He looked down and thought to himself “That’s a long way to fall”. But what could go wrong? Just the parachute not deploying, him missing the landing target way off and ending up in a bunch of high tension electric cables, or his heart failing on him entirely out of the shock of pleasure that he dies instantaneously from a heart attack causing all three of his fears to simultaneously happen at once.
He did not know why exactly he was doing this. He was never a thrill seeker. Back in college, on a trip to Universal Studios, he was actually the one that his then college roommate now best friend, Ayden, had to repetitively convince to get on a thrill ride.
Part of him hoped that he would not survive the fall and that he would miraculously be able to reunite with the two loves of his life, his wife and daughter who he lost in a hit and run incident a year back.
“How long will you be away?”
“A month or so. I just really need some time away from everything, Ayden. To recoup. The past few months have been tough”
“Yea I get it. But don’t go too off the grid. We still need to make sure you’re alive.”
He scoffed. Maybe staying alive really was not what he was going for. The thought of living the rest of his life without Laila and Sara was painful, sometimes quite literally, given his heart condition. He remembered the day he got the call telling him his world was about to collapse in on him, it started out like any other day at the office. He got the call while he was on his way to a meeting, walking under the sun. He remembered that he froze on the spot. Dropped to the ground as he felt every inch of him just freeze, mourning his loss.
He knew that most of his family and friends thought that he had a peculiar, almost insensitive way of dealing with his loss. He had travelled to foreign lands alone, meeting new people, trying out things that he never imagined himself trying. He did not know why their departure had triggered this. Possibly, new experiences were the only worthy void-fillers and he could feel the void they left growing even larger day by day. It started out with him just wanting to see Japan, since Laila had always wanted to go there, during spring to see the Sakuras. But it was as if Laila was in his head, prompting him on this cat and mouse chase, convincing him that she and Sara would be waiting for him at wherever he ended up next.
One country after another, Japan, Myanmar, Uzbekistan, Iran, Armenia, Turkey, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and finally where he was now, Austria. It had been three months since he left home. All the while, Laila’s voice in his head became louder, crying, “Why haven’t you found us yet? Where are you?”
He would walk around the towns and cities he ended up in all day. But as the skies turned into night, a shadow would form over his heart, and he would be enveloped by his tears and would lock himself in his hostel room. And so goes the cycle, day by day. He would sometimes see glimpses of Sara in random little girls he saw on his walks. He would hear Laila’s laughter coming from behind him at random cafes he sat and sipped his coffee at. He imagined them everywhere and everyday but it would never be them. He had over the period of his travels somehow convinced himself that their hit and run was just a hoax and they were actually just travelling the world together, without him just waiting for him to catch up.
He would ignore emails from his office, texts from Ayden, calls from his mother. At one point, he just intentionally left his phone at a café back in Turkey, so he could truly be outside of his family and friends’ radar. All he wanted was to catch up with Laila and Sara.
“You know what I want to do one day?” Laila was under the sheets beside him with the sun shining on her morning messy hair, on her side facing him, while her hand was just circling the center of his collarbone.
“What is that?” he replied as he ran his fingers through her hair, savoring the feel of her at his fingertips.
“I want to skydive. Just jump out of a plane, and leave my survival to fate. To the parachute gods, that they would open my parachute. Or to the goddesses of the wind, so that the wind doesn’t blow me too off course”
“I don’t know why anyone in their right minds would want to do that darling. Human beings are just not meant to be in the air. If we were, we would have wings.”
“I hate you and your common sense and risk aversion,” she said as she placed a passionate kiss on his lips.
This was it. His feet were at the edge of the plane. All he had to do was plunge, thousands of feet towards the ground. He was praying to the parachute gods that they would stop the parachute from opening. He was praying to the goddesses of the wind that they would somehow open a portal mid-air to where Laila and Sara was.
He was convinced that they were somewhere between where the plane and the ground was. After all, he had scoured the grounds for them and they were nowhere. “Please Laila. Be there. Just be there,” he muttered under his breath.
He plunged forward and shouted “Geronimo!”