Live Before You Leap (story)

a story by: GF Willmetts

‘You don’t want to jump,’ I told the startled man who thought I was sneaking up on him.

I wasn’t so much sneaking, just extra quiet when I got up there. Up here on the bridge with only the wind to keep us company, there was very little people noise to impair the fact that I was so quiet.

I was on the ground far below when I saw him up there. Like a lot of suicides, they tend to wait. Whether it is for the right moment or someone to stop them is hard to say. This time, it was the latter because I was around. But he didn’t know that until now.

He looked at me, still not believing anyone other than himself would climb so high and even less worried about the height than himself. Although why should he be worried if all he was going to do was leap.

‘Relax. I’m not going to ask who are or grab you. I’m not a policeman. I just thought you would like a talk before you jumped.

‘That won’t change my mind.’

‘Of course not. There are better places to be. Are you religious?’


I shrugged. ‘Depending on where you came from, will determine where you go back to?’


‘Actually, it doesn’t matter where you came from. Both Heaven and Hell are just full of souls that there’s nowhere to go. Earth just deals with the over-flow and gives a place to leave some for a while. Why would you want to go back so early?’

‘And the Earth isn’t over-crowded?’

‘Hell no or Heaven no come to that. Either place, we’re not even bumping into each other, you’re lucky if you can squeeze pass anyone else. Finding someone you might know is a bitch…or a butch. You never know who you’re bumping into. Certainly not in Hell. Heaven is only marginally better. They say sorry if they shove you. They often ask why so-and-so deserved to be there and you end up with a lot of gossips, simply because there is nothing else there to do. This is luxury in comparison.’

‘There doesn’t seem much difference between the two.’

‘Hell no. They’re just the worse souls. Unethical. Uncaring. There’s a lot more of them. Just that Heaven has filled up as well.’

‘How can immaterial places fill up? Surely the ones in charge…God…Lucifer…can just think up more space?’

‘You would think? No, it doesn’t work that way. I blame Dante for depicting Hell as a tier system. It’s all flat.’

‘I suppose you’ll tell me next that Heaven doesn’t have flying angels playing harps.’

‘Another myth compounded by people on Earth. While you’re here, memory of the after-life is just an illusion. Like all lost places, the image is seen better than reality. Everyone looks pretty much alike except the aura tainted by the colour that shows how good or bad you are. Do you really want to jump and go back there?’

The man looked down. ‘The reasons why I want to leap are my own. Do you think me telling you what they are will change my mind?’

‘I’m not interested in your reasons. I’m just weighing up the options. All I’ve just stated is that where you end up won’t be any better but actually far worse.’

‘How do you know about Heaven and Hell?’

‘For some of us, we have memories of both. I am one of those fortunate.’

‘And you go around telling people like me not to jump?’

‘Not all the time. I’m not always here on time. I tend to arrive only to see a splat on the landscape. If you jump, I can’t stop you. I’m just pointing out that wherever you end up, you’ll think here was better and listened to me.’

‘So I’ll remember my time here?’

‘For a time. Your immortal soul will ultimately have other memories to fill up its space. With a short life here, you’ll have little to remember as it is. Better to stay here longer, savour your life and have some memories that are worth holding on to and talk about later?’

‘To do what?’

‘Well, one day, you will return to Heaven or Hell and have something to relate. No doubt someone will offer you a plinth or stage on which will give you some space to relate all the details. If all you can talk about is the reasons for your suicide, you will quickly become a dull me with my problems that I couldn’t tackle.’

‘Is that why you came back here? To get some memories?’

‘Alas, I slipped. Would you want to be a wandering spirit down here unable to touch anything? Now that is Hell.’

The man contemplated for a moment. ‘You mean I wouldn’t go back to…wherever…right away?’

‘As I said, both places don’t have much in the way of vacancies neither and you would have to wait for one to return to let you in. Not quite heaven’s gate nor the river boat to Hell. Suicides tend to be back of the queue and little chance of a return here at a later date simply because you’ll no doubt waste it again.’

‘So you’re trying to save my immortal soul? You’ll still just trying to persuade me from jumping.’

‘Not at all. You’re the one sealing your fate. I’m just telling you what will happen. Decide your own fate. Just that there are worse places.’

‘Maybe I can wait awhile’

‘Try a lifetime.

‘When you say it like that, it brings things into significance. Thanks for talking to me, man.’

Man! If only he knew. I watched him go down and waggled my barbed tail, relieved that I hadn’t had to sit on it any longer. Hell was full enough already. Why should I suffer fools there as well?


© GF Willmetts 2012

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