**Content Warning – Contains descriptions of suicide, death and homophobic slurs.
I watched you fall off a cliff yesterday. Hands flailing, shock coursing through every fiber of your being. The wind blew you around like a lone leaf before gravity took over. You collided against some jagged edges, but the wolfish wind pulled you back into its mouth. I didn’t hear a thud. The valley is deep. You’re probably lying down there like a limp rag doll or clinging to some low hanging trees. Either way, I hope Jack-Jack finds you.
I craned my neck and looked down the cliff for a few minutes after you fell. This weird urge to jump took over. What’s the word for that? The wind whispered in Jack-Jack’s voice. “L’appel du vide. Call of the void.”
I couldn’t sleep last night. I tried to think about homework and school, but my mind was stuck on you. You probably experienced pure shock for the first few feet. I had thrown you. And then your entire life probably flashed before your eyes, with Jack-Jack in all your memories. And mine.
100 feet – You probably thought of the time when Jack-Jack and I went exploring the marsh and found a bloated dead body. It was the coolest thing. Later, he mimicked his father talking, with a pretend cigarette dangling off his lips. “The marsh is where addicts and murderers hide. You are never to go there again, JJ.” We laughed until our sides hurt. You were there.
150 feet- Jack-Jack’s tree-house. That time when we stole a giant bottle of Coke from his parents’ fridge and mixed it with a whole pack of Mentos. It was epic! From my bedroom window, I heard his Mom yelling later that day. You saw it too. You were there.
200 feet – Our superhero phase probably flashed before your eyes. We tried to fight that school bully and he promptly broke our faces. We walked home with bloody mouths and our capes flapping in the wind. On the way, wiping his mouth on his jacket sleeve, Jack-Jack declared that if we were to fight the bully, we had to increase our angular and linear momentum. That evening, I listened to my mixtape on my walkman, while he bent over a notebook scribbling equations. You were there.
250 feet- You were there when we played hooky from school and sneaked into the bearded woman’s tent next to the big top. Jack-Jack pretended to be blind and I pretended to be deaf when we were caught. I still cannot believe they bought our stories! Nightmares of the bearded woman plagued me for many nights after. I never told him that. I didn’t want him to think I was scared. But he gave me his lucky jacket and said it would protect me.
I kept you on the top shelf with my only suit.
The other night, I heard loud voices coming from Jack-Jack’s house. “Where did we go wrong, Pam?” His father thundered. “Why couldn’t God give us a normal son? I will not have a fag living under my roof, do you hear that, boy?”
“We’ll have him tested.” His mother’s quivering voice said. “I’m sure this is all just a phase.”
“It’s who I am, mom! I can’t change it. I’m sorry!” He cried.
Loud voices overlapped after that. A few minutes later, everything was silent.
They said he jumped off the cliff. But they didn’t find his body. They won’t. He had equations for landing safely. I stood at the edge everyday and called out his name. My heart thumped every time I bent forward.
I wore you all the time. It was like Jack-Jack was with me.
I went to the marsh every other day. Maybe he was hiding out with the addicts. I spent hours alone in his treehouse. His parents didn’t mind. They hardly talked.
I hugged you and cried.
Everyone at school kept asking how I was. I said I was fine and draped you over his empty desk.
Today was particularly chilly. It will start snowing soon. If Jack-Jack had jumped off the cliff, he would need you, his lucky jacket.
1000 feet- You probably found each other.
I’ll go to the cliff again tomorrow. The void will sing its siren song. And like everyday, I will sit at the edge and wait for Jack-Jack and you.
Oh Hema another superb piece of writing. I was hooked all the way through. Poor Jack Jack!
Love the changes, Hema! Children do not cope with death the same way adults do. This portrays that idea perfectly.
It took me a little while to figure out the “you” was the jacket, but once I did it changed the whole tone. When I thought he was addressing another person, it felt kind of clinical, but then on re reading it turned into a kind of eulogy. One tiny change I’d suggest is to say “arms” instead of “hands” in the first paragraph 🙂
You got it! I wrote it in response to a prompt (eulogy to a piece of clothing) on Writers Digest. I’m so glad it came through. Thanks, Laura!
wolfish wind pulled you back into its mouth. — love this so much. It took me about halfway to realize “you” was the jacket. I think newcomers hands was the culprit…sleeves maybe? The checkpoints worked well. Melancholy and full of a young persons first bout with grief. An emotional piece.
Did my commentary through?
Superb story telling here Hema. Love the break of the fall at 150 feet, 250 feet..
Thank you, Sara 🙂