes a few weeks before. Her long dark hair was dancing in the gentle breeze, finally she parted her lips and with her sultry, inviting tone she said,

    “Do you have any idea how much you have hurt me?”

    I lowered my head in shame, forcing my gaze to the floor, blinking slowly as tears began to fill my eyes. Truth is I did know how much I had hurt her. I wasn’t proud of it, but how could I deny myself my feelings. After several long moments of silence I replied

    “I know Greta; I never set out to hurt you. Honest to God I didn’t, it just… happened”

    “It just happened” mimicked Greta,

    “Well how about if I just happen to walk off this ledge?”

    I looked at her for a minute digesting the situation, shrinking with every word that came from her deep red lips, ransacking my mind to a time when I thought that sleeping with the newly appointed file clerk would be a good idea. I had no explanations; I was full of only regrets and apologies. And I hated myself for it.
    “Look…” I started to say
    “She means nothing, I was lonely. We had that fight, and then you left for your business trip. Wouldn’t return my calls…”
    “So that gives you a free pass does it, did you not consider I might have been stuck in board meetings all week?” She interjected
    She had turned to face me now, her full locks covering her chin as she spoke. I was grateful to be looking into her eyes, but she had not yet stepped away from the sharp edge of the building.

    “This isn’t solving anything” I said,

    “Can’t we talk about this somewhere else, anywhere else, you name it” I pleaded.

    “You once saved me, remember? How you saved my life from Stacy, the way she treated me?” I paused for a minute reminiscing the dark moments of my time with her.

    “Let me do the same for you Greta, please”

    I out stretched my hand and took another step towards her, she looked into my eyes curiously and then at my hand, I would have given anything to know what she was thinking. Finally she laid her hand on mine and I clasped my fingers round it, pulling her gently towards me. I smiled, her eyes were sparkling from tears caused by pain.

    “Starbucks?” She asked

    1. annefreemanimages

      imprinted: Liked your story, and especially how it ended. the last paragraph was really nice and convincing. He was a jerk, knew it, confessed it, and she forgave him just enought to make room for herself to back down. Nicely done.

      ~Anne

  21. Mendon Hale

    I know I’m late, but this is my very first time I’ve posted something.

    Finally. It took over twenty minutes of standing in line, zombie-like and lifeless, just to get my two cheeseburgers. Where I proceeded to eat them while I was walking back to the office, where I immediately reminded myself that my diet starts on Monday.
    As I about two blocks away, I noticed a crowd gathering around one of the buildings. All of them were staring upwards. Usually I would avoid crowds like that, but there was something familiar about the building. It was my where my buddy, Carl, works. I wonder if he knows what’s going on? That’s when I decided to look up.
    My stomach sank as I looked up and saw my friend, Carl, wearing his USA tie that my wife got him for Christmas a couple months ago. What in the hell was he doing? Why was he on the ledge? My God, was he going to jump? Was he just washing his windows? What the hell, Carl?
    Without hesitation, I entered the building and rushed up the twenty flights of stairs to the roof. I opened the door carefully and looked around the roof for my friend. “Carl?” I shouted, “Carl, what the hell are you doing?”
    Carl looked at me with tears in his eyes, “Nate, stay away dude, I mean it,”
    “Seriously? Dude, what the hell is going on? Why the fuck are you on the roof?”
    “Nate, go away, I’m doing this and there’s nothing you can do. I’m sorry.”
    “Ok Carl,” I said as I walked toward him with my hands up, “look, whatever it was that happened or whatever it is you’re going through, it’s not worth killing yourself over. Ya know?”
    “You don’t know. You don’t know what it’s like to go through life waking up to a woman who doesn’t love you anymore. Going to a job where you stare at a screen and get passed up for promotion year after year. I can’t afford my house anymore, and I just can’t take it anymore.”
    “All right, Carl. So Michelle doesn’t love you anymore. I told you seven years ago that she wasn’t right for you. So you have a shitty job, we all do. So you can’t afford your house, no one can, but dude, don’t throw your life away by killing yourself.” I said as I walked a little closer to him. The crowd below was starting to get bigger.
    “Who is going to sit next to me at Capitol games and buy me beer, Erica? Hell no, YOU are.” I started to sit down along side of Carl. “Who is going to laugh with me at all of those stupid nut-shot videos we email each other? You know damn well no one else does!”
    “Ok, ok. I’m an idiot. Now I’m stuck out here on this ledge and people are expecting me to jump. But I just can’t do it anymore Nate.” Carl started to breathe a little more and his face changed from scared to relaxed. I could tell he was changing his mind.
    “All right, look. Why don’t you get off of this ledge, come back downstairs with me, I’ll call Erica and we can all go out to a nice day-long lunch.”
    “Dude, I’m sorry Nate. I’m sorry about all of this. I’m sorry you had to come up here, but I’m glad you did.” Carl said as he climbed back onto the roof, while the crowd down below cheered like they were at some golf tournament. “I seriously owe you my life. I love you, man.”
    “I love you too, dude. Don’t you ever do anything like that again, because I don’t know if you forgot, but I almost shit myself coming up here.”
    “You got is Nate. Oh, but don’t you already have McDonald’s?” Carl said as we started walking down the stairs.
    “Don’t worry,” I said, as I threw my bag containing my two cheeseburgers over the side of the building, “I’d much rather have you buy me lunch anytime.”

    1. annefreemanimages

      Hi Meldon: Enjoyed your story and the friendship between the two men. I bit long, over 600 words. Maybe you could shorten the first four paragraphs? It’s always difficult. My only comment is that i got lost with the last couple of lines. I’m not sure why the narrator said, “I don’t know if youi forgot” And the line, “You got is Nate.” Maybe they were cut and paste errors? Anyway, a nice story about friendship.

      ~Anne

  22. BlueSin

    There are things we never say until the last moment.
    I watched that moment flash by over my head, as the crowd gathered in quick excited gasps to finish the noise my open mouth had started. “Wait, you’re wrong!” I heard the words echo in pounding resonance as my lips trembled to stillness. I watched him waver on the furthest edge of the rooftop, his clever bright eyes diminished by the distance. “You’re wrong!” I was screaming again, as I spun back from the street towards the offices. The tall quiet building we both told ourselves we worked in, if work was what we’d begun calling something we could never actually do.
    I stumbled onto the rooftop in ragged breaths, meeting his fervent eyes as they detected my approach.
    “Oh,” And the disappointment etched its way into his casual words, “It’s you.”
    “This isn’t repentance.” I managed painfully, his smile so devoid of pleasantry as it found me. “You don’t need to repent for anything. That boy…” That fifteen year old boy. “You can’t do this, not for him.”
    His smile turned taunting, as it fell in beneath his playful eyes. “Blood pays for itself, silly girl.”
    “No one controls death.” I remind him, knowing myself to fall short of persuasions. “Not even…”
    “God?” He asked the question, and my heart sank. I could feel the weight of the wings on my back, in all their white resplendence, intensify until they staggered me; a guilty reminder of my true line of duty beyond the police force.
    There was a quaver in my voice as it tried to comfort him. My presence here, on his rooftop, was my giveaway.
    “So you’re my angel?” He asks me fearlessly. “Huh. I would have thought angels were better people.”
    I have no wall of defense, so I let the assault through with bitter patience.
    “Where were you when he died then?” He passes the question, a rueful expression forming. “I mean here you are, for my death this time around. Aren’t we the hypocrite.”
    Still I have nothing for him.
    “Nice of them, to shoot the boy,“ He said through a short strain of laughter. “Some force we make, hmm? Me, the head of the police department. You, the guardian angel I prayed for just then. And still a young boy’s blood on our hands. Some rescue it turned out to be! The help of earth and the help of heaven…and when they shot, they still shot him!”
    Determination set in his eyes. My true place of employment was somewhere this man was unnecessarily about to find.
    The truth came in one hazarded breath, despite the reams and reams of scriptures that forbid our tongues from so easily delivering such realities.
    This man had misunderstood heaven, as the human will so often chooses to do. “That boy, you think I didn’t save…” I managed to bring forth tentatively, meeting his eyes in frank suddenness when delivering, “He was your angel.”

    1. JR MacBeth

      Awesome first line, and then you kept it up! So good, maybe you should consider a series? You’ve captured a fantastic voice from Beyond, reminiscent of Uncle Screwtape himself, except your character is there to do the dirty work personally. (Diabolical laughs) Nice work!

  23. MCKEVIN

    I headed north toward Sears Towers that day to make sure I wouldn’t see him. I could still see his wife screaming at me “He called your name while making love to me. It felt like acid on my face” She was a train wreck about to happen. Scraggly hair, no makeup, unkempt and weight lost. I was not her problem, Doug was, but she couldn’t hear me through the pain. The lunch crowds on Madison Street, pointed up at what I guessed was an airplane. Flip’s hot dog stand was close by, if I rushed, I could be in and out.
    “Two polishes, everything please.”
    Fat Isaac from work came running up to me out of breath.
    “Tracy come quick, Doug’s on the bank’s roof talking about jumping off.”
    “What! What are you talking about?”
    “I’m telling you, it’s Doug. He’s talking about ending his life. He’ll talk to you since you two are good friends. Is he in trouble or going through something?”
    “What? No Ike. How do I get up there?”
    Ambulances arrived as we maneuvered the crowds. Up the fire escape stairs and my guilt escalated with each step. Doug had an existence not a marriage. She must have threatened to expose us to his kids, his family and management. I prayed for words to say to him. “OH NO!” I hit roof level and found Doug’s half naked wife standing on the ledge. She was shaking, drooling and barely holding a narrow crack on the side of the chimney. Shocked, I couldn’t move. Then, I heard Doug’s voice.
    “Robyn, don’t do this! Please! We’ll work it out.” He was scared shitless.
    “If he was a woman, I could compete and fight for my marriage but everything is a lie.” She was hoarse.
    “No, no don’t say that.”
    “Are you in love with him? That’s all I want to know, tell me.”
    He looked upward for an answer then sensed I was there. Our eyes locked. She didn’t see me when she stepped closer to the edge. The crowd hollered “No!”
    “I, I, Robyn come down. Please! The kids need you.” Doug pleaded.
    “You didn’t answer my question. Now I know!”
    She stared him, staring me and wobbled to the very edge almost losing her balance. There was hush from the crowd.
    “No, no, it’s not like that.”
    “I love you Doug. Please, answer my question!”
    “Robyn please don’t, don’t do this!”
    I too, looked for an answer in his eyes. If he answers truthfully, she’ll jump and if he lies, he knows I’ll leave. No winners here! I got to get out of this. I couldn’t live with myself if she does this to him and their family. She felt no respect, no love, just betrayal. I got to think fast.
    “Our life wasn’t a lie. What about the kids?” Doug begged.
    Both cried but for different reasons. Maybe if I say something, anything.
    “ROBYN!”
    She looked in my direction and…
    “OH MY GOD…”

    1. annefreemanimages

      McKevin: Powerful story. Great ending. You portrayed the desparate wife really well. I like that you used the name Tracy, which could be a man or a woman, and didn’t reveal that his lover was a man until near the end. Tight dialogue. Nice job.
      ~Anne

    2. Ishmael

      Very unique and real-life. A woman on the edge of a situation that, try as she might, cannot fix, short of growing a penis. I totally felt her sense of betrayal and pain – like “acid on my face.” This was really, REALLY good subject matter, told in a suspenseful way. Good choice of names…even Fat Isaac. Sorry it took me so long to get to it!

  24. catbr

    Lunch time was too short. It was June’s favourite part of the day in her dull routine at the office. After working there for almost 25 years she had gotten to know almost everybody in the human resource department. In front of the building where she worked a few people were gathered around looking upwards.

    “Oh my God….it can’t be.” Looking up, June could see at the very top of the 25 story building, standing on the edge of the roof, the young woman who had just started working there a few months earlier. Adrenaline pumped through June’s nervous system and without thinking she ran into the building and hit the elevator button. The elevator was empty so she made to the top floor in a hurry. She raced up the stairs to the roof and immediately saw Angela, standing on the edge.

    “Angela. You really don’t want to do this.” June pleaded as she slowly tried to work her way over to Angela without startling her.

    “Back off. Or I’ll jump now. I don’t have anything to live for.”

    “Please just listen to me. I don’t know you very well but one thing I do know is that you are one of the best workers the department has ever had.”

    “Yeah, I’m sure. Leave me alone. Can’t you see that I don’t want to live anymore.” Angela said with a quivering voice through deep sobs that came from somewhere in the depths of her despair.

    “Do you want to tell me about it. Sometimes just getting things off your chest helps.” There was no reply from Angela. More sobs. June could not handle the pressure. She couldn’t let this person jump. She decided the best thing to do was pray. So she said some quick prayers in desperation and continued to try to talk this her out this insanity.

    “Your family would miss you if anything happened. Whatever troubles your facing could be worked out. Please believe me.” All of a sudden a strong gust of wind blew over the roof top. Angela’s slight frame started swaying. Just as she was about to fall from the roof, June reached over and grabbed the back of Angela’s sweater. But the weight of Angela pulled on June and for a second it seemed as though they were both going to fall to the ground. Somebody with super strength pulled them both back to safety. A man that June had not seen before.

    “You ladies shouldn’t be up here on the roof like this. Are you okay?”

    Making sure Angela was alright and out of harm’s way, June said, “Yes. Things will be okay now. Thankyou for saving us. What’s your name?” She looked around but the mystery man was gone. Looking into Angela’s vacant eyes, June was almost certain that the poor young woman must have had some sort of serious mental breakdown. But now with the proper help Angela would have a fair chance at life. By this time the ambulance workers had arrived to take over.

    June searched the entire top floor but could not find the man who saved their lives. She spoke with the security guard who informed her there was no one working there who fit the description nor had he seen anyone similar that day. Was it her prayers that saved them? She smiled to herself and knew the answer. An angel had been sent to rescue them that day.

  25. wrenbird

    I can’t believe she stood me up. We emailed this morning so I know she came to work today and I even reminded her last night not to wear her signature black pants and white button down so she wouldn’t be mistaken for a waitress again. It was a really busy morning though; I bet she just got pulled into a meeting. Maybe I’ll grab something for her to go.

    Remembering the last time we came here, I order her a Cobb salad and chuckle to myself. She was so embarrassed when that guy asked her for the specials. I don’t think I have ever seen her so red. Once I pay the bill, I head outside and start walking toward the office. It is my favorite type of day; 75 degrees with a little bit of a nip in the shade. These past few weeks have been so hot and uncomfortable that the weather itself puts me in a better mood.

    As I near my office, I notice a crowd of people gathering near the entrance, all staring up my building. I look up, and there she is. No wonder she wasn’t at lunch. And she is wearing her black pants and white button down. I mean, I know the last time was embarrassing but to resort to hurling yourself off the building rather than make up some specials seems a little drastic. Before I can stop it, a loud giggle escapes my mouth and I am greeted by a hoard of glares from a crowd of fifty strangers.

    “Sorry” I say, “I know her. I’ll run up and see if she needs help.” I always laugh at inappropriate times. Like when I was fifteen and laughed at my aunt’s funeral and was asked to leave the church. Or like when I meet someone with a severe stutter without fair warning.

    As I near her office, everyone on our floor is oblivious to what is going on. I knock on her door and let myself in.

    “Hey Amy, what’s going on?” I say when she notices I’m there.

    “Catherine. Hi. I’m um, just testing to see how completely devastated I am.”

    “About? You know we could have just stopped by your place to grab you some different clothes.”

    I watch and wait. Very slowly, I see the corners of her mouth start to twinge and she lets out stifled giggle. In a matter of seconds, she is back in her office and resituating her skirt.

    “Well, it turns out I’m pregnant. I’m pregnant and I have no idea who the father is” she says.

    I know she wouldn’t have really jumped but the fact that she was even considering it makes me weary. “Well, the good news is nobody in the office knows besides me. The other good news is I brought you a Cobb salad.”

    She takes it and grins and even though I know how inappropriate it is, I can’t help myself. “Two birds?” I say.

  26. Writermom46

    “What are you doing up here?” I asked, keeping my voice soft, reassuring and truly curious.
    It startled her and she swayed. Trying to keep her balance she shifted her feet away from the edge.
    “I’m going to jump,” her tone was defensive. “Don’t come any closer.”
    In the twenty-five years I’ve been the only psychologist in Littlefield there have been three attempted jumps off Ray’s Department Store. This would make four. No one really wanted to jump and, from the way she inched closer to the middle of the roof, Sally didn’t want to today.
    “What happened to get you here?” I asked moving slowly toward her, my eyes never leaving hers.
    Sally was the hairdresser in town. She did everyone’s hair. I ran my hand across my military cut thinking I needed a trim. Sarge would have called me a “long haired hippie freak” by now and ordered me to get a haircut.
    “Sally,” I said keeping my voice soft. “Come away from the edge. Whatever’s happened we can figure out what to do about it together.”
    I reached my hand to her and she acted like she wanted to reach back but on second thought she clasped her hands to her chest and shuffled toward the edge.
    “Okay,” I stepped back and folded my arms across my chest. Most of the women in town thought this was my sexiest pose. At least Muriel and Mable did. “Talk to me,” I said.
    Sally bowed her head. “You wouldn’t understand and don’t say, “Try me.” That’s so dumb.”
    “Okay,” I said slightly panicking. This wasn’t going as well as I hoped. I wracked my brain for what to do or say. I sat down cross legged on the roof and tossed random pebbles over the edge.
    “Stop that,” Sally looked at me like I’d lost my mind.
    I looked at her.
    “No.” I said matter-of-factly and kept tossing.
    Shouts of indignation rose from the street below. Sally looked to the street and looked at me.
    “You’re weird,” she said and rushed over to stop me, grabbing the pebbles from my hand. I pulled her down beside me and held her tightly. She squirmed for a moment before collapsing into sobs.

    1. annefreemanimages

      Writermom46: Loved it. You did a beautiful job of creating a narrator I cared about, from the opening question to the “What happened to get you here?” Those two questions made the narrator real to me – and real as a psychologist. His sensitivity and doubts were so nicely potrayed. The ending was perfect. Nice writing – economical, yet descriptive. A great job! You did a fabulous job with only 370 words, and the story felt complete. Can’t wait to read more stories from you.

      ~Anne

  27. lpsmitty

    There was a man on the roof, and I put him there.
    His name was Jacob. He worked in my department. He had slick black hair, too black for his age. He talked a lot about fishing on his breaks, had a wife and one kid in college. He was the kind of guy who gave firm handshakes. That’s what came to mind as I saw him pacing tentatively on the edge of the building.
    “Hey, Larry! Look!” cried a colleague of mine, yanking on my sleeve. I didn’t answer him. I was already looking. My feet grew numb from my locked knees. I didn’t dare tell him how I put Jacob on that ledge. How that morning, after he had been late one too many times, I told him that we didn’t need him in the office anymore. I didn’t mention how he pleaded for another shot which I refused him. I didn’t tell about how he looked downtrodden as he emptied his drawers. I put him on that roof.
    I forced myself to walk, to push past the people in the growing crowd. I told my mind to make my feet move faster. Get to the roof, I ordered. I took the stairs to get there faster. I leapt up two steps at a time. I thanked God for my cardio workouts and their proven worth at the moment. I got to the door leading to the roof and stopped dead. I looked at the knob and thought about what I was doing, what I was about to do. Then, I told myself to stop thinking, and opened the door.
    The wind caught me as I stepped outside. There was about a hundred feet between myself and Jacob and I didn’t want to startle him. I called his name and saw his body stiffen. He was on the ledge, nothing holding him except the strength of his will.
    “Leave me alone!” he shouted back. “You’ve done enough!”
    I approached him slowly and waited until I was within ten feet of him to speak.
    “Don’t do this.”
    “This is your fault! Without that job I don’t have anything! Do you even understand that?” His screams were clear at this distance though the wind howled around us. I took my chances and stepped closer and was relieved when he didn’t object.
    “Think about your family. Your wife. Your son. This is no way for them to remember you.” I extended my hand to him, my last chance to make a difference.
    I think we were both surprised that he took it. I could feel his warmth and thought for a second that it would be okay. His eyes looked into mine and I told him that we could work something out, and everything would be alright. I meant every word of it.
    I didn’t notice his feet kick. I was too slow to react as he fell backwards. He still gave firm handshakes.

      1. MCKEVIN

        I liked it and would have never approached it from that angle. I didn’t think I could. But, I was right there on the ledge with you two and that means it was a good story. I’ll be watching you for more.

  28. Scott B.

    Hours later I’m still sitting against stairwell door. I can’t bring myself to head home – not just yet. I just keep staring at the spot where Stan had been sitting. The ledge. It was fifteen stories down for Christ’s sake. I get nauseous just thinking about it and look away trying to breath through pursed lips, but it’s not helping. Jesus Stan, when did things get this bad? I thought we were closer; that I was someone you could talk with.

    * * *

    I was returning from lunch when I saw the crowd start to gather. They were pointing, one woman even taking video on her phone. I saw that it was a person on the ledge of the building across from my own. I asked if anyone had called 9-1-1 and saw my secretary on the outer edge of the mob holding her head, sobbing.

    I took her arm and started to pull her away from the commotion, “Don’t look at this Marcy, let’s go around the corner ‘til they get him down.” She twisted her arm from my grip.

    “Oh, thank God Peter. You have to do something, it’s Stan…from Accounting. He got so upset at Mr. Morgan before lunch and stormed out. I didn’t know he was going to kill himself!” I led her to the curb, sat her down, and dashed off toward the lobby of the neighboring building.

    The elevators were being called down and held for the fire department, but I couldn’t even hear sirens yet. With little time to spare I ran toward the stairs. By the time I got to the ninth floor I was winded to say the least.

    When I finally reached the door to the roof I stopped to catch my breath. That’s when I noticed the tingling in my left arm. I popped the door to see Stan sitting on the edge, contemplating the worst.

    “Don’t come near me. Don’t you take another fuckin’ step!” His head zipped between me and the sidewalk below. He was sweating profusely. We both were. “Pete? What are you doing here?”

    “Trying…to stop…you from…”

    The next thing I remember was Stan giving me mouth-to-mouth and a police officer on his radio telling paramedics to come up for a working code. The officer started chest compressions on me until the fire department took over.

    * * *

    Stan was taken off the roof by the police to get some help by that cop. The medics spent another ten minutes trying to revive my body, but pronounced me dead at the scene. I’ve just been sitting here ever since staring at that ledge. Maybe I should head home after all.

    1. annefreemanimages

      Very good story – great ending. Not at all what I expected. My only comment was the line “By the time I got to the ninth floor I was winded to say the least.” I would suggest to get rid of “to say the least.” It took me out of the moment. Other than that, very well done.

      ~Anne

    2. Ishmael

      This was very good! I like the POV coming from Pete, who we find out later is telling the events post-mortem. I like that a lot…”I’ve just been sitting here ever since…” Even though he thinks about heading home, it makes me wonder if he can, or will he forever be on top of the roof. Great job at keeping the tension high, and wonderful details (woman taking video). Thanks.

  29. theano7203@gmail.com

    The morning fog had cleared until only wisps of it held on in low places between the buildings. For June the morning was unusually cool and crisp. I decided to walk down to the local StarBucks rather than drive. Skyscrapers rose upward toward the morning sun dominating the landscape with their modernism. A crowd was gathered next to one.
    As I approached I heard, “Is he going to jump.”
    “Somebody call the police.”
    I thought of all the skyscrapers the poor sap picked the shortest one. Out of morbid human fascination I decided to look up to see who the jumper was. Instead of being some stranger it was my co-worker Randy. Emotional shock set in at the realization that it was someone I know. Then it occurred to me I hate funerals—really hate funerals. How dare Randy put me through this?
    No longer wishing to be a spectator of eminent death I rushed into the building found the elevator and took it to the roof. Down a hallway and around a corner I found the stairs to the roof. Opening door at the stairway there Randy was perched on the ledge muttering some last confession to God so I suppose.
    Angry at that thought that I would have to buy a suit and attend a funeral I let out a primordial scream, “Randy what the hell are you doing? Ya tryin’ to learn how to fly?”
    The squall startled him into nearly tumbling over, but he recovered quickly and that told me the son of a bitch was crying out for help and really did not wish to die.Rushing over before Randy could speak I got within five feet of him before he did the usual –don’t come near me. Pissed me off. If you are going to jump, just do it.
    “You son of a bitch I am near you. I hate, hate funerals so get down from their right now!”
    “My wife left me,” he moaned.
    “Oh hell, Randy that ain’t worth jumpin’ for –Here I will take you to StarBucks and then let’s go to the bar and we will find someone to make you forget about her. The money parts we will deal with later, but don’t make me go to a damn funeral or I will have to kill you. I hate funerals.” I explained forcefully.
    “I don’t know. I don’t think I can handle the crap you know.”
    “You can handle the crap, Randy. I help you shovel it up by the bucketfuls, but don’t make me go to a funeral!” I screamed.
    “Oh hell. It took me half the night and a bottle of Jack Daniels to get up here,” said Randy.
    “I will buy you two bottles of Jack Daniels. Make you drink them and dream about jumping. Come on. I want a StarBucks, and then we will take care of you. Come on,” I demanded.
    “Okay.”
    In seconds Randy climbed down and off to StarBucks we went.

    1. annefreemanimages

      theano7203@gmail.com:” The ending of this story cracked me up. “OK.” That was great. No huge summation, just a simple, OK.

      I enjoyed the dialogue, too. Nice opening line.

      My only suggestion is that the narrator come up with some other thing he hates besides funerals. By the third time I head that line, I didn’t want to hear it. That was just my reaction.

      Nice job.

      ~Anne

  30. massagemom84

    I walk up the stairs as fast as my arthritic knees will allow me. I avoid the elevator at all costs knowing it is plagued with more health issues than I have. I reach the roof access in my opinion rather quickly, and step out the graveled floor of the roof crunching underneath my shoes.
    “Hey, you need to get down off the ledge. It is not your time.”
    The emanate jumper turns around quickly, with a shocked expression on his face.
    “Leave me alone; man you are not going to talk me out of this.” His shoulders sag, making him look older than the twenty something kids he is.
    “I don’t have to talk you out of it; I am just telling you how silly you are going to feel standing up there for no reason.”
    “What is that supposed to mean? I’m going to jump.”
    “It is not your time yet.”
    “What the hell is that supposed to mean, and who the fuck are you to say it is not my time?” He shouts turning toward me more his face red with anger. A flicker of confusion and then recognition skips over his face.
    “Aren’t you that guy at the coffee shop yesterday? You were there helping that old lady when she passed away.” He says with a hint of uncertainty.
    “The one and only, now are you going to get down or stand there looking stupid all day.”
    “How do you know it is not my time?” sarcasm dripping off of every word
    “Let’s just say I have the ability to know when time is up for people.” With this I a rewarded a small chuckle.
    “So does this have any benefits, a retirement package 401k?” a small smile playing around his lips, and his shoulders visibly relax.
    “I get to meet interesting people like you, now come on I will buy you a cup of coffee.” I stretch out my hand, and after a moment of deliberation he finally takes it.
    We step into the elevator, and it begins its slow pace to the bottom floor. It groans then comes to a shuddering stop. The kid looks around panicked.
    “What the hell?” He says banging his hands on the buttons, his eyes wide with fear.
    “What are we going to do?” He starts shouting, although nobody can hear us.
    “It’s ok kid I am sure someone will be here to help in a minute.” I say while I laboriously get to the floor.
    “No, you don’t understand I am claustrophobic.” His voice is rising to a hysterical state, as he continues his banging, adding jumping to dance of fear he is preforming in front of me.
    All of a sudden the elevator starts to make a whining sound, and there is a loud crack as the cable breaks and we plummet to the floor.
    As I lift his soul out of his broken body, I can’t help but smile at him as I add
    “I told you it wasn’t your time.”

  31. unburdened

    “Jonah,” I said out the open window. “What are you doing?”

    I heard a strangled laugh. “What does it look like I’m doing?” said Jonah.

    I leaned my head out and looked at him. He was standing on the foot-wide ledge three feet to the left of the window. No way to reach out and grab him.

    His eyes were squeezed shut and there were dirty tear streaks down his face. He was pressed flat against the concrete wall.

    “It looks to me like you’ve put yourself in a pretty precarious position, Jonah,” I said. “Do you want to tell me about it?” Maybe I can distract him just by getting him talking.

    “Not really,” he said. “It’s not like anyone really gives a shit what happens to me. I’m just some fat, lonely fuck that works in a cubicle at the end of the hall.”

    I suddenly felt weary down to my bones. “You heard that?” I said. Crap. He must have been in the bathroom when Adams came into my office and heard us talking on the way back to his desk. I leaned my forearms on the window and hung my head.

    “Yeah, I heard that,” he said bitterly. Then after a few moments, “Don’t worry about it, what you said is true. I’m not worth the air I breathe. No girl will ever love me. The world will be better off without me.”

    Jesus Christ. I mentally rolled my eyes. What a cliché. This would be funny if it weren’t for real.

    Automatically I said, “Jonah, that’s not true. You’re a big help here at work. I’m sure there’s lots of people who care about you. Why don’t you just come inside, and we’ll grab a cup of coffee and talk about it.”

    Jonah opened his eyes and turned his head slightly to look at me. “Seriously?” he said. “I’m standing on a ledge twenty stories in the air, and that’s the best you can come up with? You really are a jackass.”

    I felt a flash of anger. Yeah, well you’re the dickhead without a job anymore.

    Suddenly a hollow opened up in the pit of my stomach. I should be the one out on the ledge. The funny thing is, I actually like Jonah. Sure, he’s a slovenly nerd who is mediocre at his job and plays video games all night long. But he always reminds me when it’s someone’s birthday, he’s the only one who reloads the copier paper and the water cooler bottles when they’re empty, and when he’s not making nerd jokes he’s got a wicked sense of humor.

    I met his gaze. “Jonah,” I said. “You’re fired.”

    His mouth dropped open slightly. He stared. Then he closed his mouth and swallowed. He looked down at the ground far below.

    Uh oh. Here it comes. I looked down too. The local news van was just pulling into the parking lot.

    “Shit,” he said. “I thought I was having a bad day. It must really suck to have to fire your friends.”

    I snorted. “Yeah Jonah, it does.” It really, really does.

    A pause. “Okay then,” he said. “We’d better have that cup of coffee.”

  32. lpsmitty

    There was a man on the roof, and I put him there.
    His name was Jacob. He worked in Human Resources. He had slick black hair, far too black for his age, and bad skin. He talked a lot about fishing on his breaks, had a wife and one kid in college. He was the kind of guy who gave firm handshakes. That’s what came to mind as I saw him pacing tentatively on the edge of the building.
    “Hey, Larry! Look!” cried a colleague of mine, yanking on my sleeve. I didn’t answer him. I was already looking. My feet grew numb from my locked knees. I didn’t dare tell him how I put Jacob on that ledge. How that morning, after he had been late one too many times, I told him that we didn’t need him in the office anymore. I didn’t mention how he pleaded for another shot which I refused him. I didn’t tell about how he looked downtrodden as he emptied his drawers. I put him on that roof.
    I forced myself to walk, to push past the people in the growing crowd. I told my mind to make my feet move faster. Get to the roof, I ordered. I took the stairs to get there faster. I leapt up two steps at a time. I thanked God for my cardio workouts and their proven worth at the moment. I got to the door leading to the roof and stopped dead. I looked at the knob and thought about what I was doing, what I was about to do. Then, I told myself to stop thinking, and opened the door.
    The wind caught me as I stepped outside. There was about a hundred feet between myself and Jacob and I didn’t want to startle him. I called his name and saw his body stiffen. He was on the ledge, nothing holding him except the strength of his will.
    “Leave me alone!” he shouted back. “You’ve done enough!”
    I approached him slowly and waited until I was within ten feet of him to speak.
    “Don’t do this.”
    “This is your fault! Without that job I don’t have anything! Do you even understand that?” His screams were clear at this distance though the wind howled around us. I took my chances and stepped closer and was relieved when he didn’t object.
    “Think about your family. Your wife. Your son. This is no way for them to remember you.” I extended my hand to him, my last chance to make a difference.
    I think we were both surprised that he took it. I could feel his warmth and thought for a second that it would be okay. His eyes looked into mine and I told him that we could work something out, and everything would be alright. I meant every word of it.
    I didn’t notice his feet kick. I was too slow to react as he fell backwards. He still gave firm handshakes.

    1. annefreemanimages

      lpsmitty: Great job! Loved the economic writing. I could see Jacob clearly in the first paragraph. You kept the story moving forward, the pace and action. The dialogue felt real.

      One question – the last sentence – did you mean that Jacob pulled his boss off the roof with him? I just wasn’t sure.

      Nicely done!

      ~Anne

  33. aikawah

    The kid is talking about his dream, the one he has every night. He’s standing high up in the sky, looking down on everyone else. Then he starts to fly, but his sister appears from nowhere and pushes him towards the ground. Then he’s falling, falling, then everything goes dark. Then all he sees is angels, red like blood. “The man in the white coat will come. He’s the only one who can save me.” He’s drawing; the same picture as always. A symmetrical ink-blot thing a bit like Roscharch’s first card, but with the edges rounded out. If I was a shrink perhaps I would understand. “Where did you see that picture?” I venture, as I have so many times before. I know he won’t answer.

    He gets up from his chair, preoccupied. Nobody really knows his name. All they remember is that when he got off the bus from Naivasha with other refugees of tribal violence after the elections, he was carrying a baby’s corpse. He’d walked up to the nearest cop and requested politely to be shown where to bury it. His sister, he’d explained. He goes to the window of the laboratory, two stories above the sprawling mess of tents behind the hospital. I know where he lives in the makeshift camp; on the outer edges with about a dozen other neglected orphans. He looks there now, silent.

    I make a point of buying him some food every time he comes. The Red Cross feeds them exclusively on Plumpy Nut. I’d hate to have to eat that gunk three times a day. “I’m going to buy some food, what would you like?” I ask. “Chips!” The excitement in his eyes is a pleasure to behold. It’s the only reason I ever ask him what he wants; the answer is always chips. I close the door behind me and head for the nurses canteen. *** I’m on the way back from the canteen when I run into the crowd. They are looking up at the hospital block then down at something, or someone. The laboratory window’s been pried open just enough for someone the kid’s size to squeeze out. I push through the crowd to find the kid lying on the pavement. A pool of blood has spread out from his head, staining the concrete. The wing-like pattern is familiar; kind of like Roscharch’s first card. It’s the dream. I scream. A man is suddenly next to me. Helping me pick up the broken kid; carry him through the swelling crowd. The man is speaking to me, snatches of accented English wafting through spasms of my shock:

    “Did you know him?”

    Hands reach into my pockets, I lose the chips,

    “…volunteer psychiatrist from Denmark…”

    We’re away from the crowd now, hurrying towards the Red Cross tent. We’re swarmed by volunteers, the kid snatched from my arms. I struggle, watch them disappear into the big tent through a haze of stinging tears. The man pauses at the tent flap, turns to look at me. Then he’s gone, white coat and all.

    1. Ishmael

      Good story and wonderful premise. I enjoyed the foreboding dream take on this. A lot of use of the word “then” at the beginning made me uncomfortable…interrupted the flow for me. I’d take them ALL out, and even reword the fourth sentence, making it even a little more poetic than you have.

      ‘He’s falling, falling, falling…everything goes black. Angels, covered with blood, emerge from the darkness.’ Something like that. The repetitive use of “then” is distracting when used so close together.

      But of course, as always, you effectively carried the story from beginning to a logical, and well-wrapped, ending. :)

      1. rob akers

        Ishmael is right about the begining. It could be cleaned up some.

        He is also right about you being able to craft a story from beginning to end with a logial ending.

        He did not say it but I will. YOU ARE AN AMAZING WRITER!!!! This is a great story. You have a ability to pull me from my overly comfortable life in the states and drop me into a world that I have no connection. I finished the story in tears for the little boy and his sister. This is the only story I have read so far that I felt for the character.

        You have added to my must reads every week. I am very impressed and love your perspective.

        I wish I had a drop of your talent. Great Job, sir!

        1. aikawah

          Thanks for the correction guys, the repetition of ‘then’ does interfere with the flow at the beginning. The advice is what makes these prompts so cool to participate in. I’m glad you both enjoyed it though.

    2. JR MacBeth

      A creative take on the prompt, that’s for sure! Enjoyable, leaving more questions than answers, but still tied up in a neat 500 word bow. No doubt this could be the kernel of a full-blown story. For fun, I like to sometimes take a story like this, and fill in my own blanks, your story being the “prompt” in this case.
      Obviously, your “inside story” could go a thousand different ways, but what immediately hit my imagination went something like this: The boy was in fact clairvoyant, but perhaps he wasn’t the only one, which might explain the laboratory, they are all being studied, which explains the subtle nuance of the psychiatrist being there, instead of just a regular doctor, which might be expected ordinarily. Some foreboding might have come out of that very interesting final line of paragraph two, “He looks there now, silent.” As if he knows something is going to happen to the other orphans.
      So many possibilities with this inspiring bit of writing. Great job!

  34. kparker9

    Bronson and Glenn sprinted down the pavement. Their heavy leather boots pounded the concrete, as they weaved through the afternoon crowds with reckless caution. Their pants of fatigue were broken every so-often, only by swift calls of “Move!” The urgency of the two hulking figures startled onlookers; even for the hustle and bustle of peak New York City lunch hour, they were attracting unwelcomed attention.
    The crackled static echoed through Bronson’s earpiece. “Officers Bronson and Glenn, suspect last seen at Plaza Tower on 4th.”
    “Copy,” shouted Bronson, motioning to Glenn as they swiftly took a turn down a back alleyway, leading them out into the concrete fortress of a busy office complex. A crowd of bystanders signalled they had reached Plaza Tower.
    “Oh my god!” screamed a woman, as worried murmurs created a concerning aura around the crowd, who all pointed to the top of the enormous skyscraper.
    “Bingo,” Glenn quipped to his partner, as they slammed through the fire escape door and sprinted up the flight of stairs.
    * * *
    Teddy paced back and forth, trying to replay the day’s events in his head. It had all been such a rush. Just like every day for the past 8 months, he thought. His habit had fuelled his actions today, as it did the day before, but now he was finally coming to terms with that he had actually done. He was coming down from the high.
    He glanced down at the woman, who was sitting against the ledge. Her angst and fright painted her face a worryingly pale, as she returned his glance briefly, her eyes darting away instantaneously with fear. Teddy contemplated her for a moment, before throwing a carless sneaker into her side. The woman fell to the ground wincing in pain, her screams muffled by the duct tape smeared on her face. Teddy reached cumbersomely into his jacket pocket, reaching for the revolver.
    Sergeants Bronson and Glenn burst through the fire door, pistols aimed.
    “Freeze! Don’t touch her!”
    Teddy whipped around, aiming his revolver in their direction. The silence was haunting. A cold chill caressed the three men in the form of a breeze; the wind reminding them that they were alive, relieving them of the numbness triggered by adrenaline.
    “You don’t want to do this,” Glenn told Teddy, a stern sturdiness in his voice. Teddy’s eyes darted between the two officers. Both Bronson and Glenn kept their eyes focused on the man.
    “How would you know what I want?” Teddy returned, putting on a false bravado. Courageous in his eyes. Foolish to the officers.
    The men slowly shuffled towards Teddy, keeping their eyes locked on him. The distraught woman on the ground screamed, a plea for freedom of the binds that chaffed her wrist.
    Teddy snapped around, pointing his gun at her. “Shut up!” he cried, cocking his gun.
    The echoes of the gunshots rang out through the city, bringing the usually dynamic metropolis to an eerie halt. The crowd below was deafeningly silent as Teddy’s body tumbled over the edge of the skyscraper to his peril.

    1. annefreemanimages

      kparker9: Enjoyed the action scenes in this story. I was a bit confused by Teddy – was he a drug addict? I needed a bit more information for his character. You portrayed the woman well. All of the scenes were vivid. That last line: I don’t think you needed to say “to his peril.” that kind of flattened the punch. He just needed to tumbole over the edge of the skyscraper – period.

      Nice job!

      ~Anne

  35. mwhite1212

    I could tell that Jimmy had been smoking again.
    Walking through the neighborhood on my way to the soup kitchen, I ran into a crowd of people in front of a building down the street from mine. The first thing I thought was that the soup kitchen was only serving for about another fifteen minutes and I was twelve minutes out and these people were in my way. I hadn’t eaten since the noon the day before, and it felt like the hunger was eating a hole through my stomach. Then I realized I was in front of Jimmy’s building and I looked up to where everyone was pointing. Sure enough, Jimmy was on the ledge in front his apartment window, cowered against the wall and mumbling to himself.
    Part of me wanted him to slip.
    I pushed my way through the onlookers and went inside while they stood there outwardly expressing their concern, inwardly hoping he jumped so they could be a witness and maybe be interviewed for the five o’clock news and have a new story to tell their friends. Not wanting to wait for the elevator, I took the stairs up to the fourth floor and walked down the hall to Jimmy’s door. Surprisingly, the door was unlocked, so I let myself in. His apartment smelled like stale sweat and overflowing ashtrays. A thin cloud hung in the air adding a sickly sweet smell. I was right, Jimmy had been smokin’ again. His arm was inside the window clinging to the wall, the rest of his body outside on the ledge.
    “Jimmy! Get your ass in here!” I yelled at his arm. He raised his head and looked at me with a surprised look on his face.
    “How did you get in here?”
    “Never mind that you fuckin’ idiot. You know the cops are gonna be here any minute right? I can’t believe your doin’ this shit again.”
    He looked even more surprised and said, “Why are the cops gonna be here? I didn’t do nothin’ wrong, man.”
    “Are you serious? Get your ass in here.”
    “I don’t want to be in there if that’s where the cops are gonna be, man.”
    “You don’t have a choice, Jimmy. You are on the ledge of your apartment building in front of your window and there is a crowd of people staring up at you.”
    “Oh shit man, I didn’t even see them.”
    He hurried through the window and started shoving drugs and paraphernalia into his pockets. “Never mind the rest of that shit. We gotta go.”
    We walked down the stairs on the other side of the building and out onto the street. We walked for a couple blocks, turned down an alley and I stopped Jimmy.
    “Let me see what you got in your pockets.”
    He pulled out a couple bags of powder, three rocks and a pipe.
    “I’m taking these Jimmy, for payment of saving your dumbass life. Now get the fuck outta here.”
    Jimmy knew what was good for him, so he walked out of the alley and turned in the direction we had been headed.

  36. mwahl

    “ – there’s someone up there – ”

    “ – oh, please, no – ”

    “ – he’s going to jump!”

    My breath caught in my throat as I realized who the crowd was talking about. I could recognize his Yankees baseball cap, ocean blue eyes and unshaven beard with my eyes closed.

    Jonathan. The copywriter. And my ex-boyfriend.

    But – no, how could that be him? Jonathan wouldn’t be standing at the edge of a building, for god’s sake, about to jump to his death.

    Though I could try and deny it all day, I knew it was him. My heart sank. There was only one word racing through my mind: Why?

    Without thinking, I bolted toward the small advertising office and raced up the stairs, suddenly glad I wore ballet flats instead of heels.

    The small office was empty as everyone was off celebrating some assistant’s birthday. That’s where I’d be, now, actually, if I wasn’t here, at the top of the roof, trying to convince my ex-boyfriend not to kill himself.

    “Jonathan,” I said. My throat burned.

    His back was toward me. Maybe he didn’t hear me?

    “Jonathan,” I said again, walking closer, still not believing that the man before me was the same person who played chess on weekends, coached a youth basketball team, and dated me for eight years of my life.

    “Why does no one love me anymore.” He said it as a statement, not a question. I stopped. The car horns and crowd below seemed far away, like another world.

    A knife seemed to pierce my heart. Not love him? I will always love him, just not in the way he wants. He wants marriage, I don’t. He likes cities, I prefer suburban. He wants a child, I aborted one.

    “Jonathan, I’m so sorry. I miss you, why are you doing this?” The words blurted out before I could stop them.

    He turned around then, his eyes distant. “She doesn’t love me anymore.”

    She? Was he seeing someone? We broke up a year ago and I thought we were still best friends. Well, as close as you can get to someone without knowing they’re about to die.

    He continued, looking away, talking more so to himself than to me, “I have everything except her love. I’ve tried for years. What else can I give, Charlotte?”

    That’s not my name.

    Years. Charlotte. Love. The words joined the club in bouncing around my skull, and then everything stopped.

    All these years, he cheated on me. That girl from the market. His “cousin”. Everything crumbled around me and I fell to the ground. There was something shiny –

    A ring. But then –

    It wasn’t about me. It was never about me. There wasn’t time to stop him.

    He jumped.

    _

    He was paralyzed waist down. She broke up with him at the hospital when he regained consciousness.

    I cared for him, fed him, washed him, and took him back.

    We’re set to get married next week.

    1. Ishmael

      Good story, mwahl. Great dialogue, control of the language, setting, flow, and take on the prompt. I didn’t like the end, though. It seemed like she compromised her integrity. Yeah, perhaps she loved him, but he evidently didn’t love her…cheating on her with Charlotte, who, when he needed her, didn’t want to be with a paraplegic. The last line, which normally would be a “happy ending” type of closing, left an image in my mind of a marriage that will be full of resentments. A happier resolve for me would have been:

      ‘It wasn’t about me. It was never about me. I reached out my hand of salvation…and pushed him.’

      Then again, no one screws around on me! :) Excellent read, though.

    2. MCKEVIN

      Good story and I like your style. I would have never taken him back but I didn’t write the story did I? I guess I’m going to have to follow your stories too because I like it when a story pisses me off. Good job!

  37. KaleeMichelle

    Jonathan wasn’t someone I talked to regularly, he was just an oh-hey-we-get-water-at-the-same-place-let’s-talk-about-mutural-things-that-go-on-in-the-office kind of friend. I wouldn’t call him memorable, to be completely honest. Just someone who took up space, like paintings that clearly don’t go with a room. We all had those paintings of cabins in our houses when we were children. Whose cabins where they? Why where they now in my home? No one knew, no one asked, they were just there.
    However, when I saw Jonathan up upon that building… He suddenly became more than a all flower to me, he became an opprotunity. I know, that sounds terribly selfish but… I saw my brother again. Not on a building, but laying there in the bath tub. Swimming trunks on, more blood than water, note on the sink. All I could think was, I should’ve been there. If I didn’t have detention that one day I could of saved him.. I could’ve saved him. Now, standing here looking up at Jonathan Murray I saw that missed oprotunity. I saw my brother telling me it wa never my fault. All these years I’ve regretted that one day, my brother was giving me the chance to fix. I ran up to the top of the building.
    “Jonathan!” I called.
    He turned to face me, eyes squinting due to the afternoon sun. “Mary?”, he called.
    “Yes, Jonathan!” I reassured him, “It’s Mary, from the water fountain!”
    He stepped towards me, warrily. “Mary I-I…”
    I ran to him. I wrapped my arms around him. I wrapped my arms around my brother, one last time, “I’m so sorry I didn’t see this comming.. I’m so sorry.”

  38. annefreemanimages

    “Crumble”
    A Rett Bonneville Short Story
    By Anne M. Freeman

    Leyland clung to the outer stone frame of the top floor window, literally clinging to his life.

    “Leyland! Don’t do it,” I said evenly, trying to calm the trembling in my throat. “It’s not worth dying over. Please, Leyland, come back inside.”

    “In” was the reception room of my record label. I’d come by to see the Conner, the A&R man about booking some studio time, and had just climbed out of the taxi when I saw the crowd in front of the old Philadelphia building near the top of Broad Street where my label had its office. Looking up I saw Leyland, one of my label-mates, standing on the ledge of the reception window.

    “Leyland, the sill could crumble. It’s old. Please come back in,” I said, carefully sticking my head out of the window alongside him, looking up at his haggard face.

    “It’s no use,” he said, his voice strangling. “The bastards already killed me. They canceled my contract.”

    “Yes, they’re bastards,” I said, “but no, you’re not dead, Leyland! You don’t need the label to record a CD. There are plenty of studios in the city. You have your fans. You can do this!” My throat started tightening and my neck ached.

    Leyland looked down and then threw his head back, squeezing his eyes shut. My heart nearly seized.

    “Where is Conner?” I yelled inside to Tori, the sobbing receptionist.

    “He’s on the phone in his office, talking to the police,” she cried.

    A siren wailed.

    I turned back to Leyland.

    “Leyland, I’m going back in and then I’m going to put my hand out through the window. I want you to take hold of it and climb back into the office.”

    I ducked back into the room and slowly stretched my arm out to him. The wind twirled around us.

    “It’s not use, Rett. I’m done. There’s nothing left.”

    “You are left, Leyland! A record deal is not all there is to your life! You have your music, your artistry, your fans. And you have friends and family. This is just a business – that’s all it is. It’s not who you are, Leyland!”

    But I was lying. Like so many artists, Leyland lived an ego-hungry life stoked by record deals, concerts, radio play and fans – a state of being as precarious as that crumbling windowsill. Now the very same record machine that had pumped him up for so long had suddenly chewed him up and spit him out.

    “Leyland? Leyland, talk to me, please!”

    The cold wind blew over my face.

    “Leyland, take my hand!” I demanded.

    He jumped.

    Several screams welled up from below. I turned and ran, grabbed Tori and pushed her out the door into the building’s inner hallway so we wouldn’t have to hear the thud for the rest of our lives.
    ###

    1. Ishmael

      Anne, this read like a welcome sea breeze on a hot August day, flowing through my mind and refreshing a tired brain back to life. Good slant with the entertainment industry. Wonderful dialogue…I felt it happening before my very eyes.

      I have an autographed copy of Leyland’s latest release…should be worth a lot, now. :)

        1. Ishmael

          You’re welcome…’twas a privilege to read.

          Quick, non-topic question: how did you post your avatar? I can’t find it anywhere in my profile. I was able to do it in the forum, but not over here.

          Thanks!

    2. jincomt

      I liked the entertainment context as well. You are very good at creating the scene so the reader sees it. You told the story without trying to include too much. As usual, well done.

      1. annefreemanimages

        Thanks, Jincomt. A lot of years of songwriting lessons: show, don’t tell! Have helped me in this endeavor. I must confess that the 500 words (of course, I usually go over a little) has helped tremendously in forcing me to choose carefully which details to keep (that enhance the story) and which are filler. Looking forward to reading yours, and thanks for commenting.

        ~Anne

    3. Icabu

      Great story, Anne. The dialogue between Rett and Leyland was tense and emotional.
      I liked the ending paragraph – says a lot about Rett’s character.

  39. rob akers

    A Bill Rimes Story

    21 Dec 2012

    Bill looked at the clock, it flashed 2:05. Laying his head back on the pillow he heard the banging on the door followed by the doorbell. His mind registered the dogs barking and now he knew why he was awake. His knees popping while he grumbled, he slowly ambled down the stairs. Opening the door, he shielded his eyes from the sunlight.

    “Bill, the chief needs you. Get dressed and pack a bag. You might be gone for a while.” Bill was too groggy to argue with the Huntington WV police officer named Tracy Thompson who was also a Loadmaster in Bill’s squadron.

    Five minutes later, Bill reappeared at the door dressed in blue slacks, an un-tucked red Polo shirt and his prized brown Italian shoes that were purchased years earlier in Rome. He grabbed his long wool overcoat and followed Tracy to the Ford Cruiser.

    “Tracy, what is going on?”

    “Don’t know, Boss. The Chief ordered me to bring you to the park.” He calmly spoke, as the cruiser accelerated complete with the full light and sound show.

    Skidding to a stop in the park both men ran towards the throng of police. Former unit Navigator and current Police Chief Broylls, better known as Bubbles greeted the two men.

    “Bill, thanks for coming so fast.”

    “What is going on Chief?”

    “It is, JoJo. He climbed to the top of the Veterans Arch and he is threatening to jump. Says he wants to talk to you. I don’t have to arrest him yet, but my time is getting short.”

    “Okay.” Bill walked past the police tape and towards the Arch.

    “Chicken Bill! Up here.” JoJo waved.

    “DO YOU HAVE YOUR PHONE ON YOU?” Bill yelled.

    “Yea, why?”

    30 seconds later, JoJo’s phone played Iron Maiden song, Aces High. “William, what’s up my brother from another mother?”

    “Wondering the same thing about you.”

    “I’m great Billy, I got some drink.” Raising an almost empty mason jar. “I got my tunes.” He held up his IPOD, “and I am waiting on the end of the world.”

    “What are you talking about?”

    “Dude, it’s December 21st. Its the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine…..I thought I would get a good place to watch the show. Want a drink?”

    Bill had just returned from an around the world trip on his FedEx MD-11. His body screamed at him because of the jet lag, lack of sleep, and bitter cold air. JoJo was Bill’s co-pilot on the last rotation to Afghanistan. Jojo had earned a reputation as a wild eyed country boy who knew no fear in the face of enemy fire or anything else in the world.

    “I would like a drink.”

    “Make it happen Captain!”

    “How about you bring it to me.”

    “Okay,” JoJo hopped up and walked to the edge of the monument. Rappelling down a rope he fell into the waiting arms of the Huntington WV Police.

    Bill turned and walked back to the Chief. “Are you going to take care of him?”

    “Of course, I won’t let my second favorite pilot get in trouble.”

    1. annefreemanimages

      Rob – Enjoyed the dialogue between grimes and JoJo. JoJo’s bantering was funny and lighthearted, which created a nice contrast fromn the apparent seriousness of the situation. Very funny scene with JoJo rappelling down the monument. I wouldn’t have thought of that! Fun song references, too. I can just see the Captiain being discusted, and wanting nothing more than to get back into bed. Fun read!

      ~Anne

    2. Ishmael

      Rob, this is the best I’ve read from you so far. GREAT flow, smooth transitions between paragraphs and thoughts. Wonderful descriptions. This was seriously MOST EXCELLENT!

      Reiterating: The best Capt. Bill Rimes offering to date. :)

    3. jincomt

      Rob, for some reason this might be my favorite bill rimes story yet. Somehow you managed to create the story (with fantastic and lively dialogue), create the characters, keep the reader engaged (concerned for jojo and amused at the same time, no less) AND stick with the propmpt. Great read! Loved the repelling af the end and use of a cell phone too.

  40. penney

    “Sometimes I get so caught up in the crap of the day that seriously I wonder if it would be better to just end it all. Just quit right now. I get yelled at for the most stupid shit. Of all people my husband knows how to psychologically manipulate me. He loves to play what I call the volume game. You know argue a point, make you feel like nothing you say is right so he can repeat himself louder and louder. It makes me feel like a pile of elephant shit. I clam up and wish I could die. Your wrong Kate, your not listening Kate, your elephant shit Kate!” Kate and her friend from work sat on the 108th floor ledge of Hell Raisers Inc., two sets of feet swinging in rhythm over midair.

    “Why don’t you,” her friend asked? “I just don’t know if I can hold out myself much longer, it’s just so hopeless,” she continued.

    “Well for one, this moment right here. I was walking along down there, minding my own business, when something very random told me to look up. To really pay attention and look up,” Kate continued. “Do you realize you are sitting on the 108th floor ledge? I looked up for a few seconds just wondering why and I saw your little legs swinging. That same random something said to go see,” she paused for a second. “I don’t kill myself because of today.”

    “But, why do you care,” her friend asked again?

    “Fear, hope, and faith,” Kate responded.

    Kate spent the next couple of hours talking to her friend. She told of continued test in faith by God. Her memory of the first time she truly thought she saw him, how he literally kicks her ass in gear when she veers off the right path.

    When Kate was three and lived in Spain with her parents, her father was station at Torrejon Air Base outside Madrid. Her mother was a devout matron of the church. It was in a church in Madrid when Kate first got hauled off during service with the other children. A dark door just past the alter lead to an unknown place. All she remembered was a warm, overwhelming light coming from the open door. At that moment she wasn’t scared anymore.

    Her life has included child abuse, foster care, drugs, alcohol, many immature decisions and now marriage and children. It is the fear of the word of God about suicide, the hope of the ever after, and faith that before, during and after everything that has happened to her, He has been by her side clearing the way.

    Kate looked down at the little people rushing around like ants at work. Wiped her eyes and said, “Now if you get off the flipping, freezing edge, and go inside, I will show you how you can have what I have, and live.”

    Her friend led the way and they crawled through the window.

    1. annefreemanimages

      Hi Penny – what courage Kate showed! I got dizzy just thinking about it. Like the intro paragraph a lot. One small grammatical thing: the following sentence: “Your wrong Kate, your not listening Kate, your elephant shit Kate!” Your should actually be you’re, as in you are. Loved the “volumn game” idea. An effective way to show the troubles in their relationship, the lack of balance of power between husband and wife. Nice job.

      ~Anne

    2. JR MacBeth

      The first paragraph is charged with genuine emotion, very nice penney.
      Paragraph 2, hope this doesn’t sound nit-picky, God knows typos are too easy (for anyone): The question mark needs to be moved, put after “Why don’t you”…
      More personal, but the “preachy” part, it’s probably one of those things that lends itself to more “show” than tell. Obviously, the limited word-count would have made that a real challenge, but for me, while “showing” doesn’t have to be a sacred “rule”, this still might be the time where it will help mitigate against the potential alienation some readers might start to feel. A touchy subject, but when the story-teller manages to appear to remain “neutral”, instead of on a mission, I personally think it works better. Of course there’s nothing wrong with characters who have a strong faith, the harder trick is to somehow show that, instead of explain it (such as through painful bio elements). I commend you for tackling a very difficult subject matter!

      1. penney

        The question of where the punctuation goes after a quote has been great debate for me. Inside the quote, outside the quote, before the he said or after the he said. I always thought no matter what the !?. went at the very end of the speech line. That’s what I get for putting writing off for so long after school. Styles seem bias to which ever book MLA etc. the editor likes. It is all very confusing so your note is very helpful.
        Also, I know getting too bible thumpie scares people off, preachy is not my intent, hope I did get a middle ground but this maybe could fall under inspirational writing. Thank you very much.

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