All Stories, General Fiction

Heights by Darren Gray

As I stood on the top of the tower and looked down, I wondered if I should jump.
I decided against it, for the fourth night in a row, and headed downstairs for a cup of tea. I wanted tea more than I wanted death, so things worked out great, all things considered.
I couldn’t help thinking, though, while I sipped on my tea, that, right at that moment, I could have been a bloody, broken pile on the concrete path, perfectly, precisely between the two spot-lights aimed up at the tower.
After finishing my tea, I went to bed and, before I feel asleep, thought: maybe tomorrow, then.

I’ve never liked heights, so the fact that I want to end it all by jumping off a tower seems kind of strange to me. Still, I have no control over it – it’s stuck in my mind now and offing myself in any other way simply seems wrong. I’ve considered so many ways of doing it – slashing my wrists, stepping in front of a train, wading into a lake and floating, supine, until my clothes get their fill of the water and I get pulled down, down, down…but, no, falling to my death seems like the best choice, for some, inexplicable, reason. I could sit here and say that I don’t like the idea of of being found naked (I guess I could wear clothes, but it seems like an odd thing to do) in a shockingly and sickeningly red tub, or I could say that suffocation is one of the things I hate the most (which is true), but there’s no real reason behind it. Sometimes things just feel right. Who knows why? Not I.

Earlier tonight – about two hours ago at around one in the morning, if you care to know – I was walking down the empty high-street and I couldn’t help but notice how beautiful it was, when it was all devoid of people. I felt like I was the only person in the world and, for once, the world looked so clean and calm, all lit by lamplight, yellowed world here, shadowed world there, that my heart just about burst with the feeling of peace rising in it.

I walked through the entire town and didn’t so much as hear a car. The only sound was the soft thump of my feet on the pavement and, occasionally, my own breath when I needed to exhale with more force.

It was the happiest I’d been in so long. I felt no anxiety, no fear, no doubt, no anger, no apathy, even – just contentment. I suppose it was the closest to meditation I had and have ever come. No I, no other, no thoughts, just pure, unadulterated feeling. Why is it so hard to just experience things without a mind getting in the way? Why is the self always overshadowing everything?

I’m trying to describe it, but it’s all after the fact, I suppose – just a dim, dim shadow. You just had to be there, I suppose, but, I guess, if you had been, it would have ruined it for both of us. Ah well. I walked and was content and that is my story. Strange that, at the end of my life, that’s the story I want to tell. So many things have happened to me that I wanted to tell you about, before I took my walk, but they all pale in comparison with the dim light on the street, the light breeze, the supreme, stunning silence, the feeling of everything on my skin and in my skin and through my skin.

I wanted to talk about the break-up – how I thought I’d built my life on rock and not sand – and how I wound up all hopeless and lonesome and tired. I wanted to tell you about the suffering of the world. But now, I guess, I don’t. I just want to talk about that street, forever, maybe – how the buildings looked hard and soft at the same time, and how the sky looked like fresh, black ink on a page, glimmering and shining, beautiful before the inevitable drying. I want to tell you about the odd star in the ink, looking cold and warm, at the same time, so small, so far, so eye-catching.

I want to tell you about how the air was so refreshing, as it went down my throat and nostrils, that I felt relaxed and energised, both at the same time, and felt like I had the energy to keep walking forever and ever without ever stopping for sleep or rest. You had to be there. You had to experience for it for yourself, I suppose. And you would have had to have stopped thinking, stopped being yourself, and just experienced it, otherwise it would have been just another street on just another night. Oh well.

And now I’m back on top of the tower and I’m not so scared or sad now. I’m still going to jump, maybe. Or maybe I’ll have a cup of tea instead. I haven’t decided yet. I just looked down at the spot-lights and they are so pretty. I love dim-lighting, and as I look down at the face of the tower below, the brown looks more like yellow, which I find so wonderful and so beautiful.

It’s strange that I keep finding the world so beautiful every time I think about leaving it.

It’s strange that I keep finding it so ugly and terrible every time I decide to stay in it.

If only I could walk that street forever, I keep thinking. If only I could keep walking and, every time I look at my watch, see that it’s still one in the morning. That would be heaven, I think.

I guess I don’t want to die. I guess I don’t want to live. I guess I just want to escape. It’s a strange thing, isn’t it? To want to escape from life and death at the same time?

I don’t think I’m going to jump. I might go and walk that street again. Maybe I can find myself back where I was.

Or maybe I’ll go and have a cup of tea.

I think I’ll have a cup of tea first.


Darren Gray

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

6 thoughts on “Heights by Darren Gray”

  1. Hi Darren,
    The idea of everything being a contradiction is clever and thought provoking.
    An interesting piece of story telling!
    All the very best my friend.


  2. Dark with a glimmer of hope at the end. I particularly like the line “ It’s strange that I keep finding the world so beautiful every time I think about leaving it.”


  3. Heights make me queasy. I’ve been on a plane only once in life, and I ain’t going back up again. My phobia “heightened” my concern for the MC. The good thing there, of course, is that you made him worth rooting for.


  4. I found the juxtapositions beautiful, Darren. All the ways of offing oneself—you really took me there—and then that serene scene on the empty street so filled with lush detail. And that question about the mind getting in the way of our experience.


  5. Thanks, guys! I wasn’t entirely certain what people would make of it – I’ve had a few people specifically mention the tea and I thought that it might be too blunt of a reference to Camus’ ‘Stranger’. I guess, to me, it was important to have the tea at the beginning – as an alternative to acting – and then again at the end, even though he’d found, in a way, his salvation through the endless walking of the street. He still chose to be inactive despite the obviously positive and wonderful nature of his potential action. I guess the interesting thing to me was a human proclivity to do nothing – even to save themselves. That’s just what I took away from it, though – death of the author and all that!


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