Have you ever had the feeling that the world was moving on without you? That no matter what, you’re frozen in place while your entire life becomes a wildfire that burns everything you love to ash? That’s the recurring nightmare I’d been living. One punch after the other knocked me on my ass.
I’d prayed, gotten angry, and tried my damnedest to find solace in the smallest things in hope that my feet would land on steady ground. My chest would fill with a deep burning breath that would provide me with a sense of peace as it expelled from my lungs.
But that breath hadn’t come. As if Mother Nature herself was mocking me, a gust of wind flipped my loose hair across my face, the buzzing nightlife of the city temporarily shielded from sight. Sullen laughter escaped me as I hastily tied my hair at the nape of my neck with the hair tie that rested around my wrist.
My forearms laid against my thighs as I leaned forward a bit more, pushing my knees into the brick wall hard enough to cause my flesh to burn. A young woman hurried across the street on her cell phone toward the bar I’d watched almost every night since my life had been turned upside down. The woman stopped just as she stepped onto the sidewalk. A broad smile most likely spread across her face as a suave looking man in a dark moto jacket wrapped his arms around her waist, lifted her into the air as his mouth met hers, and they spun a couple rotations before sitting her back on her feet. The scene before me blurred as hot tears pushed passed my eyelids and raced furiously down my cheeks, dripping onto my chest.
I shoved up from the rickety metal chair. “Christ,” I seethed through gritted teeth as the flesh of my left knee tore open from the rough texture of the brick I’d been pressed against. Yet another round of pain I’d inflicted upon myself, like the universe wasn’t doing a good enough job on its own. The metal chair screeched across the concrete rooftop as I shoved it back far enough to squeeze between it and the makeshift table I’d thrown together from pallet scraps I’d found by the dumpster in the alley beside my building. Being there were only three floors, and I lived on the third, the view from the rooftop to the city below was an easy one to observe. My own personal show almost every night.
Something in my gut forced me to turn around and glance over the edge once more before turning in to drown my sorrows with a bottle of bourbon. A man, in what seemed to be a tailored suit, hurried across the street, much like the woman had before him, a cell phone pressed at his ear. He seemed unraveled. His shirt was untucked on one side, his hair standing wildly as if he’d fingered through the dark locks over and over again. But my eyes didn’t stay on him long enough to get a feel of his phone conversation due to a fast-moving yellow blur catching my eye. A car without headlights was barreling around the corner right toward him. My heart flopped as I screamed at the top of my lungs, “Watch out!” The man glanced up in my direction before his eyes dropped to the car. His phone crashed to the ground as my feet took flight toward the fire escape. The last thing to cross my mind as I hurried down the shaky stairs was how desperately I needed to get to him.