'Say Jump' by Bethany Anderson


Crowds gather; collected noises in the street. Bustling and bristling, magnets for attention, the best advertisement in the world. Roll up, roll up, people are here, something is about to happen. Roll up, roll up, morbid fascination and melodrama enough to last your gossip all week.
Several feet below, my predicament is a form of macabre entertainment. The man on the roof; an eternal dilemma. Send in the paramedics, the police, the priests. Fingers pointing, voices shouting. Through afternoon fog cameras flash, blurring the view, small dots on my retina. Everything upside down. Fluorescent yellow jostles brief cases, handbags, school uniforms, woolly jumpers, suits and tracksuits away from the building. There is nothing to see here. But there is a man on the roof, I think he ’s going to jump. He is, look, hes going to jump. Or hes just going to fall. Gasps are loud from mass lungs. His foot. It slipped. Watch out, stay back, theres nothing to see here.
Words of wisdom from a megaphone, drifting upward in a gust of litter. Closer to the edge and vowels are barely recognisable. Behind a police line do not cross, safety in numbers on the road. Traffic stops and stares. This is what it comes to. Seconds away from scarring minds, millimetres away from staining concrete, just a jiffy from judgement. What scares is mortality, the instant that turns on floodlights, exposing dancers as make up and sequins, reducing clowns to wigs and sponge noses. The dancing bear is just an animal. The world is a stage but this big top is gaudy canvas. Masquerading as a masquerade.
Prepare to be amazed; the excuse for being late for that meeting, a reason to get drunk tonight, a badly written entry on your LiveJournal.
Please step away from the edge. Please come down from the roof. You say jump. I say how high. Go on, jump. How high do you think you ’ll bounce?
Prepare to be astounded. The moment you
ve all been waiting for. This is some fun for you, some light entertainment, disbelief suspended temporarily. Your dark fixation satisfied, you must tell all your friends.
Do not try this at home.
Police line do not cross. Cameras flash. Audience cheer.
Ladies and gentlemen, tonight for your delight: the man on the roof.

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