Uncommon Hashtag

by M.J. Sutton

 

She stood at the glass, leaning forward with both palms pressed firmly against the barrier, wondering how much it would hurt if she were to fall through and plummet the 30 stories down to the cold concrete below.

 

Probably wouldn’t feel a thing—just a massive rush of adrenaline as her body fell, ultimately coming to a bone-shattering halt. But if the glass wasn’t there, would she even have the courage to take the dive? She quietly asked if the glass would disappear.

 

No such luck.

 

Her feet dragged as she made her way back to her desk. She sat down at her regular desktop and picked up the regular phone to make her regular calls on this all too regular Monday. The phone sounded a busy tone on the other end. She peeked back at the glass.

 

"If only," she whispered.

 

It wasn’t the first time the thought of leaping from that window had crossed her mind, but this was the first time she’d imagined the fall. Jumping out of the window and flying into the distant unknown was a common daydream, but she’d have to hit the bottom sometime. She hung up the phone and looked back at the glass again.

 

"If only."

 

The phone rang.

 

"Martin's office," she said quietly.

 

"Why don’t you do it?" The voice was a raspy and unrecognizable fuzz.

 

"I’m sorry?" she said.

 

"Why don’t you do it? You think about it enough."

 

She tugged her shirt collar away from her neck, cutting her eyes at the other cubicles, waiting to see one of her co-workers giggling from behind their phone.

 

Her voice was strained. "I’m afraid I don’t know what you are talking about." Her eyes still searched, but no one was watching.

 

"’Course you do." Then the dial tone came back; the phone was dead.

 

She hung up the receiver after a long, uncertain pause and turned her chair back towards the desk to look at the caller ID.

 

Unknown.

 

She shook her head, blowing it off as one of the prank calls she’d get at least once a week. She moved her mouse, waking up her monitor. A new message was waiting for her on some unfamiliar, simple program. Just words flashing on her screen—

 

I can make it happen. The user ID was blank.

 

She stared at the screen for a moment, then slowly typed her response. Make what happen?

 

A reply came instantly. Make the glass disappear.

 

Her heart jumped. She looked around the room again. No one watching.

 

Now, why would you want to do that?

 

I don’t. You do.

 

The user signed off, leaving her alone in the chat room. It had to be a joke, a cruel joke.

 

Very funny, Ray!, she typed out. An automated message reminded her she was alone.

 

Could have been anybody, she told herself.

 

She logged back into her call list, dialing the next number. It rang twice before someone picked up.

 

“Ready to listen yet?” The vaguely-familiar voice asked.

 

She felt her hackles rise. “I’m not sure what kind of game you’re playing, but – “

 

“Samantha Reckols, age 36. You live in that one-bedroom apartment, right? Kids are gone? Ex has custody? I’m surprised you haven’t done it already.”

 

Samantha’s face got hot and she bit her bottom lip, deciding how to respond. “Who is this?” she finally asked.

The voice chuckled softly. “Your escape.”

 

“Escape to where?”

 

“Does it matter?”

 

“Maybe.”

 

The receiver went dead.

 

She didn’t hang up at first. The steady beep blared through her earpiece, letting her know she was truly the only one there. She lifted her hand, about to end the call, when the voice chimed back in.

 

“Still thinking about it?”

 

She jabbed the button to hang up. Her hands were shaking, now, but the bottom drawer in her desk held her salvation, always did. She shook the pill bottle lightly, then popped the top off with her thumb. Sweet salvation in the form of two blue capsules dropped into her palm.

 

The pills stared back at her, laughing at her like everyone else. She brought her trembling hand to her lips. A tear swelled in her eye, then dropped freely to the ground. Her computer screen lit up.

 

She put her hand down.

 

Another message.

 

Do it. Jump.

 

Her hand moved to her mouth again.

 

Coward.

 

She slammed the pill bottle down on her desk, startling one of her coworkers awake as he slept in the cubicle over. Her chair flew backward as she planted both feet on the dull, stained carpet. She kicked off her high heels and ran.

 

Her feet felt light, her body unrestricted, and every worker in the building stopped mid-task to watch her sprint with full force towards the window.

 

Two men holding some surely incredibly important conversation stood directly in her path and jumped away at the last moment so not to get crushed between the barreling madwoman and the glass.

 

She bent her knees, springing herself forward towards the window, and braced herself for the sure impact. But it never came. Her body passed through the office window like it was never there.

 

And now she fell.

 

Free-falling 30 stories, the rushing wind blew up her blouse as she nose-dived towards the pavement. Every set of eyes from every office building on that block watched her body fall, several grabbing their phones to record the drop.

 

She watched the windows pass by.

 

Twenty stories were left.

 

Ten stories left.

 

Five stories.

 

One.

 

The news called it a hoax; the internet deemed it fake. Only the wild few believed what was really captured on nearly every camera that day. There was no impact, no bloody mess at the bottom, and no opportunity for an outrageous hashtag.

 

#LiveSuicide

 

#RIPReckols

 

No.

 

#BeFree

 

#FlyAway

Uncommon Hashtag represents a feeling that we all have had at one point in our lives. M.J. Sutton's short stories can be found in Ashtales, Hellbound Books, Augora Wolf, and Blood Moon Rising Magazine. He is currently working on his largest project to date.

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June 2018

© 2020 by The Esthetic Apostle