I See Before the Burst

October 6, 2012 § Leave a comment

I tell them, I never see myself at the bottom of the river, or crushed beneath the car tire. No, I don’t even see myself falling fast, fast through the air, or I guess at 9.8 meters per second squared, really, since gravity doesn’t discriminate between peaceful autumn leaf and roaring, tumbling human body, though I think we’d like it better if it did. I don’t see myself flattened against the earth whenever I reach the bottom, wherever that is, whenever that is.

Think, they say. You don’t think these things.

No, I say, I don’t see. But I do see myself dangling over the edge of the cliff, extended far off with my arms broad as an eagle, feeling the air push and pull me, push and pull, but never taking flight. There’s a favorite of mine, I say, where I see myself crawling down the side of a bridge like Spiderman, and then I crawl underneath and stare at the specks in the concrete. I feel the rushing traffic below me, but I don’t see it, only the cold, hard concrete, and I just cling on. I think about funny things that don’t make any sense, like who else has touched this concrete, who else has seen it, who put it here, and what is he eating for dinner tonight? I don’t think about letting go, I just feel the people rush above me and rush below me and dangle at the edge of suicide.

Their eyebrows frown, their pens make scratchy noises, the receptionist’s phone rings and she answers it in a squeaky tone.

What I do see, I tell them, is the moment right before. I guess that’s what I’m trying to say. I see the taxi rounding the corner, I see my leg extending off the curb. I see myself wading deep in the water, watching it ripple round, remind me I’m still here. I hear gravel crunch, flies buzz. I don’t really see my face, or maybe I do, but it doesn’t look like me. It’s just a filler body. The surroundings are what matters, the action.

Tell me about the pool.

The pool?

When you were a child. You mentioned the weekly trips to the pool.

Oh yes, the pool. I hated going to the pool. There was a man there who always smiled at me with a round belly covered in slick black hair. He’d bounce along in the shallow end with me and I’m swim behind my sister, but he’d bounce along and follow and sometimes that wet, hairy belly would push up against me and I’m kick, kick, kick to the deep end. And then I’d slip my head below the surface and push down, down, down, until my feet felt the bottom. And then I waited.

You waited?

Yes, I waited.

What did you wait for?

I don’t know. The silence to explode in my ears, I suppose. At the bottom of the pool the water pushed in on me at all sides and nothing rippled, nothing moved, nothing breathed. So I waited for it all to explode. And what would happen when it exploded?

Well, it’d explode that’s all. And I’d explode, and I could be happy. But that’s just it, see. It never exploded. Nothing ever explodes. So I’d swim back to the surface, and the worst moment, the absolute worst moment, was when my head burst through and I saw all the little things I hated, like the pool rules sign and my Dad reading the newspaper and the woman folding towels. I hated even looking it. I wanted to stop my eyes from seeing, so I’d splash them with chlorine and stare into the burn.

But I like the dangling, really. It’s really when I feel the most comfortable, that halfway point between life and death, the pause before action. Maybe because when you’re just dangling, you’re in control of whether or not you fall, so you don’t have to fall at all. No need to prove a point, really. No need at all.


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