Friday Night Story


The world seems smaller from a hundred stories up. The air is thinner and cleaner. The wind rises up and my tie slaps me across the face, a final fuck you from the global weather system. Cigarette smoke sears my nostrils, a rusted scalpel scraping the hate from me like rancid butter off burnt toast. I try to forget being told to use my best theory of yes for VIP clients, and I rub my hands to clean them of the blood that isn't there.

I lean over the edge, just to the point where vertigo grabs you, and all on its own your imagination shows you what its like to fall because you can feel gravity trying to seduce you. And for all her cruelty, gravity has one sultry voice, a backdoor into the instinct that makes falling fun until it kills you.

I've come up here because I hate myself. Hate the way I laugh. That it took my parents twenty seven years to admit they loved me. That Jen left me, and that I was too stubborn and proud to give in to her, even if I was right. That I sometimes still talk to God and expect something to happen. That I’m stuck hating people when I’m alone, but trying to make them happy whenever I’m near them. That I'm crippled in my job because the chances I'd have to take to leave it are more terrifying than getting stuck here until I'm downsized.

Life is so calm a hundred stories down. Cars pass by without noise, and people move like whispers, and at this distance there isn't any rush at all. From this far away, the world seems... good. Maybe even peaceful.

I take another drag, but in the thin air the cigarette is meaner than it needs to be, and I cough, starting a tickle at the back of my throat that nearly makes me wretch; but like any true fiend, I keep the cigarette clenched in my lips, sucking diseased air through it while I try to force the bile down.

I take it out of my mouth and stare at it, smoke still wandering off its tip as the wind tries to kill me secondhand. I drop the cigarette. It tumbles in the air, and I watch it, focus, stare, anything to track its descent. I imagine the sharp stop as burnt tobacco burst through its thin paper skin when it reaches the sidewalk. I upend the rest of the pack, and they fall out and are caught up in the wind, and dance down a circlcular stair as they fall. I palm my lighter, a polished chrome number that belonged to my aunt, and I wind my arm back. But that would be too violent, too angry, just another outlet for my loathing, and another thing to hate myself for tomorrow.

I set it on the ledge and go back inside.

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