A Short Story

It happened the day after.

I was alone on my lunch break, sitting at my favorite fountain underneath the shade of one of the hundreds of honey locusts as the Eiffel Tower stood in front of me like Anouk Aimée. White sand surrounded me. I wasn’t hungry.

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While I picked the arugula from my newspaper stand sandwich, I observed two little boys running around their indifferent mothers as they threw rocks at one another's nubile feet. The sight of them made me think of him. Quickly, I thought of fresh lavender — as I have trained myself to do — and looked up at the highest point of the Eiffel Tower. She stood 984 feet, yet it looked out of place that day with its three shades of bronze against the iris colored sky behind it. I was wondering how many times she received a fresh coat of paint and who did such a job when I saw a tiny speck begin to fall from the top platform.

I knew it was a person.

I found out later it was a young woman — 29, two years older than me. And I knew that she had killed herself. The only way to fall from the Eiffel Tower is to climb. I put my sandwich down and watched the body fall, rigid and still, rotating slowly forward in a circular motion as her blonde hair bloomed forth like a budding sunflower. Screams started behind me, but I didn’t scream, for as I watched her body plummet to the Earth, never taking my eyes off of her, I thought of him and how he had broken his promise to meet me. I saw the letter he had written next to the razor that sat on the edge of the bathtub, filled with hot water, candles lit, with my sullenly cliché note beside his. I saw this as clear as I saw the woman hit the ground like a soft tomato and splatter.

After the ambulances came and took what was left of her, life had not stopped, only hers had. She had become a whisper in the library of the living. I decided to go home. I texted my boss on the metro that I would need the afternoon off. She was fine with it. When I arrived home, I found his letter. I read it one last time, then burned it.

I drew a long bath.

Mitchell Duran is a freelance writer. He earned a Master’s in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University in 2019. Find more work at Mitchellduran.com

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