Looking back over this now, it isn’t my best piece of writing, but at the time I thought it was brilliant. This was the first big compition I entered and it didn’t win. That was a let down. Entered in May 2011 this is called “JUMP”. Enjoy!
Joe looked at me again, almost pleading with me in his usual air of silence. His eyes were an almost muddy brown, not how I had though an angel’s eyes would be.
“You can’t, Lexie,” he said eventually “You just can’t.”
He gazed over the brink of the building, the thin smog not affecting his sight in the slightest. Slowly he let go of my shoulders, as if my stillness was protecting him. I peered over the edge, squinting through the smog to the busy urban road at the bottom. It was a long way down. I hoped it was enough.
“You’re something special,” I said, pulling away from the edge.
“I’m not a thing, Lexie,” Joe said, scaring me slightly the way he had cut me off with such an angry tone, “And that’s why I can’t show them, because they won’t understand ether. None of you understand.”
“And I’m not them!” I argued, “You can’t say I’m like them.”
“You want me to show them what I am,” Joe whispered, holding my hands even though I could tell he didn’t want to, “You want them to know so that they can benefit.”
“I want what’s best for the human race, Joe,” I snapped, shivering in the wind, “You can’t put me down for that.”
“And what about what’s best for me?” Joe argued, “If you jump down I’m not going to catch you.”
I had thought I had expected him to say that up until he said it, It hit me hard. I slowly looked over the edge again. It was a long way down and almost suicidal to be up here in this weather. I stepped away from the edge and looked again at Joe.
“You have to,” I tried, my voice barely audible over the wind.
“So they can strap me down and cut me up?” Joe snapped, his voice uncharacteristically fierce. He grabbed my arms, holding me tight but also pushing me towards the edge. “I’m not normal, Lexie! They won’t understand. I’m not like you! I’m not like any of you!”
“Don’t call me them!” I shouted, pushing him away. He stumbled backwards, tripped over his own feet. I turned away and stepped back onto the very edge of the building, my body swaying in the wind. It whipped my hair in front of my eyes. I tried to brush it away with no success.
“Don’t Lexie!” Joe warned from the floor, “I won’t come after you. I’m not killing myself for some insensitive teenage brat!”
I brushed my hair from my face, holding it in a bun behind my head, and turned again to Joe for what I though could be the last time, and I knew he could see the betrayal in my eyes. He had shown me what he was with trust, and I was taking advantage of him, I knew, but the world needed to know what he was.
He pushed himself up from the floor, not daring to come any closer, just reading my eyes, before I closed the, ready for the flight. I took a deep breath and stepped out.
Joe grabbed me from behind before I even left the building edge, pulling me back onto the roof. My head hit the concrete and I could feel myself bleeding. Clearly I couldn’t survive a fall from the top of the building to the bottom if I bled at this short fall. I picked myself up and ran at Joe, who was dusting himself off. Joe grabbed my forearms.
“If you jump you’re going to kill yourself, or me!” he shouted, the force pushing me back towards the edge, “Is that what you want, Lexie? What? Just because you can’t get your own way, just this once, you think that’s ok? Life isn’t like comic books Lexie. I ain’t a hero!” With every sentence he pushed me closer. I dug my heels into the floor but it was no use. “They won’t worship me, Lexie! They’ll murder me. Pump me with poisons and slice me open. And then it will be my mum and my dad and my sister. She’s six years old, Lexie, for crying out loud! She’s just a kid! You’re just a kid! You have no idea what you’re doing. Humans aren’t peace-people. Anything new, anything alien, they’ll destroy.”
We were close to the edge now, not as close as before but close. Trying to stop him clearly wasn’t working, so I tried to pull away but his grip was tight, his hands shaking with anger.
“Let me go then, Joe!” I snapped back “Let me fall and fail.”
“I’m not going to let you…”
I pushed him away, sliding backwards and moments later I tripped over the edge, plunging backwards towards the earth.
The wind forced my eyes closed. Someone on the road below screamed and now they were all looking up at me. I could see them, somehow, as if I was not in my body. I’m ok, I repeated like a mantra in my head, I’m ok, he’ll come. He had to. The wind snapped at my face and I gasped for air that was rushing past too fast for me to catch. My clothes tore at my skin, my body falling faster than the cloth.
It didn’t feel like I was falling. Everything else was just rushing up too fast for me to keep up.
I tried to open my eyes, but fear or gravity or something else stopped me, and I had no idea whether or not Joe was coming for me. Except I did. He would come. He had to. I sped towards the earth, or the earth sped towards me, whichever one it was. It was happening faster now. My heart beat became so fast it felt like it was past bursting, already having exploded, and it pumped the un-oxygen-filled blood to my head. And slowly I began to come round to the idea that Joe might not…
And then, finally, I felt someone’s hand around my waist. The wind stopped and, relieved, I opened my eyes. I was soaring through the smog, rushing through the sky. I laughed and looked up at Joe, his white feathered wings shading my eyes. Joe was not pleased. His face was dark, his eyes squinting ahead of him even though I knew he didn’t need to. He flew high above the smog so much so I was sure we must have only looked like a bird from the ground now. But maybe it was too late.
“Thank you, Joe,” I said quietly.
Joe ignored me, flying far out of the city to the quiet little farm his family owned. We touched down in the field and Joe’s wings morphed back into his shoulders. He trudged away through the mud to the barn, not saying a word.
“Joe,” I called after him “Joe, please! I’m sorry!”
I tried to run after him but the mud was thick. I sighed.
Joe spun around, his face like thunder. “You know what, Lexie. I don’t care. Go run off to your little friends. I don’t care, but don’t ever come near me or my family again.”
“Joe,” I tried again.
“FLYING MAN SEEN IN SKYS OF ELEVENCY”
The article was a total work of fiction. Almost every word was a lie, but it had circulated its way around the city and everyone knew it was me who he had saved. The police had been round my house twice, before my mum insisted I go to hospital to check for alien probing, and then they came another three times. Every time I told them I didn’t know who he was, that he wasn’t trying to hurt me, but they didn’t listen and for some reason they thought my statement was going to change every time they came.
Every time I turned on the TV, images of Joe flashed across the screen, even when it wasn’t on the TV. Every word he had said I knew now was true. I knew it then, too, I think. I don’t know what I was trying to achieve.
It’s been four years since then now. I still haven’t heard from Joe, but they never found him. If they did it wasn’t publicised. They must have been forced into hiding, run from the country like a gang of criminals. Maybe it would have been easier if they were. Every year or so the story’s mentioned again, and every time I feel the same blockage in my throat because I knew…. I wasn’t stupid. I knew this would happen. I knew…