Short story competition – WINNER

I really enjoyed this short story; it was gripping from beginning to end, successfully holding a sinister tone throughout. I especially loved the way it ended – very powerful. There’s also an important overall message to consider here. It is well written and I encourage the writer to continue writing as her creative gift is obvious. Again, well done!

‘The Meaning of Life’ by Louise Smyth

“It’s ok. You don’t have to do this. Do you want to talk about it? Just step away and we’ll have a proper talk all right?”

Their meaningless concerns are just audible over the sounds of the busy street below. I smirk to myself.  They think they know what this is about. Apparently I am depressed, sad to the point that killing myself feels like the only option. This leads them to believe that I am delusional. I am insane. I am lost within my mind.

Ha! They have no idea.

I expect that if they had access to my most personal thoughts I would be drowned in leaflets and bombarded by idiotic therapists and pompous shrinks.

“Soon.”

I look to the source of the murmur beside me. My love. He understands. We’d met randomly at a music event and clicked. We shared everything, even our deepest and darkest wonderings. In fact, those were the thoughts that brought us so close together.

I squeeze his hand. I can hear the police officers behind creeping closer, trying to be subtle, trying not to startle us. They’re so stupid! They know nothing. They fill up their heads with nonsense. How can they bear it? This is the reason for our decision. We have seen and heard enough. We were stupid to feel those naive emotions when we were young; but it doesn’t matter now. We have found the meaning of life. The meaning of life is to die. To be so totally free of all the bonds to society and all the lies and the fakery that surrounds us will be incredible. We have discovered the truth. We are superior. We don’t belong here. We’ll leave this life behind and we’ll fly. I can’t wait.

My feet shuffle on the concrete, the front half of my feet sticking out over the edge, and I risk a glance back at those degenerates. They’re quite close now and for a second I panic that they’re going to ruin everything. But Daniel pulls me closer to him, grips my hand and moves his mouth slightly, releasing the smallest of breaths.

“3.”

My heart leaps with excitement.

“2.” I whisper, barely audible.

Then he slips.

I’m falling. That’s all I can register in the first few milliseconds. I’m falling and I don’t like the fact that the ground is approaching. I thought I would love this, I thought it would be a thrill. I was so wrong. A vague memory of falling off a wall when I was a child flashes through my mind and I remember the intense pain of a broken wrist and screaming for relief all the way to the hospital. I must have blocked that memory because it reminds me strongly that I do not want to feel that pain again. But now it’s not going to be just my wrist, it’s going to be everything. It’ll be a moment of pure torture then… what? Too late for me to question my beliefs now! I look at him with difficulty, the wind is pushing up against my face. His eyes are closed tight but apart from that his face seems… at peace. Why am I not feeling the same? I should be rejoicing but instead I am writhing in the air, desperate for something to save me. Why didn’t I think rationally when I was standing on the edge? In this moment, I do not feel superior. I am the opposite of superior, desperate to be saved from this dread that has overcome my mind.

Faintly I notice the blur of office windows speeding upwards and vaguely note that the feeling of the cold air pushing against my body as the unrelenting gravity drags me down is far from pleasant. My thoughts are racing through my mind, as I realise that I will soon be dead and gone. There will be nothing left of me except for an empty, motionless body lying on a street for people to stare at, and this knowledge makes me more depressed than any suicidal thought ever known to man. The fact that I will lose my consciousness in approximately 2 seconds is terrifying and my mind explodes as the cracked pavement grows too detailed to bear. I hear a scream close by which causes me to close my eyes tight and hope for silence. In the few nanoseconds that remain of my life I realise that I never found the true meaning of life. I was misled, mistaken, I was a fool for thinking I could defeat life. Life will always conquer. Sure, I can play the game; I can play with vigour and rage and come so close to winning that I can taste the victory like nothing before. But I will never win. And as I hit the ground, in the second it takes for the unbearable agony to sweep through my body, I know. My final thought is torn carelessly from me into the fading light and as it is trampled beneath the crowd of witnesses to my mangled body it cries out in one last breath:

“I don’t want to die.”

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