No Edge

Edward looked down below his feet at the thousands of people walking by, at the shiny cars glittering underneath the high noon sun. Would any of them think to look up? Would they see him? It’s always amazing how just one random person happens to look up in the movies where someone is about to jump, screams [it’s usually a woman], and points at the small figure. Edward waited for that moment to happen. Cars streamed through traffic lights down below, an endless hum of energy and rolling tires saturating the air.

Is this what it felt like to be on top of the world? Edward had never been anywhere so high before. All his life he lived on the third floor of some apartment building, climbing up three stories every single day of his life. Going up to the twenty-fifth floor today had been difficult. Halfway up he had to stop to catch his breath. No elevators for this claustrophobic man.

Edward glanced behind him to the black Jansport backpack leaning against the gray ledge. It was half opened. The papers peeking out from his spiral notebook waved in the breeze that cut across the top of the roof. Higher places really were windier. He hadn’t felt this wind when he had gone downstairs earlier to buy some milk and bread. He stepped off of the ledge and squatted down to reach into the bag. His white shirt stuck to his back as the wind came back again. Maybe he shouldn’t have worn white. It was too late to go back and change though. He’d tossed his key out the window. All he had in his bag was the notebook, the milk, and the loaf of bread. Tiger bread. He always had to have tiger bread before he went to sleep. Its chewy, soft texture comforted him.

He pulled the loaf out and broke off the crusty end. The ends were always too hard. Sometimes, if he went to the bakery at the right time, usually around eight in the morning, he would catch the baker putting out the fresh bread. Those tiger loaves were nice and soft all around. He threw the end to the other side of the roof. Immediately a few seagulls and pigeons descended and began pulling it apart. Bits of white flew up in the air. He watched the feast for a few minutes, all the while pulling out bits of the loaves innards and stuffing them into his mouth. There was something about plain bread that was exciting to him. Most people didn’t understand. It had its own sweet, soft flavor that melted into his mouth. Whoever said bread was boring was wrong.

But it didn’t matter.

Edward folded the bread back into its plastic bag and put it back into his backpack. He took out the carton of milk and drank half of it. Skim milk. He only ever drank skim milk, because he was trying to lose weight. He put the milk down next to his bag and took out the notebook, opening it to the middle of the book. He was looking for a specific page, the one with the pictures and writing on it.

He found the page and put the open notebook on the ground. There wasn’t any wind, which was good, because the page was actually just a sheet of paper trapped in the notebook. If the wind picked up it would blow away. He read the page and then stood up.

It was a little silly, but he adjusted his shirt as he climbed onto the ledge again. He made sure the creases were straightened and pulled his pants up to his waist. He ran his hand through his straight brown hair. The sun burned his forehead and burned the back of his head as he looked down. The lunchtime rush was almost over. People were flocking back to their air conditioned cubicles and plexiglass walls of confinement. He took a step and went to join them.

A breeze passed through, picking up the sheet of paper from on top of the notebook. Its words flew away, to be read by the little girl in the elementary school playground who found it  and picked it up. It said, “My name is Edward. There is no edge. That is why I am leaving this world and going on to the next one. Goodbye.”

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