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Don't Let Go

Updated: Mar 4, 2021

Holding onto the edge of the cliff is difficult enough. Knowing that there is nothing to keep you falling into the bottomless pit beneath you. Knowing that nothing stands between you and death but your own strength. Knowing that the reason you’re dangling from the cliff is because you don’t have your own strength.


Holding onto the edge of the cliff with one hand.


One finger.


One hand and one finger on that hand that keeps you alive, one chance that you know is your last, one chance that is your life.


If you let go, you’ll die.


But you don’t have any other choice.


That cliff is the final blow, the final weakness that you just couldn’t overcome, and you wonder why you even tried.


Why didn’t you just give up on life? Life defeated you anyway, why did you have to suffer? Why can’t it just be over?


You want it to be over.


I want it to be over. I don’t want to feel this pain anymore, don’t want to know that I am different. I don’t want to live everyday knowing that life isn’t worth it, knowing that I’m hanging on the edge of the cliff by a finger that is slipping and you want it to slip, you want to fall, you want to stop having to try, to care, to act like you care.


But then someone reaches out and helps you climb over the edge of the cliff and you’re left looking down at the bottomless crevasse beneath you thinking that it could have ended. Thinking that now you’ll just have to endure the pain again.


I hate that feeling.


Hope Raelene, at your service. Well, actually, that’s a lie. I probably hate you, or at least I would if I knew you. I hate everyone, because everyone hates me. That’s just the truth.


My name doesn’t mean anything anymore. Hope is stupid and weak. People who hope are weak because they can’t face reality.


I can because I don’t hope. I don’t wish and I don’t pray and I sure as hell don’t hope.


Hope is bullshit. Just like the idea that my parents are watching over me, which is what everyone tells me.


Complete bull.


They’re dead.


They’ve been dead for three years.


And me? I’ve been sent from foster home to foster home, thrown back and forth like a hot potato, like a piece of rotten food, trash, something that no one wants to touch.


I have been touched by the hands of evil, but I’m not evil.


I just don’t want to be here anymore. People just associate that with evil because “life is a blessing”.


Maybe for some people.


For me, it’s a curse.


* * *


The car pulls up in front of another building. It’s not a house, it looks more like an orphanage, dark and gloomy. This is my next home. I guess they can’t trust me with a family anymore after my recent attempts to rid myself of a life that I don’t want. I don’t understand why they can’t just let me go, no one wants me to stay anymore, there’s nothing worth living for anymore. Besides, it’s my life. I have the right to do what I want with it. We have the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” according to the Declaration of Independence. Well I don’t want this life anymore, I have no more happiness in my life. Why won’t they just let me end it? They fight against me, but for what reason? They are making me more miserable by keeping me trapped here, like a bird in a cage. Like a demon in heaven; like an angel in hell.


“Come on, Raelene, get out of the car.”


I glare up at the social worker, the face worn down with exhaustion. What right do they have to be exhausted? They are not being forced to live a life that they don’t want, a life that wasn’t their choice. I didn’t ask to be brought into this world, but I ask if I can leave it and I am denied? It’s not fair.


Nothing is fair.


“That’s not my name,” I say to the social worker.


She sighs and rolls her eyes. “Then what is your name?”


I tilt my head to the side as if considering her question and look up at the sky before looking back at her. “I don’t have one.”


She raises her eyebrows. “Is that so?”


“Yeah.” I nod, keeping my tone light as if I were saying ‘yeah’ to an ordinary question like ‘do you want pizza?’ or something.


“Then what,” she says skeptically, “am I supposed to tell your new guardian?”


“Tell them my name is… ‘it’, like in the book A Child Called It.”


She crosses her arms and stares at me, when she speaks she emphasizes every word. “That’s not funny, you’re not being abused, you know. We are trying to help you and I would appreciate if you made our work a little easier.”


I meet her stare. “Really? Well, here’s a proposition. You let me go where I want to go, and you won’t have to deal with me anymore.”


She narrows her eyes. “No.”


“Why?”


She ignores me and instead starts walking up toward the door.


I follow her. “So, who am I going to now?”


“You are going to be staying with Ms. Joanne. She specializes in helping kids like you and has offered to take you under her care for a few months.”


“Is she old?”


“Raelene!”


“What? I just asked if she was old.”


“No, actually,” she glances at me. “She’s quite young.”


“Oh.” I nod again. “Cool.”


We reach the door and step inside, where the social worker leads me up ten flights of steps and into a dark hallway. She knocks on a door, and after a few seconds it opens and we step inside.


I blink rapidly, almost blinded by the brightness of the room. The walls are a bright sunflower yellow and the curtains a bright blue. I look around before realizing that the social worker is gesturing for me to sit down next to her at a small table. I stare at the smooth wood surface, purposely avoiding looking up at the woman who is to be my next “guardian”, but the social worker nudges me with her elbow and clears her throat loudly, so I look up.


The woman is small, but pretty, I guess, with wavy brown hair and soft brown eyes. But the way she looks at me… like I’m a piece of glass or thin ice, something that could shatter if you handle it too roughly.


I hate her already. She seems too… flimsy. Someone that will bend to compensate for my “needs”, someone that doesn’t really do anything for themselves.


“Hi,” she says kindly, speaking not to me but to the social worker.


“Hello, Ms. Joanne, this is Hope Raelene.”


I clear my throat but she ignores me.


“Yes, I guessed as much, Mrs. Edwin.”


Mrs. Edwin, I think I’ve heard her name before, I know her, obviously, but I guess I didn’t pay attention to her.


No wonder she hates me so much.


“How are you, Hope?”


I shrug. “Fine.”


Mrs. Edwin clears her throat again.


“How are you?” I say stiffly, crossing my arms and raising my eyebrows.


“I’m doing alright,” she gives me a nervous smile. I don’t smile back.


“Well you’ve already filled out most of the paperwork,” Mrs. Edwin says, sliding a pen and a sheet of paper across the table. “I just need you to sign this, confirming that she was placed under your care.”


“Okay, of course.” Ms. Joanne smiles again and does as Mrs. Edwin tells her. I would have broken the pen in Mrs. Edwin’s face if I were her.


Ms. Joanne glances up at me before she signs the paper, as if checking that I am really the girl she offered to foster. I bet she’s having second thoughts. Maybe this time she’ll let me go for good.


“Alright,” she hands the paper back to Mrs. Edwin. “Well now that that’s taken care of, I think we’ll be fine. Thank you.”


“Thank you Ms. Joanne,” she nods, and then turns to me as she stands. “Be good. I expect I’ll see you soon, but I will keep my fingers crossed.” She turns and leaves. I watch as she disappears through the door. Hopefully I won’t see her again. Hopefully I won’t see anyone ever again.


* * *


“It’s always a relief when they leave,” Ms. Joanne says, gesturing at the door.


I look up at her quickly, tearing my eyes away from the table and losing count of the ridges in its surface.


Yes, I was counting.


“What?” I whisper, not believing the words that she said.


“It’s a relief when they leave,” she shrugs. “It’s always more tense when they’re here, they either don’t like the kids or don’t want to let them go.”


“Oh.” My eyebrows knit together as I think.


“I’m guessing you’ve never heard that before.”


I shake my head.


She smiles, giving me a small laugh. “Well, I want this home to be different, for whatever reason you didn’t like your other ones, I want you to like it here.”


I bite lip. I really want to tell her that it won’t make a difference, what home I’m in, but I can’t. I don’t know her. Yes, she seems nice and maybe… different, but so are the rest of them. And then I get to know them and it’s just awful.


I wonder how long it will take her to hate me. The record is two days. I ran away from that family.


Just like I ran from all the others.


“Well, would you like me to show you your room?”


“Sure.” I pick up my trash bag, filled only with a few clothes and a book. My favorite book, actually. The book my mother gave me and would read to me.


Before she died, of course.


I haven’t read it since.


I follow her down a hallway and she opens a door on the left and leads me through it. I look around as I drop my bag and find that the yellow walls in this room are not quite as sickening as the ones in the other. I can live with this.


“Well?” she looks nervous again.


I fight the urge to say I hate it, because I want to give her a chance. And I don’t want to break her, at least, not if I can help it. “I like it. Thanks, Ms. Joanne.”


“Oh, don’t call me that. It’s too formal.”


I take a sharp breath. If she asks me to call her mom… well she won’t get that far.


“What should… should I call you?”


“Call me Mary, please.”


I exhale slowly, relieved. I don’t know why she would have asked me to call her mom, but when you live like I have lived, you learn to jump to the worst conclusions.


But often times you find that they’re really not the worst. There’s a lot worse things that can happen, we just don’t think of them until they’ve already happened.


Trust me.


I would know.


* * *


That night, after a nice, and quiet, dinner with her, I mean, Mary, I excuse myself and slink away to my bedroom. The bed is soft and underneath the window, which I push open and sit with my knees folded up to my chest and my arms wrapped around them, and stare out at the sky. It is dark and here, where there is little to nothing, I can see the stars. I haven’t seen them in a while. It is as though they’ve been hiding from me, refusing to guide me, but that’s crap. That’s complete shit. Stars can’t guide you. Stars don’t just appear when you need them, or when something good is happening. They’re just stars. Just big balls of gas billions and billions and billions of miles away, millions of light years away, and most of them are dead now. Most of them no longer shine, we are just getting the picture of when they were born.


We haven’t caught up to them yet.


But thinking of stars and guidance is hope.


Hope is weak.


I don’t hope.


I’ve missed the stars, though. While they mean nothing, they mean… something. I’ve been in so many different places, seen so many different skies, but the stars… they’re just always there, whether I can see them or not. Even the moon hides sometimes, disappearing during its orbit around Earth, but the stars don’t change. They’re always there, and in my life nothing is always there. Nothing is always the same. I’ve seen cities and country sides and rural and urban and suburban areas, and especially in the city you can’t see the stars. No one ever sleeps in the city.


I hear a door close down the hall and look at the clock she put on the nightstand. 11:00. It’s been such a long day. First leaving my old foster home, going to the center, and then being shipped off again.


Being shipped off again.


I’m not a person. I’m not a human being. Just take one look at my life and how I live it, how I am treated. Look at the phrases that are used to describe my being moved about. I’m not human. I don’t know exactly what I am. I’m just not a person anymore.


I am an object, something that can be thrown away or tossed aside, something that you can take and bring back, trade back in when you get sick of it. I am just a ‘thing’, I really am just an ‘it’. I am a package, that is shipped off again and again and again because I’m always at the wrong place. I’m always sent to the wrong place and the people there don’t want me, so they ship me off again. First I go back to the store, the center, and then they figure out where they think I am supposed to go. But they don’t know. They have no idea where they want me to be, where they want me to go. They don’t care. I am just a thing, an it. I am just something that they are forced to ship off again and again and again. I am the thing that they get paid for, I am a job that someone always has to take.


I blink back the tears. I can’t cry. I don’t cry. Crying is weak. Crying is for babies and people who can’t handle things. People who can’t handle not being important, or wanted. I can handle that. I know I’m not important. I know I’m not wanted. They can pretend all they want, but it’s the truth. They can’t hide it. They don’t try to hide it. They just don’t care.

I tuck my short brown hair being my ear. I cut it at the first house, all the way down to the scalp. I was nearly bald. They got rid of me after that.


My life has never been easy. It has never been something that I enjoyed. At least, not since my parents died, and it’s like my life then never existed. My life starts when the foster care started. That’s all I can really remember, because I forced everything else away from me.


Everything that was good I fled from. I couldn’t handle it.


They wonder why.


All they ever ask is why.


Why?


Why do you hate your life?


Why do you hate everyone in it?


Why do you want to die?


I don’t tell them why. If they can’t figure it out on their own, then they sure as hell are stupid. If they can’t figure out why I don’t want to live in a world so devoid of anything close to happiness, then they were never truly happy. Then they never had two parents who cared for them. They never had two parents who loved each other and you because everyone else that they knew or were close to, their relatives, their friends, had either left them or were dead.


Now my parents are dead too, and I have no one else. No one but myself.


And they wonder why.


It’s so stupid.


I could tell them, of course. I could tell them, and they wouldn’t have to ask.


But what’s the point in telling them something that they already know?


What’s the point in wasting words and breath for something that won’t make a difference.


All of the words in the world couldn’t bring my parents back.


All of the words in the world couldn’t make my life okay again.


All of the words in the world couldn’t make me happy.


* * *


She enrolled me in school. In school. School. Like with people. People. People who are important. People who are cared about. People who are people, human, not objects, not things, not its. People. People my own age, who don’t understand things that I understand because they have never had to deal with them. They have never known what it is like to be unwanted, to be thrown away, to be shipped off to place after place.


School. Where I was bullied and made fun of for the past two years.


Yes, two years. Not three. I stopped going to school the third year, because I moved around too much. I was there one day and gone the next, everywhere I went. There was no point in enrolling me in school if I wasn’t going to stay, besides, no foster parent wanted to deal with it after the horror stories the social worker told them. She said she only told them because it was the truth, and they had to know the truth.


But do you want to know the truth?


There is no truth in my life.


But this woman is so intent upon me getting an education, even after only being there a day, that she has rolled me into an environment that I am foreign to. She won’t take no for an answer. I tried.


“Hope, let’s go! We’re going to be late!” Ms. Joanne, or Mary, I guess, calls from the kitchen.


“I’m coming!” I yell, rolling my eyes. At least she gave me a day to “settle in”. It doesn’t matter, though. I’ll be out of here soon one way or another.


“Hope!” she calls again, this time appearing in the door way and shaking her head when she finds me sitting on the bed, staring at my hands. “Are you ready?”


I look up at her. “I don’t want to go. You can’t make me go.”


“Yes, I can and I will.” She puts her hands on her hips, and it startles me. She reminds me of my mother.


I try again. “I don’t want to go.”


“You have to go to school. You have to try.”


“I’m done trying. I’ve tried too much. They’ll all hate me, once the see this.” I hold up my wrist, showing her the scars. My tone does not imply that I want to be pitied. It’s just the truth.


Whatever mangled version of truth it may be.


“Wear a long sleeve shirt.”


“That won’t hide it.”


“Then act like they’re not there. Act like everything’s… normal. Trust me, they won’t know the difference.”


I stare at her. What does she mean? How does she know? Is she… was she like me? Does she possibly understand more than I think she understands? I push the thought away. She can’t be. People like her never are.


They just like to act like it.


She’s right, though. People don’t notice. If they think that you’re… normal, they’ll believe that you’re normal, even if you’re not. They’ll believe you when you lie and say that you’re fine, when you lie and say that you didn’t make the lines yourself. Because you wouldn’t do that, and because they think they know you, they’ll believe it.


They’ll believe anything.


She doesn’t break eye contact with me, and after a few seconds I look away. “Okay,” I say quietly. I can’t let her get close. I can’t let her break me, so I’ll go along with it, and I’ll run away from school.


I follow her out of the room, and she makes sure I’m out of the apartment first, probably so I can’t lock myself inside. She’s smart, because that’s what I would have done.


Then I’d have jumped out of the window.


“Here,” she hands me a backpack after she locks the door. “You’ll need this.”


I force myself to smile. “Thanks.”


“Well, you can’t go to school without a backpack,” Mary smiles back.


“Wouldn’t be the first time.” I mutter under my breath. She doesn’t hear me, and we take the stairs down to the ground floor. Ten floors. I contemplate it. There’s no way I would survive a ten story drop, but is that how I’d want to die? No, not really. I’d rather go in a more… I don’t know, noble way. I’m not going to be picky about it, though.


The car ride, while short, seems long. We don’t talk, and I’m glad. I don’t feel like talking, anyway. I was going to wear my typical “first day at a new school” outfit, which is made up of ripped jeans and a t-shirt, a sort of edgy, leave me alone, look, but Mary switched it out with a new outfit that she bought for me. So instead of sending the ‘leave me alone’ vibe, I’m sending the ‘I’ll be your best friend’ vibe.


We pull up to the school, and unlike the apartment building, it’s bright and somehow inviting.


Almost.


“You can drop me off, I can deal with stuff inside.” I start to open the door, even though the car’s still in motion, but she’s put the child lock in place. Smart.


“I have to go in with you and sign some papers. It won’t take long. I’ll try not to embarrass you,” she winks, acting motherly again. I bite my lip.


She won’t break me.


Besides, it’s not her who’ll embarrass me. It’s me who’ll embarrass me.


Me and who I am. The scars that I can’t hide. The hidden truth.


When she finally pulls into a parking spot I wait with crossed arms for her to unlock my door. I can’t believe me child- locked me into the car. Who does that?


Apparently, someone who thinks like a suicidal foster kid.


She makes me wait for her to walk into the school, and I look down at the ground instead of up at the students. I don’t want to see their curious faces. I don’t want to know them.


The meeting with the principal is short, and when the guidance counselor asks if I need to meet with the phycologist regularly, or at all, Mary doesn’t even hesitate before saying no. This too, startles me. Most times the foster parents make me see the phycologist, because they themselves don’t want to deal with my problems.


I am given a locker and a schedule, and Mary leaves after the principal offers to take me to my first class.


“Good luck,” she smiles at me again.


For a second, my defenses, my walls, fall, and I smile back. Not a forced smile. A smile, smile.

“Thanks.” I mean it, she’s trying so hard, but then I remember.


She can’t break me.


I won’t let her.


I take a deep breath and after she walks out the front doors, the principal gives me a clearly forced, and fake, smile. I can tell he doesn’t know what to say to me. I smirk. Finally, someone who acts normal.


“Um… well your first class is just down the hall, in Mr. Lincoln’s room. He’ll be your English teacher.


“Ok, thanks.” I look down again as the principal, who I guess I should start calling by his actual name, Mr. Smith, pushes open the door to the classroom. I bite my lip as I step inside, and force myself to look up as the class goes silent. There are about twenty students, half of them girls and half of them boys. And all forty eyes are staring straight at me, including the teacher, so forty-two eyes, I guess.


“Mr. Lincoln,” Mr. Smith places a hand on my shoulder, and I fight the urge to shrug it off.

Act normal. Act normal and they won’t know the difference.


“This is our new student, Hope Raelene.” I try to smile, and I hope that it doesn’t come out as the grimace I think it did.


“Good morning, Hope,” Mr. Lincoln reaches out a hand to me, and I shake it.


“Hi,” says someone in the rows of students, and as everyone turns from me to her, I find her. She smiles, not meanly, but genuine. I smile back. Slowly everyone else says hello, but I don’t pay attention to their faces. I just focus on hers, even when I look away. She looks like me, in a way, with short brown hair and a similar face structure, but her eyes are blue, not brown. Mr. Smith leaves, wishing me luck, and Mr. Lincoln tells me that I am welcome to sit in whatever empty seat I would like. There’s one next to the girl, and she gestures at me to take it, so I do. When I sit down, people are still staring, but luckily they look away when Mr. Lincoln starts the lesson.


“I’m Lily,” she whispers, “Lily Peters.”


“Hi, I’m Hope.” I whisper back. Then I remember she already knows that. “I know you know my name, I just felt like I should say it myself.”


“You should, I’m glad you did. I don’t feel that you actually know someone until they introduce themselves.”


I smile again, but not knowing what else to say besides ‘yeah’, I listen to Mr. Lincoln.


“Our next lesson will be on fiction and a little poetry, analyzing what authors’ mean in their work.” Many kids groan at this next assignment, but I find myself looking forward to it. I haven’t been in school for a while, and a part of me, a stupid and weak part of me, missed it.


* * *


I have survived my first day of school, and the outcome isn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I think Mary is surprised to find me still there when she picks me up at the end of the day.


“How was school?” she asks.


“It was okay.”


“Did you make any friends?”


“I guess.”


“How do you guess?”


“One girl was nice to me and actually talked to me.”


“Well, I would call that a friend.” Mary chuckles, and I look down at my hands, trying not to smile.


She can’t break me.


“Do you have any homework?”


“No, they didn’t give any today,” which is true, not like when I would lie and say I had nothing to do because I didn’t feel like doing it.


“Well, that’s perfect!”


“Why?”


“Because I thought we could fix up your room a bit. I know it’s probably not what you would like, so whatever you want, within reason, you can have.”


“Ok, sounds… good.” I want to say ‘great’, but I haven’t changed that much.


Back at the apartment, I get to pick between pillows, wall art, and bed sheets until the room actually looks a little more like home. I don’t know why she’s doing all this, because surely she knows that I’ll be gone soon. No matter what gone means. We eat a dinner of pizza from the local pizza place because she doesn’t feel like cooking, and then I excuse myself and go to my newly decorated room. I pick up a book from school and turn to a random page, reading the words out of order, feeling restless. There’s a soft knock on the door and I jump before Mary pushes it open a little.


“Can I come in?”


“Sure,” I shrug. I don’t want to talk, but I don’t care enough to say no.


She sits down next to me on the bed. “Is everything okay?”


“Yeah, everything’s fine,” I get up and cross to the bookshelf on the pretense of putting the book away. “Why?” You always have to ask why, because if they’re just asking because they feel like they have to, they’ll brush away the question.


“You disappeared right after dinner, I just wanted to make sure everything was alright.”


“Ok.”


“And I wanted to talk to you.”


“What about?”


“Things that you probably don’t want to talk about.”


“What are you going to tell me?”


“What?”


“If I tell you something you have to tell me something. It’s only fair.”


I wait for her to reject the proposition, saying that because she’s my foster mom she doesn’t have to tell me anything. But she doesn’t. I guess that maybe she wants to be closer to me than my other foster parents.


But she can’t break me. I won’t let her.


“Fair enough. But I get to start.”


I nod.


“What are you so scared of? I see you flinch every time I touch you, every time I smile at you and every time I look at you. You’re scared of something.”


I look down. “Human contact, I guess.”


“I don’t think that’s it.”


I’m silent for a moment. “I… I’m scared of getting close to someone and then losing them… again.”


“After your parents, you mean?”


I nod. I don’t want to say the words. After a moment’s silence I ask the question that has been bugging me since I had a conversation with her after Mrs. Edwin left.


“Why do you seem to know everything that I’m thinking, everything I want to do, and how do you seem to know what it feels like?”


I see the light in her kind eyes falter for a second, a dark cloud seeming to obscure it. Some dark memory that has been kept hidden for so long.


“Because… because I do know what it feels like. I know what you want to do to yourself because… I did too, once. When I was about your age. I was a foster child too, I’d always been. My parents abandoned me when I was born and… I didn’t want to live anymore. When I was older I realized how wrong I was about everything, about life and the people in it, and I decided that I would devote my life to helping kids like me, kids who thought that all of the meaning in life had disappeared. I haven’t fostered many kids, but the ones I have… they didn’t want to stay. They had either liked their old families or didn’t want to be anywhere near me, either because I reminded them of something they were running from or because I was too… different. You reminded me of myself more than any of the others did. Your outlook on life, your unwillingness to let people close or to accept others reminds me of myself, and I want to help you.”


I turn around and face her. “Really? That’s all… it’s true?”


She nods. “It’s true. I wouldn’t lie to you. You don’t need any more of that.”


I press my lips together. “No, I do not.”


“Hope,”


“Yeah?”


“I know that you’ve heard this a thousand times…”


“What?”


“Why?”


My face turns cold and stony again and I turn away. “You know why.”


“No, I really don’t. Everyone has a different why.”


“What was your why?”


I hear her inhale sharply. “Because I didn’t have the strength to turn my back on things, why I was abandoned, why no one had wanted me. I couldn’t turn away from the past, and it haunted me. I didn’t want to endure it anymore.”


I don’t say anything.


“And your ‘why’ is...?”


I take a deep breath. “Because I don’t belong. I’m not wanted, and I’m not human. I am just… just a thing… just an ‘it’.” I fight the tears again. Shaking my head, I continue. “I had a life, and now that life is gone. It’s like it never existed, like I just came into being the… thing I am now. I’m not happy anymore. I don’t want to be here. I don’t hope and I don’t love and I don’t feel because it’s weak.”


She can’t break me.


She can’t break me.


Yet in one moment, one question and one answer, she has.


She has broken me.


My armor is gone, my walls have deteriorated, my world is… different. Gone. I don’t know how. I have strengthened my armor, my walls, my world, for years. For three years it is all that I have done, all that I have focused on. Building the walls so that they can never break, so that no one can ever get in. Building them so it will be easier to let go. I realize now that I’ve been hiding, cutting off connections and keeping my distance from people to make it easier to let go. To make it easier to end the pain and the misery. I’m not strong, for not hoping, for not loving, for not wanting to stay. I’m weak. But even though my armor has fallen, I am still weak. That won’t change.

“Hope,” Mary says quietly, and I turn again. She holds out her hand to me, and I step closer to her.


“What?”


She doesn’t say a word, but instead rolls up the sleeve of her blouse to reveal thin scars. I look down at my own arm, and pull up my sleeve. We compare our scars, our battle wounds. She’s telling the truth. I can believe her.


“I’m holding onto a cliff, and I’m falling. And every time I’m ready to… to fall someone helps me over the edge. Please… don’t be that person. I don’t think I could handle it if someone helped me over the edge again.” I’m fighting so hard against the tears, now.


“Hope…”


“Please. Please.” Despite my efforts, a tear falls down, down, down, into the dark crevasse beneath me. Into the fate that awaits me.


“I… I can’t not be that person.”


My brown eyes meet hers. “I… I thought that you of all people would understand. I can’t help myself from falling. I’m hanging on by a finger, not even that. A fingertip, and I need to fall. I need to let go. I need it to end. Why can’t you, of all people, accept that?” my breathing is quickening, and the tears are falling harder. The pain and the hopelessness that I am feeling, the terror of being pulled over the edge again and forced to stay… “Please,” I whisper. “Please don’t make me stay. I can’t… I need to let go. I’m falling and I can’t hold on anymore.”


“Hope…” Mary doesn’t try to take my hand, doesn’t try to hide my scars, doesn’t try to speak words of comfort, doesn’t try to pull me over the edge, doesn’t try to make me stay. She just whispers three words.


Don’t let go.”

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