Prompt Ninety-Two

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A man jumps from the fortieth story of a building. As he’s passing the twenty-eighth floor, he hears a phone ring and regrets that he jumped. Why?

Frank knew it was time to call it quits. He was 45 years old and had nothing going for him. He had been working for the same company for more than 15 years and hated every second of it. His boss was a prick and his boss’s boss was an even bigger one. His wife/high school sweetheart was screwing their neighbor and wanted a divorce. He was overweight and balding and was already having back issues. There was nothing worth living for.

As he stood on the roof of his office building, staring down at the busy street below, he reminded himself of these things. This is it, he thought, climbing up on the ledge. This is really it…

Closing his eyes, Frank stepped out onto nothing and felt his stomach jolt as he plummeted to the ground. He dared to open his eyes and watched as the ground grew steadily closer. He turned to look at his building and recognized the holiday window clings on the 30th floor.

He closed his eyes again but they immediately shot open when his cellphone began to ring. How could he possibly forget? It was a ringtone he knew all too well, one programmed for only one person. Reaching into his pocket, Frank looked at the smiling face of his daughter, indicating she was calling him.

Ashley was a freshman in college and out-of-state for school. However, ever since she was a little girl she had a weird sixth sense and knew when something was wrong with people close to her. She knew when her cousin broke his ankle playing soccer in France, knew when her grandma passed away, and knew when her mom had asked for a divorce. And now she knew her dad was trying to end his life.

Frank frantically looked around for a way to stop himself. He could not die. Not now. How could his little girl live without her dad? Who would send care packages with her favorite snacks and comics when she had a big test to study for? Who would stay up with her until two in the morning, watching the stars and giving her advice on the most obscure things? Who would walk her down the aisle and be there for her father-daughter dance?

Frank knew jumping had been a mistake, but it was too late now. Who survived a fall from the fortieth floor? Who would want to? There would be medical bills and therapy and maybe even time locked away in a mental institution.

I’m sorry, Frank thought, hugging his phone to his chest. I’m so sorry.

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