The end is always the worst. Jeff sat in his small cubicle office on the tenth floor of the law firm downtown. He stared blankly at the fall scene on his computer screen. Jeff had always liked autumn. Football, sweatshirts, the crisp smell of falling leaves in the air; those were the things Jeff looked forward to as the seasons began to change. Jeff glanced out the floor-to-ceiling window that covered one wall of his office. He had been so excited when the boss showed him his new office. A window! Perfection! Jeff would often times take short breaks and watch the happenings of the city around him. From his vantage point, he could see the lake, the park beside the lake and the downtown square that was always abuzz in the city. Normally this scene would put a smile on Jeff's face, but not today.
Jeff looked back at the computer screen, but his mind was not on the picture before him. For over a month, Jeff had been feeling depressed and angry. It seemed like nothing was going right in his life. The occurrences that led up to his current feelings wouldn't have seemed that significant to others. However, to Jeff, they were crushing. There was the incident at work when Jeff forgot about an important meeting and was unprepared for the presentation he was supposed to lead that day. He had written the date down wrong on his calendar; "A simple mistake", his boss had said, "happens to everyone". Jeff had felt like and idiot and a failure. It was as if a little voice in his head kept repeating you are such a loser. These people were foolish to hire you and think you could help their law firm.
Also, for a few months now, Jeff and his girlfriend, Samantha, had been arguing over the craziest things. The arguments started off small, but then Jeff started getting ideas in his mind that Samantha was cheating on him. The little voice in his head would say you are not good enough for Samantha. Look at how smart and pretty she is. There are plenty of other guys that would be better for her than you. Look at that guy over there checking her out! Maybe she likes him, too. You better watch out, my friend. These thoughts became more prevalent as time passed. Instead of ignoring these awful ideas, Jeff began nurturing them and these feelings became his daily focus.
Last night, he and Samantha had experienced their worst fight since they had started dating over a year ago. Jeff was convinced that Samantha was cheating on him with someone. He couldn't pinpoint that "someone", but Jeff continued to have feelings of mistrust and anxiety when it came to his relationship with Sam.
"Why can't you just trust me, Jeff?" Samantha said with tears streaming down her ivory face. Jeff loved to touch her face. It was always so smooth. He loved looking into her dark brown eyes and kissing her soft-as-petal lips. He often wondered how she kept her lips so soft, even in the dead of winter.
Jeff ran his hands through his jet-black hair as he began to speak. "That guy, at the restaurant just now. You were making eyes at him and you would grin every time he passed by out table!" As Jeff said these words, he knew he sounded ridiculous. He had a feeling, deep down in the pit of his stomach, that he was making a big mistake by not trusting Samantha. However, his irrational thinking seemed to be taking over.
"Jeff, how many times are we going to have to have this argument? I love you, and only you! Why can't you see that?" Samantha was pleading with Jeff. He could see it in those beautiful, dark eyes. He could hear it in the tone of her voice. If he touched her, he knew he would be able to feel the love through her contact. But for reasons unknown to him at the time, Jeff stepped away from Samantha. By taking that step, he sealed the fate of his relationship and his life.
Samantha's eyes grew wide as she finally realized that Jeff would never be able to completely trust her. Samantha gathered her purse and jacket from Jeff's couch. "Good-bye, Jeff. I am so sorry. Just remember that I love you so very, very much," Samantha turned and walked to the door. She paused a few seconds with her hand on the doorknob, hoping Jeff would run to her, tell her to stop. Nothing. Samantha took a deep breath and left Jeff's apartment without looking back.
Jeff stood in the middle of the living room for what seemed like hours. He continued to feed the negative feelings that he was having, convincing himself further that Samantha didn't really love him. That there was no way he could ever trust her. Occasionally, the thought of "you are being irrational, Jeff. You need to rethink this situation and get control over your emotions" would roll through his mind, but he would shut that thought off quickly and continue to obsess over Samantha and her supposed infidelity. By the time Jeff finally lay down on the couch, he was convinced that Samantha was not only cheating on him, but was in another relationship and was just using Jeff for his money.
As Jeff drew himself back into the present, he was still staring blankly at the computer screen. He looked at the time on the screen. It read 11:30. Had he really been sitting here inactive for almost 3 hours? He hadn't even looked at the deposition he was supposed to be going over and then discussing at the meeting at twelve o'clock. He couldn't do it. There was no way he could focus. I need to get out of this office and get some fresh air, Jeff thought to himself.
Jeff took the stairs to the fourteenth and highest floor of the building. He then opened the door and stepped out onto the roof. Ahhh….the cool breeze was just what Jeff needed to clear his head. As Jeff stepped further from the door, the autumn breeze turned into a gusty wind. Jeff's tie began to whip around in front of his face as he walked around on the rooftop.
It only took a moment before Jeff's brain latched on to the obsessive thoughts again. He sighed in exasperation. "What will it take for these thoughts to leave me? I can't function like this!" Jeff was shouting these words with his face turned to the sky and his hands balled into a fist beside him. A tear trickled down his cheek. Jeff sensed a hopelessness surround him that he had never felt in his life. It was as if cold hands were reaching around him squeezing the very breath from him.
Everything became clear to Jeff at that moment. The only way to solve this problem was to jump. If he jumped all the pain and anger he felt would go away. It seemed so simple. Jeff stepped up to the ledge of the red brick building. Normally when Jeff would come up here, he would take in to beauty of the view. Not this time.
Jeff you don't want to do this. Jeff turned to his left suddenly, looking behind him for the source of the voice he heard. The calm voice sounded so peaceful and so reassuring. But no one was there. Jeff was standing alone on the ledge of the building, the wind whipping furiously around him. Alone. Forever.
The terrible feeling once again rose up in him; the cold fingers nudging him to the edge. Jeff took a step and began falling…falling. His body turned so that his face was toward the sky and his back to the ground. He felt his body gaining speed. As he looked to the ledge of the building from where he stepped, he saw two figures that he hadn't noticed before. One was a dark shape; dark as the blackest night with no stars. The other form was shining as bright as the sun. The expression on the dark figure was that of satisfaction. The shining body looked so sad, so very sad.
It was at that moment Jeff realized he had made a mistake. It suddenly became very clear to Jeff. He had listened to the demon instead of the angel. Jeff had fed the demon and starved the angel. He had chosen dark over light. Then, he felt the hardness of the sidewalk crash into his body. Darkness. Nothing.Samantha had just finished her morning classes and was getting ready for her short lunch break before her afternoon classes started. She hadn't slept any the night before. Her mind kept going back to Jeff. Why had he pulled away from her? Why hadn't he stopped her from leaving? She could feel tears welling up as she made her way to the student center. Samantha reached into her purse and felt around for her cell phone. She was silently hoping that Jeff had called. Surly he could not believe that she was cheating on him. She loved him with every thread of her being.
When Samantha retrieved her phone from the bottom of her purse (she really should put it in the pocket provided on the side) and turned it on, she was inundated with numerous calls and texts. Immediately, she was ecstatic because she thought for sure all the beeps and dings were going to be messages and texts from Jeff. Her heart lifted and she smiled to herself. She also sighed with relief that she had turned her phone off. Samantha kept her phone off during class so she would not be embarrassed if someone called her and the ringtone blasted "Crazy Train" as she searched and fumbled for her phone. That had happened once before, and Samantha could still feel the burn of her cheeks from that moment. Samantha hated to be singled out or everyone's attention on her. She preferred to be in the shadows, a watcher, not a leader.
As Samantha looked at her phone, her mood changed suddenly. She had three missed calls from her mom, two from her dad, four texts from her best friend, Alana and three texts from her sister. All said, CALL IMMEDIATELY. None were from Jeff. Oh, no! Samantha said to herself. Her brain went into hyperactive mode. She was racking her mind about what could be wrong. She knew it was serious. Samantha turned and headed to her car instead of going to the student center. As she hurriedly walked, she dialed Alana's cell. It rang only once and then Alana said, "Thank God you called!"
"What is wrong?" Samantha said as she clutched the phone to her ear and walked that much faster to her car.
"Oh, sweetie, I….I don't know how to tell you this. I don't want to tell you over the phone, really, we were just trying to find you…."Samantha could hear the panic in her friends voice.
"Calm down, Alana. Please, just tell me. I can't wait the ten minutes it would take me to get home to find out." Samantha was trying to be calm with Alana, but her insides were electric. She could feel her adrenaline pumping as she continued to move faster to where her car was parked.
"Sammie, it's, it's Jeff. Something awful has happened!" At that Alana started sobbing. "Jeff jumped off his work building this morning and is dead. I am so sorry, Samantha!"
Samantha came to a halt in the middle of the sidewalk. She felt like she was floating through space. Her head felt all fuzzy and she starting having rolling pains in her stomach. "Oh, no. I'm gonna be sick!" Samantha raced over to the nearest bush and began heaving. The tears began streaming down her face into the grass, along with the bile from her nearly empty stomach. She hadn't been able to eat that morning after the fight she and Jeff had the night before.
"Samantha! Sammie! Can you hear me?" Samantha could hear Alana's voice, but she couldn't recall why. Then she looked at her hand, and realized she was holding her phone. "Sammie, stay right where you are. I am coming to get you!" Alana said this and then hung up.
Samantha knelt by the bush and waited for her friend to rescue her from this nightmare.
* * * * * *
Samantha was paralyzed as she sat by the bush. Her mind began replaying the episode with Jeff the night before. It is all your fault. You shouldn't have walked away; you should have stayed. If you had stayed, Jeff would be alive now. The thought made Samantha turn and heave once more. Nothing would come up. She felt like she was choking and her heart was pounding in her ears. Samantha tried to stand, but she felt light headed and woozy. She stumbled back into sitting position.
"Honey, are you okay?" An older lady was walking toward Samantha.
When Samantha looked up at the lady, it was if she was glowing. She was dressed in gray pants and a light pink sweater over a gray and pink top. Her hair was shoulder length blunt cut with bangs and was salt and pepper in color. Her smile was comforting and endearing. Samantha immediately felt drawn to her.
"Jeff is dead." Samantha said as tears continued to stream down her face. The lady sat down by Samantha and put her arms around her.
"Samantha, you must be strong, sweetie. You can't let the devil lie to you like he lied to Jeff". The lady said this as she drew Samantha closer and stroked her hair.
Samantha felt the most amazing calmness in the presence of this person. She closed her eyes and leaned into her. The lady smelled of sweet roses and honeysuckle, two of Samantha's favorite scents. Samantha had never felt such peace in her life as she did in that moment. She wanted to stay like this forever.
Too soon, the moment ended. Samantha opened her eyes, and she was alone. As she looked around for the lovely smelling lady that gave her such peace, she saw her friend, Alana, running toward her.
As Alana bent to hug her, Samantha said, "Where did the lady go?"
Alana pulled back from hugging Samantha and looked around. "What lady?"
"She helped me feel better," Samantha said as Alana helped her friend up from the ground.
Alana had an odd expression on her face. "Sweetie, there was no one around you. I knew the vicinity you were in because of the Find Friends app on our phone. I saw you, but I had to circle around the building before I could pull my car over and come to you."
Samantha's brow creased and she shook her head as Alana helped her toward the car. Could she have imagined it? The experience was so real and peaceful. She looked over her shoulder once more as Alana led her to her car. There was no one there.