BANNER

VICTORY

          The call came in on the emergency line.  Suicide attempt in progress.  The call was directed to her.  She grabbed her coat and rushed out to the front of the building.  Sid was waiting for her with the car motor racing.

          "Looks like this one's really desperate.  The cops have been trying to talk her back in for almost twenty minutes.  Ted said she's getting nervous," Sid started filling her in.
          "I don't understand why they wait so long to call us.  It's our job.  We've had the training for this, but they wait till the last minute to send for us.  I hope we're in time."
          "Yeah.  She's so young!  Only about twenty," Sid said.
          "How tragic.  What else did they tell you about her?" inquired Julie.
          "Nothing.  No personal information," Sid told her, "but we know she feels hopeless."
          "I'd say that was obvious."

          The car pulled up in front of the hotel.  Police were still directing people away from the entrance.
          Julie remembered the first time she had gone to assist in a suicide attempt.  The police had argued with her about admittance.  They let her enter barely in time to prevent the young man from shooting a hole through his head.
          Julie hurried to the elevator.  Another officer was there and escorted her to the twelveth floor.  A window was open at the end of the hall and people were standing around not quite sure what to do.  Julie ran over and they stepped aside for her.  She looked out of the window and was struck by the beauty of the girl.  What could have happened to make her consider ending her life this way?

          Julie asked if anyone had gotten any background on the girl.
          "Only her name.  I'ts Laura, get this...Love.  Her last name is Love," the sergeant informed her.
          "Yeah well, looks like she could use a little now," Julie said as she stepped out onto the ledge.
          It was narrower than she imagined it would be, only maybe 2 feet wide.  She looked down and immediately felt her stomach rising.  Good God!  She had to keep the girl from looking down.  Seeing the cars look the size of a cracker would scare anybody!  The people were so small, it was impossible to tell how many were there.  She couldn't understand why they were there, except that people flock toward tragedy.  Julie looked at the girl and was struck once again by her good looks.
          "My name is Julie," she told the girl who was staring at her.
          "Oh yeah?  Pleased to meet ya.  Are you planning to jump too?" she asked sarcastically.
          "No, not this time."
          A minute or so passed in silence.  Then Laura looked back at Julie.  "You can't stop me, you know," she said.
          "No I can't.  Not if you're determined.  But I feel that it might help you if we talked.  Even if you go ahead and jump.  Then you'd know that someone cared enough to listen.  That way you won't be alone.  It would be awful to die alone."
          "What do you know about being alone?  You've probably got a husband and a couple of kids waiting for you at home.  It's getting late.  The sun's going down.  Why don't you just go home and cook dinner for them?  Or are you waiting to see the show too?"
          "Believe it or not Laura, I can understand where you're coming from.  I was there once myself."
          "Sure you were.  I just got that speech from a cop before you got here.  You should have compared notes.  They must have thought it'd work better coming from a woman, huh?" asked Laura.
          Julie watched the wind blowing the girls long blond hair across her face.  My hair looked like that once, she thought as she ran her fingers through her own hair.  It was short and curly now.  She'd gotten it cut when she started working at the center.  It was much easier to take care of.  Less time consuming, and time was so important.  She glanced at the girl again.  Her hair was so blond it was almost white.  The girl was very pretty, maybe an inch or two taller than herself.  It was kind of hard to tell under these circumstances.  "Could I come closer?" Julie asked her.  "I really want to talk."
          There was a strangeness in her voice that seemed to draw the other girl to her.  "Maybe just a few steps," Laura answered.
          As Julie advanced toward her, Laura asked "What did you say your name was?"
          "Julie.  Julie Valentine."
          "Hey, how about that!  We make quite a pair, don't we?  Julie Valentine and Laura Love!  What a happy couple of people.  Has your life always been great, Julie Valentine?"
          "Of course not.  Life never is..."
          "Boy, you can say that again.  But you still don't understand why I'm out here.  And I don't understand why you're out on this ledge with me.  The wind's picking up...  The cops only talked from the window."
          "That's ludicrous!  You can't talk anyone in that way."
          "See!  I knew that's what you wanted to do.  But I must say, at least you've got guts."
          "Of course I don't want you to jump.  That would be one hell of a waste of life!  You could do a lot, if you chose to live.  I did!  But I really do understand...  I work for the Sucide Prevention Center now, but I meant it when I said I was here once.  Right up on a ledge.  I was going to jump once too."
          "Seriously?"
          "Yes.  A couple of years ago.  Tragedy seemed to look for me and single me out.  At least I felt that way."
          "Wow!  And now you're glad you didn't jump, right?  Is this just another sad sob story?" she asked mockingly.
          "I'm afraid not," whispered Julie.
          Laura was getting that feeling again.  Creepy!  "Hey, lady...  Are you okay?"
          "Sure," Julie answered.  "Will you please talk to me Laura?  Shit, what can it hurt?"
          "I guess you're right.  I'm just so tired!  I was engaged, until last week.  Now I'm not.  You might have read about it in the newspaper.  I was going to be Mrs. Marvin Prescott, until he was killed in a plane crash.  It was a private plane.  He was flying home to bring his mother and father here to meet me.  I did meet his parents...  At the funeral for all of them four days ago.  Life is so damn unfair!  For the first time in my life, I wasn't alone!  I loved him so much," she began to sob.  "And he was so good!  Why him?  Always someone that I love.  Maybe that's the answer.  Love.  Laura Love!  Everyone that I love, dies!" she cried.
          "Oh Laura!  How tragic!  Surely though, there must be some happy memories?  Something to make you want to go on living?"
          "No.  I was pregnant too.  That's not why we were going to get married though.  It just kind of made us change the date.  But I lost the baby the day of the funeral.  First Marv, and then our baby.  All in a matter of days.  I have nothing to live for now...  Nothing," her voice trailed off as she looked down.
          "Look at me Laura!" Julie yelled.  "Nothing is worth your life!"
          Laura looked at her.  "Why should I live?" she asked.  "What have I got to look forward to?  Without Marv I'm no good for anything.  I quit my job when we started making wedding plans.  Now I don't even have that.  There's nothing and no one left."
          "There's me...  I care!"
          Laura looked away.
          "No Laura, I do!  I can help you if you let me.  We can help each other!  I can tell you're a good, sensitive person.  You have a lot of love to give to others, and there are so many people who need help, who need someone to try to understand.  You're that kind of person, and let me tell you, they're very rare.  I need your help.  You could work at the center.  You'd do well there.  Please Laura, don't jump.  The memories will always be there, but you can live through them and help so many others.  We can talk more and be friends.  I need a friend too.  Maybe we can help each other."  Julie held out her hand.  A minute passed and finally she felt Laura's fingers clasp her own.

          As she led her back toward the window, it was as if she were looking into a mirror.  It was uncanny how much alike their lives had been, for Julie too was to have been married.  And she also lost a baby.  Thomas was killed in a plane crash, just like Marv.  But it had been a jet that crashed upon landing at the airport and she had lost her baby when she fell down a flight of stairs trying to get to the field.
          Julie edged her way a little bit past the window to allow Laura to go in first.  Laura was crying as she was assisted inside.
          Maybe it would work for Laura.  Maybe she would be able to forget enough to make a new life for herself.  Maybe it would be worth it for Laura...  For Julie, it never had been.  She was still waiting for the hurt to heal.  She was still trying to find something worth living for.  She was sure now that there would never be anything to fill the void in her life.  For me, thought Julie, life simply isn't worth living.

          She turned and stepped off the ledge.


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