How it came down to this I do not remember. Standing on the balcony, I look across the roofs of the vast city, thoroughly blackened by night but still illuminated by what seems like an eternity of electrical lights shining out of windows. A cold wind blows a sporadic drop of rain on my forehead. I look up into the cloudy sky and realize that I cannot see a single star. Is it the clouds that obscure my view, or is it the fact that a few hundred feet down the street the blinking blue lights of an ambulance car draw my eye’s attention to themselves, flaunting their importance above everything else? The shrilling siren echos back from every house around me, almost drowning out the noise of the city that appears to be almost as wide awake as it is during day. As another blow of wind rearranges my clothes as it sees fit, I look down onto the bleak grey pavement (some blades of grass grow here and there, where it seems to have broken through what I believe must be six feet of stone and for a split second I wonder what this city would look like if nature were to reclaim it entirely – would the plants throw a “welcome back”-party?). As I stare down a picture hits my mind.
I am 14, 15 years old. I see myself dressed in frumpy, modest clothes, running down wooden stairs. It is a bright, warm day, but I am cold and devastated. I break through the backdoor into the garden, where life buzzes with bees and butterflies. I run, run through the grass, to that one place in our garden where I always run when I feel like this – a small patch of grass hidden behind dad’s shed for the garden tools. It is the only place in the garden that cannot be seen from the house. I sit down on the lush, moist grass in the shadow of the shed and pull my knees to my chin. The voices in my head yell awful things at me, and the evil lady looks at me with disgust.
The evil lady is me. It took me years to realize this. She is me. She lives in my head, and she is as evil as you can image. But she’s not alone up there. There is me, and then there is the evil lady, and then there is also the shadow girl. I didn’t know who she was on that day in the garden. In fact, I rarely saw her. She never talks much and rarely comes in when evil lady punishes me. I just knew she was there, and that the evil lady didn’t like her very much. The evil lady is me, but she is dressed all black, carrying a black stick. She also has black hair (unlike me), and evil, black eyes. Her lips form an edgy curve and her nose is much smaller and more pointed than my real nose. Nevertheless I recognize her, myself, and I know I’m up for trouble.
The evil lady is the lady who punishes me when nobody else does, or can. She scared me when I was a child, but at the same time I loved her. I feel like I need her. Without her, I would be just me. That other me in my head. The me that the evil lady always yells at. That me is sitting in the corner of my head, in the same position, crying. She knows what’s coming, I know what’s coming.
Evil lady is very angry. She stares at me and starts screaming. “You are NOTHING. You are STUPID! You are WORTHLESS and UGLY and I HATE YOU I HATE YOU I HATE YOU!” is what she yells at me today. She doesn’t stop. I sit with my eyes closed and let her scream, because it will get all worse if I don’t. “You never do anything right! You can’t do anything you worthless girl! Why can’t you do things right for ONCE, just FOR ONCE? Nobody likes you, nobody loves you, nobody wants you, why don’t you understand that? If you would just understand how despicable you are, you could finally disappear. It would be better for everyone, believe me.” She yells for about 5 minutes until she is so angry that she starts beating the me in my head with a stick. She lashes out in a rage, again and again, until I bleed all over. But she’s not satisfied. She tells me, the real world me, to do something. “I wish you were dead”, she yells as she beats me.
As I look at the house, making sure nobody is coming to look for me, I contemplate jumping off of the roof. Our house isn’t high enough to kill me. None of the houses around is high enough to kill me. I remember wishing that I could go to New York, and jump off one of the high buildings there. For some reason, that is the only way I can image killing myself. I so wish that one day I could find myself on the roof of a house high enough to kill me. I imagine what falling would feel like – I promise myself that if I ever got the chance to do it, I would.As I am standing on the balcony in the dark night, I remember the words of the evil lady. This house is high enough. This is my chance. As I look down on the pavement, several stories below me, a small scene unfolds in front of my eyes. How I climb across the railings of the balcony. I how I stand there for a second, saying my goodbyes to the world. And then I let go. My body gets mangled in terrible ways as I hit the ground. Over and out. The evil lady giggles. I quickly snap back and take a look around me. The wind is blowing, but more gently now. Fresh. Lights twinkle like countless starts. The cars are rushing by, somewhere a horn sounds. The ambulance lights are still on. My very existence gets lost in the endless stream of life here, and for a second I feel too alive to jump. I take a sip from my cocktail and breath deeply. I realize that the evil lady was wrong all along. She never thought things through: If she did, she would have known that the day my chance to jump came would be a day on which all reasons to jump have disappeared. That’s how the cookie crumbles, I suppose. I smile and go back inside. My friends are waiting, ready to go out for the night.