A legion of rusting stairs spiral above me, intimidating and daunting. With one deep breath I begin the journey up, each stair screeching in protest when disturbed. No lights are here to guide me, just the rail my hand brushes over as I climb, chipped metal tearing the skin on my palm. It doesn’t hurt. Pain is a luxury I lost long ago that I could never get back, and now I never will.
Exhilarated thoughts pull my mind this way and that, never resting on any single one for very long. This is such a relief. When will this staircase end? I want to go through with this already. No turning back now. Each one passes in a second, none of them lasting more than a moment.
“Don’t do this,” a whisper echos off the dingy walls around me, breaking the haunting silence and silencing haunting thoughts. I spin around, searching for the owner of the plea, but I find none. Just empty darkness behind me, silent and bare.
“Is someone there?” I breathe. I wait for an answer, but only get the whistle of the wind and the steady drops of water from the ceiling as a response. Sighing in relief, I turn back around and once again fill the silence with the creaking stairs.
I’m just crazy. I knew that. I should have expected something like this.
I continue up the stairs until moonlight hits my face, greeting me into the night. I’m standing on the top of the water tower now, so so close. The air is cool and refreshing after climbing all those stairs.
I wish I hadn’t thought that.
I just wanted to get this over with, but the breeze has invited me to look at the sky, and against my better judgment, I do.
The velvet sky is alight with smiling stars and moonbeams, the constellations dancing along to the music that floats through the streets below me. It feels so dreamlike.
Stop. I did not come here to look at the sky. Focus.
I shake my head vigorously, getting myself back on task
“Don’t do this,” that same voice whispers again, audible for only a moment before the wind carries it away, but its desperation remains and I begin to feel unsettled. I choose to ignore it, now standing at the edge of the tower. When I look over the city lit up below me, my heart stops in shocked recognition. I’ve been here before.
It’s so close to being over. My hands slide over the railing as I brace myself. I send a thousand apologies for the mess I’m about to create, though it’s nothing compared to the mess I’d make if I didn’t make this one. With a final glance at the lively city hundreds of feet beneath me, my eyes squeeze shut and I count the last seconds of my life.
I jolt back into reality with a sharp breath and a startled heartbeat. The memory feels so familiar, so real. But before I can try to understand it, the wind delivers another whisper, this one defeated instead of pleading.
“Don’t do this again.”