Eric Tai

Falling Up

The icy wind whips past my body and howls in my ears as my stomach does somersaults. A sinuous river of glass and metal flashes brilliantly in the background as my motionless body rapidly hurtles towards the ground. Taking a glance upwards, I look back to the top from where I had jumped. It was only a few seconds ago that I was standing on the razor-thin edge of life and death. I was on the top of a soaring one hundred fifty-floor skyscraper. Barely conscious, my body and mind jumped off the edge and begun their descent. Still falling, all my surroundings and senses start to feel sluggish and strangely calm like the eye of a storm. Each time I pass a floor, I peer through the metallic, glassy windows to catch a glimpse inside of each one. The separate levels remind me of each day in my life, simply slipping away and escaping my grasp. My eyes wander, and memories start to shift through my head like a flowing stream of water. "What happened in my life?"

I grew up in a modest house located in the suburbs. I was the only child born to two happy parents. I was given the name, Victor. Starting from a young age, I constantly spent my time with a group of kids who lived on the same block. I can faintly remember the fresh, cool air, and the atmosphere of enthusiasm that filled the air as we explored the woods, fish, and played ball. Through everything we did together, I felt a sense of belonging, one of the best feelings I ever had. I was afraid of being alone, thus, throughout my life, I always tried to keep a group of people near me. My academics were nothing extraordinary - wasn't a genius - but on the other hand, I wasn't exactly as dumb as a doornail. Now thinking about it, my childhood was filled with pleasant memories. As my mind shifts back to reality, the one hundredth floor shifts by, and I momentarily look through the glass panes to see people silently working in their plain, white cubicles like robots. This particular image reminds me of a special memory I have dating back to my former days as an employee at Oncotech. Back then, I was fresh out of college with a degree in computer science, and was subsequently hired as a employee for Oncotech, a fairly large company at that time. Now, though, the company is gone because greed and corruption had already taken its course. On the first day of work, I was dressed in a white shirt and black slacks. As I entered into the building and started riding the elevator up, I could feel ants crawling on my already sweat-covered skin. As the glowing, yellow dial changed numbers when the elevator ascended, I was feeling very anxious. My mind started posing these impossible scenarios which resulted in me being either fired, embarrassed, or humiliated. By the time I got out of the elevator, I was already shaken and ready to lose it. I would have, but the one thing that stopped me was this lady. She saw how edgy and apprehensive I was, and did not ridicule me or anything, but actually helped me to relax. She showed me around the workplace, introduced me to other co-workers, and indicated where my cubicle was. Her name was Esther, and the moment I saw her, I knew we were meant to be together. After two years, we got engaged and married. She transformed my life by leaps and bounds because before her, there was only me, but after I met her, she became one of the most significant parts of my life. The fiftieth floor slips by, but I manage to get a small peek at it and sight the incinerating room. The incinerating room is a place where things are disposed by burning them and in effect, people forget about those things. For me, though, the incinerating room conjures up the worst memories which are seared onto my mind. It was on a rainy morning, almost a year after Esther and I got married. Things had been going well because both of us worked, we got a cozy apartment in the city, and life was beginning to look up for us all until that day. Both of us got up early at six, got ready for work. I can still remember what Esther wore, what she ate, and what expression she had on her face that morning. We both drank a cup of coffee and ate a bagel. She was wearing black dress skirt and matching shirt covered with a black jacket. Since Esther worked at a different company than where I worked, we both had to leave in separate cars from our apartment. As she entered a small black sedan, she had a small, but sweet smile on her face and promptly said, "I love you", and left. After that, everything became a blur. After work, I got a call on my cell telling me my wife had died in a car accident. Apparently her car had flipped over many times because it was hit by a large truck in an intersection. My heart and mind sank, and I felt alone. Now, here I am. The mind is a strange thing, at one moment it's blank and then suddenly it's full of feelings and memories that one thought never existed. The thirtieth floor passes, but this time I stray away. Instead, I think about my life. I ponder about the worth and meaning. "Is it so meaningless that I can throw it away right now?" "Did everything that happened be so easy to throw away?" After reminiscing, I see a focus for my life and a plan to rebuild it, but it's too late. Nearing the ground I quietly wait for impact, but suddenly, a tomato truck pulls up. Almost instantly, I'm stained bloody, red tomatoes. Getting up, I feel dizzy and nauseous as my head spins, and then I collapse. I wake up in my home, feeling groggy, but nonetheless alive. It seems that I was transported to the hospital, treated and taken back to my home. Sitting in my bed I feel fine, but something seems terribly wrong. Is it my head, my arm, my leg, but everything seems to check out fine. "What is wrong?" A few days later, I feel really weak and collapse again except this time, I can't wake up. An autopsy later indicated that Victor had died from E. coli which he had contracted from landing in tomatoes.


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