Writing Catalog

Jaime Israel

Grade: 12

Mayfield High School

Instructor: Kari Beery

Iced Over

Flash Fiction

Iced Over

The roof was flat and tiled. If you took a running start, you might be able to slide a few inches on socked feet. But, in the midst of autumn changing to winter, the tile was cold, possibly even iced. My eyes stayed glued to the tiles, counting every single stray leaf and every single crystal of ice. I knew what would meet my eyes once I looked up. And yet, I was still surprised. There was a tall girl. Exactly five feet and eleven and a half inches tall. Her legs were less than skin and bone, and I knew that her meals had ended up in trash cans, on floors, maybe even out windows. Anywhere but her stomach.

She held herself pretty well. She was clad in a plaid skirt that used to tightly hug her thighs in all the worst ways but now fell loosely around her hip bones. The light sweater that she was tucked into was two sizes too big, making it difficult to tell how impossibly skinny she truly was. Her school-issued black dress shoes were discarded next to her, neatly placed in line, exposing her small socked feet. Maybe she was ice skating among the leaves. Regardless, she was now retired on a singular title.

She was reading a book. Its many pages were tightly wound with a single string. If she desired, she could pull that string and the book would unwind. The pages would drift to the frozen tiles below and join the autumn leaves. But, she was only on page three. It hurt her to think about how long it had taken her to finally read this novel again. The pages sat unturned on her shelf since her birthday two years ago.

Although I couldn't see her face, I knew she was crying.

The book wasn't a sad one. In fact, she wasn't even reading the book anymore. Instead, her eyes stared forward at the page, but she was looking without seeing. Living without breathing. Her eyes frosted over in the chilly mist of the night. The truth is, she hadn't started the book until tonight. She never even attempted. She had no desire to. Except, this was the paper she chose to leave her heart on. Her fingers flipped quickly through the book, landing on random pages. I didn't even realize she had a pen until it softly clicked once. Her soft hand weaved the pen between the printed ink with phrases like 'i love you' and 'i'm sorry'.

And then, the pen stopped.

The ink pooled onto the delicate pages as her shoulders began to shake. A desperate sob ripped from somewhere deep in her chest. It felt like a machine unjamming itself after being stuck. Like she hadn't spoken in years. I wanted to talk to her. I knew her pain. The silence of wanting to ask for help was all too familiar to me. Just as it was to her. Tears began running down my cheeks as my hands trembled. My throat burned with a sob, but I refused to let it escape. Not here. Not now.

Taking a deep breath, I slowly approached her. I knew what would meet my eyes when she turned to look at me, but I dreaded it. My feet dragged along the iced roof as slowly as I could make them. I didn't need to be here. I could leave. I could turn around and go home. Or not. I could go anywhere I wanted to. Anywhere.

Anywhere but here.

But, deep down, I knew this girl needed me. Whoever she was. I knew that all too well. I softly placed a shaking hand on her shoulder. When she turned, I could've sworn I was looking in a mirror. She sighed, and it sounded all too familiar. She blinked a tear from her eye, and that shade of ocean blue looked all too real. I began to realize that her skirt was seemingly taken from my own closet. I noticed the way her sweater was stretched around the collar from hiding her head inside of it just like mine.

Why was I scared?

I had been here before. I had read that book. I had filled those same margins with words. I had the same ocean blue eyes and the same strained sigh and the same skirt that was too big and the same shoes that were too tight and the same sweater that was stretched out in just the right spot. I felt the same pain and I made the same decision to be on this cold tiled roof at two o'clock in the morning.

"Please stay . . ." I whispered to myself.

But it was too late. I was already gone.

I knew what happened next. I had already made that choice. And now, I was a bystander. There was nothing I could do. Even though I could touch her, I could never reach her. She already made up her mind. What I would do to go back and unmake mine. She set down the book and I watched as the pages flipped slowly in the wind, revealing all of the tear-stained ink. She stood up on the edge of the roof, and for a split second, I could see through her eyes. The view from on top of the world was terrifying, but oddly freeing. She knew that all she had to do was jump, and that would be it. Jump.

I blinked and she was gone.

I wanted to tell myself that she had fallen. She slipped and was standing too close to the edge. She was just reading and lost track of time and when she tried to stand back up she slipped. All she wanted to do was ice skate among the frozen leaves. But, that never would've worked. I knew the truth. I saw it all through my eyes and through hers. She was me after all.

And I jumped.