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She's Too Young

By´╝ÜJessa Kane

Chapter One


Before you judge me, please understand something. I didn’t go looking for her.

She found me.

After that, there was no letting go.

Is it loneliness that had me standing on the ledge of a one hundred and twenty-story building? Potentially. Or was it simply needing to feel life flow through my veins in a way I hadn’t in years? I can’t even recall the last time I felt anything other than cold detachment from my surroundings. And with that same horrifying numbness, I looked down at New York City racing below and realized I didn’t give a fuck if I lived or died. My time here would be swept away in a tide of paperwork and money changing bank accounts.

Perhaps a new name plastered atop the very building on which I stood.

Inside the ballroom one floor down, a party raged in my honor, but I’d yet to make an official appearance. Honestly, I just couldn’t find it in myself to interrupt and make them applaud or produce half-hearted toasts when they’re enjoying themselves. It’s all a sham, anyway, isn’t it? Smile for the boss. Clap for the boss and pretend he’s not an expressionless prick who hasn’t taken the time to learn any of their names.

I hadn’t planned on jumping, if that’s what you’re wondering. Not when I have an eight a.m. meeting with my company’s Singapore division. I was only curious if death staring me in the face might prompt some kind of revelation. Or just give me a goddamn feeling. Those pesky hot and cold sensations that used to signal a change in mental disposition. I used to hate feeling anything. Just then, however, I was desperate. So I’d climbed up on the ledge in my tuxedo, waiting for the rush that wouldn’t come…

But it did.

Ironically, the soft, feminine strains of singing almost caused me to slip, which would have been the pity of a lifetime because when I turned around, a girl stood there. And my cold, underutilized, thirty-year-old heart barely withstood the onslaught of feeling.

She is way, way too young. Her age is there in the way she wobbles in her high heels, the cheap, sparkly disaster of a dress that whips around her legs, the fresh quality of her singing voice. And before you judge me, understand that she’s the most beautiful person I’ve ever encountered. Not just in blonde good looks, but in…energy. Yes, I realize that is ridiculous coming from someone who forgot how to feel, but it’s as though the clouds parted and dropped an angel onto the roof of my building. That’s how she moves, how she smiles softly at the city lights. She doesn’t see me; thinks she’s alone. Needing to watch her move and listen to her sing a little longer, I use the concrete piling for balance, attempting to maintain my even breathing, difficult though it is when my heart is blocking attempts to get a good breath.

As I watch, she turns in a slow pirouette, hands in a loose oval above her head, like a ballerina. She spins in graceful circles across the roof, fluid as water, humming in her throat. No hint of self-consciousness or reservations. And I wonder if maybe I jumped, after all. Maybe this is what the other side looks like. Heaven is real.

Even as the idea occurs, I know it’s impossible. I don’t deserve heaven.

She begins to hold a conversation with an imaginary person—or so it seems from this distance—nodding when the invisible human asks her to dance, and then she’s waltzing toward me, arms extended as if being led by a man.

I am jealous of the imaginary dance partner. Irrationally, blindingly jealous. Knowing the gut-churning reaction is ridiculous doesn’t stop me from embracing it, though, because finally, finally, I’m feeling something. And it’s because of her.

Wide-eyed fear transforms her gorgeous face when she sees me on the ledge.

“Oh, please don’t.” Dance forgotten, her hands fly up to cover her eyes, but she spreads her fingers after a moment and peaks through, increasing the weight of my heart to anvil-status. “Please, please, come down. I’m so sorry for whatever happened, but you can’t. You just can’t.”

“Why?”

My curiosity is genuine. I want to know what this creature deems worthy of living. I need to know. “Because there’s still time.” Her hands are pressed to her cheeks now and I’m experiencing guilt over not immediately explaining I don’t plan to off myself. I’ve put my impending salvation or doom on her slight shoulders and that’s not fair. But I’m not a fair man. It’s the reason I own this building, the one next door and dozens more throughout the world. Fairness is a direct contradiction of survival of the fittest. That is what I was taught from a young age and I’ve never experienced a different method. “There’s still time to fix everything,” she breathes, her sweet voice carried to me on the wind. “Time goes on and on.”

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