The Fall: A Short Story

After neglecting this blog for quite a while, here I present a short story written by yours truly.

The Fall
There are too many memories here. There are too many faces. Yellow taxis driving too fast and billboards that are much too big surround me. This expansive city that I used to call home is now too crowded.
            My breath catches and I remind myself that everything is okay. The last time I was here I came face-to-face with something I still can’t fully comprehend. It was three years ago. Three years ago that the only man I had ever loved, left me. I say, “left” because I don’t know what else to call jumping off a 30 story building.
            They say that there are signs, signs of the depression, and signs of unhappiness but as far I’m concerned he was the same person I had loved from day one. It is funny how signs work.
The letter he left to me in the right pocket of his jeans was the worst part of it all. I was the only one he left something for and that scared me for reasons I didn’t understand. Sometimes I think it may reveal something I will never be ready to know. I tucked it away somewhere that I don’t remember. The idea that one day I could reach into my pocket and find it terrifies me. Maybe leaving it unopened the past three years was equally as bad as him leaving but with its crumpled edges and smeared writing, it is the only thing I have left of a world where he still exists.

I head down to the A train on Spring Street and Sixth Avenue hoping to catch the subway within the next half hour. The underground transportation system of New York City still scared me. No matter how many times I was confronted by desperate homeless people or “mistakenly” groped in the train car, I had convinced myself that the subway would never be comfortable. Upon descending the stairs the mixed scent of sweat, anxiety and engine fuel consumed me. The quiet ashen walls were disturbed by street music, big shots that didn’t believe in town cars and tired-looking mothers trying to keep track of their private school educated children. In a place with so much life, it makes you wonder why, in this same place, others decide to end theirs. Making a beeline towards the platform I am stopped by a young girl, maybe twenty.
“Aren’t you the one who

“Yes.”
The news of the jump was big. You would think a suicide in New York would be on the list of daily affairs in The City of Dreams, but when someone as powerful and wealthy as Sam De Luca commits suicide, it makes the front cover of the Times and Wall Street Journal.
The wide-eyed girl gives me a look of disgust and walks away. The one thing people from the outside don’t understand is that talking about a vanished love slowly makes you go insane.
Upon boarding the train I found an empty seat: every New Yorker’s dream.  The view in the subway is bleak. When you’re not looking out the window at the cement walls rushing by, you are forced to stare at the people. With a glance to my right I notice a man nodding off and then jerking awake every few seconds. Although he looks barely old enough to be on the subway alone, his suit tells of either a lawyer or a stockbroker. His trendy loafers and new-age Zac Efron haircut reveal that he is probably an intern who is trying to catch some sleep before heading back to his firm where he spends eighty hours a week.  Despite the hectic life I am sure he lives, he looks peaceful in his sleep. It’s funny the effect strangers have on you.
The ride back to Brooklyn has never been my favorite but at least I am only grudgingly sent into the city once every couple of weeks. As an editor, there are few things I hate more than having to read every menial author’s “brilliant” material. Being a grammar Nazi is something I am proud of but you can only read so many vampire novels before you go numb in the head. If Sam had been the one having to read all these dreadful stories, I would have understood the motive behind his final jump.
The subway car slows down and the brakes scream. I grab my things and make a quick exit from the train. My studio apartment is only a few blocks from the station. Being a single woman in New York, you have to plan accordingly for those potential late night walks. Living so close to the station lowers my chance of being raped, kidnapped or killed. I like my odds better this way because if any of these things were to happen, I can’t count on Ice-T and his team from SVU to rescue me.  
Upon entering the lobby of my building I am greeted by the all-too-friendly front desk associate.
“Good evening Ms. De Luca how goes the city life?” He greets me with a toothy grin.
It is people like him who make my skin crawl. He attempts to flip his hair out of his eyes but the excessive amount of hair gel slathered on his greasy head has other plans.
“Goodnight Norman.”
Why are creepy guys always given the serial killer names?
The elevator ride to the eighth floor seemed longer tonight. The glass that looks out to the city below is smudged with fingerprints of children who look out this same elevator and marvel at the lights that awaken the entire city. The same lights that lead people to make their home in this terrifyingly beautiful city. There is nothing I want more than to be home. Home is safe.

            When you’re a De Luca, you know that Sunday brunch with the family is non-negotiable. We stopped going to church three years ago. My mom, two younger sisters and older brother live in a suburb but insist on taking the train to Brooklyn every Sunday. This week it was Gabbie’s turn to pick the restaurant and being the hip seventeen-year-old she is, she picked a restaurant in Greenpoint called Five Leaves. Why she is intent on only eating Instagram-worthy food will always be a mystery to me.
            “Oh honey… you’re in jeans?” My mother, never a fashionable woman, scans my rather casual outfit. Brunch has never been a fancy event but Italian mothers always have something to say. I accepted that fact a long time ago.
            “I have to fit in with the hipsters.” I poke fun at my sister’s choice of eatery and she throws me a death stare. It is proven that making fun of your siblings at 26 is still amusing.
            After we all say our hellos we make our way inside. Among the distressed wood, which seems to be everywhere, we find a spot near a window. The marble tables have beautiful pictures etched into them and I run my fingers over the delicate lines of a rose on my end of the rectangular table.
            Sam used to buy me roses when no one else bothered to on those lonely Valentine’s days. I remember him asking me, “So who’s the lucky bastard this year?” This made me laugh.
            “I like going stag. Besides, all sixteen-year-old boys are idiots.”
            “You know, I was a sixteen-year-old boy once too.” He muses.
            “And I’m willing to bet you were an idiot too!”
I remember him laughing: a deep sound rumbling inside him. I remember his eyes crinkling and the lines that were left behind from years of happiness. Later that day he brought home a dozen white roses because, according to him, “only idiots buy red roses.”
He always knew how to take care of his girls. It’s funny how memories work.
I am back in the present with my brother who’s talking about his newest mid-mid-life crisis purchase. Who knew that as a 29-year-old man you needed a car, a motorcycle and a houseboat? Clearly, he had too much time and money on his hands. He is the exact opposite of Sam.
We talk and laugh and eat a rather strange meal. My Moroccan scramble with merguez sausage was, for lack of a better word, weird. And with that, we decide to never let Gabbie pick the restaurant again.
My mother leads us in a prayer and we get disapproving looks from just about the entire restaurant. Apparently, hipsters have never seen people pray. She ends the verse with, “we love you.” Without saying it aloud, we all know whom she is talking about and I know that we are all feeling the same way too.
Upon parting ways we all embrace each other longer and harder than I think most families hug one another. You don’t realize what you’ve got until it’s gone. Even worse, you don’t realize that it is possible for your world to fall apart until the day your dad jumps off a building.

During the summer, the city is usually not the place you want to be. Between all the bustling people, the taxis and the humidity the place is a walking sauna. Today is different. There’s a slight breeze and it is early enough that most people are still in church services. I decide to walk home. The sun is out and the rays seem to warm me from the inside out. Two blocks in I regret my decision to wear my worn-in jeans. Although they’re not skin tight the thick denim traps the heat. It has been a long time since I last wore these pants and I check the pockets. One of the greatest wonders is finding pieces of your past in an old pair of jeans. Of course finding a twenty-dollar bill is also acceptable.
Upon feeling the ripped edges I immediately think better of my decision. I hope if I keep walking I can put the whole thing out of my head. Walking feels like a bad decision. Monstrous buildings surround me. I can’t look at skyscrapers anymore. I can’t look because every time I do, I see someone falling.
Finally, I decide it is time. There’s a magical little park on my way home and I stop in front of the pond. It is if I can feel that piece of damaged stationery burning in my pocket.

Acknowledgment of the things we’ve lost takes time. With a final breath and a silent prayer to the big man upstairs, I open the fated page. The thing is, you can only ignore pain for so long. It’s funny how pain works.