She decided that it was time to end it.
Emily stood on the edge of the precipice and cast her eyes across the patchwork of coal stained stone and fields. The landscape that stretched out in front of her was as cracked and fractured as her current state of mind.
Above, granite clouds rolled and boiled across the sky. They came toward her in oppressive waves. The wind that carried them lifted her hair in a cascade behind her. She leaned into it, looking down the viaduct, her arms hooked over the aluminum railing behind her.
Letting go of the railing she fell, opening her arms out as she fell to embrace it. What had been a small winding thread moments before became a road, shiny and wet as she descended with gathering velocity. Someone screamed as Emily ploughed into the road, arms raised above her head, chin tilted to the sky as if to welcome oblivion.
Traffic had stopped in both directions as Emily regained consciousness and stood on broken and bloody legs. The tarmac around her was as crumbled as soil, a single white central line decimated. Looking down, Emily could see a shin bone sticking out of the denim of her jeans.
A man approached her and asked, with slight incredulity in his wavering voice “are you OK?”
Emily turned and tried to focus, attempting to grasp the reality and presence of him as someone drowning reaches out towards the shore. She could not comprehend why she was not embracing darkness at this moment. She could feel small stones stuck in the side of her left cheek- punctuation marks that should have represented the end of her unbearable life.
“I…I…don’t know.” She finally replied, forming the words around swollen and bloody lips.
“Everything is such a mess, my life is such a mess…” she raised her grazed hands to her face, and salty tears rolled down her cheeks, stinging as they followed the courses of cuts and bruises.
“Sit down, I’ve called 999.”
A small crowd was beginning to gather, mostly consisting of drivers and their passengers, their features went in and out of focus as she looked around her, they spun around and around like a colour vinyl record. It made her feel nauseous, and she resisted the urge to vomit.
Clumsily she went down on her backside and the man grabbed her just in time to lower her to the floor, back into the hole that her impact had created. She concentrated as hard as she could on his face, it was an older, kind sort of face marked with laughter lines and crows feet. It reminded her of Simon, before the accident. How she missed him. The man was looking up at the stone viaduct, into the drizzle that was beginning to fall on them.
“I think you’re very lucky to be alive, love,” he was saying, his voice still tinged with disbelief, “Ambulance is on its way.”
He crouched down next to her and she leaned a bloody cheek against his blue woollen jumper. he had taken his coat off and it was wrapped warmly around her shoulders. In the distance she could hear the wail of emergency services rising and falling.
The drizzle brought with it another deep round of sadness within her. It pulsed in waves from her stomach. She really didn’t have much time to end it all.
Emily’s vision had started to clear when the first ambulance came into view, down the road she could see the blue lights flashing, heading towards them at speed. The man still held her and she could feel him relax a little at the sight of them, the tenseness in his muscles dissipating.
The observing crowd, standing and looking on in wonder at how this woman had survived such a fall would not have noticed the tears streaming from the corners of her eyes, nor seen the frustration in her face. The rain that steadily fell masked her tears of frustration and inner pain.
They did, however see her stand up again, groggily and slowly, a horrific injury to one shin still clearly visible. The gentleman’s coat fell off her shoulders and pooled on the floor behind her.
“What are you doing love?” the man with her was saying, “don’t be daft now…”
She was on her feet, her left leg slightly bent where she could not fully support her weight. The man had a hand on her shoulder, but looked as confused as the rest of them.
“Sorry…” she managed and began a limping run down the central line, she was amazed that she had the ability to. The group watched, dumbstruck as she passed them, her hands pumping as quickly as she could manage. One blonde lady with red lipstick stepped forward, as if to stop her, but was held back by her husband who shook his head. Nothing to do with us, his face said, don’t get involved.
Emily was running towards a bend in the road ahead in the direction that the ambulance was coming from. At the last second she weaved behind a red Fiat with a black roof that was queued in the chaos, out of sight, and then as the large white vehicle with flashing cyan lights came into view she emerged into its path.
The ambulance hit her with sudden and audible force.
For a second Emily could see only flashes of blue, white and red as she pirouetted through the air, her arms as loose as a rag doll. The soundtrack to this movement was a high screech of breaks, and there was the smell of burning rubber.
She spun onto the roof of a nearby car, both front and rear windows blasted outwards in a shower of emerald edged safety glass. There she rolled to a standstill, on the bonnet, one snowdrop white hand dangling over in front of the bumper. A single trickle of blood ran down her arm and dripped off the tip of her finger onto the road below.
Silence descended, punctuated by the light tap of rain on metal and a murmur of sobs from the shocked onlookers. Almost as dazed as the rest of them, a couple of ambulance men climbed out of their vehicle, and not wasting a second made their way towards the body.
The patient was tilted upwards towards them on what appeared to be a modified hospital bed. She was covered by a sheet, but multi coloured wires extended from underneath and into a bank of consoles and keyboards to her left. The displays were lit, some displaying what appeared to be binary code, some showing vital statistics in the form of pulsing blue lines.
Her eyes were shut and stuck in place by four thin strands of medical tape, tubes extended out of her mouth and up into bags of liquid that hung above the bed.
Doctor Halmsey stood next to the bed, studying the statistics though small, round glasses. “So- Emily Johnson, twenty-five years old” he said to his assistant, a junior doctor who was stood on the other side of the bed.
“She’s had twenty virtual attempts since she started treatment just over a year ago. She was admitted by her parents following repeated self-destructive episodes after she lost her job and then her husband.”
The assistant nodded and made a note on his clipboard with a bic.
“Unfortunately the latest cuts mean that we cannot sustain this level of aversion therapy, to be frank it appears to be doing more harm than good.” Halmsey looked down at the beautiful young woman who lay before them, some mother’s daughter, he thought with a small pang of melancholy.
“So we’re just going to shut this down?” The assistant asked.
Doctor Halmsey looked at his young apprentice and gave him a wry smile. He couldn’t tell if it was him getting older, or his assistants were getting younger.
“Yes Joseph” he said. “Unfortunately we can’t save them all.”
They both looked up at the largest monitor in the room, and the biggest source of light above them. On it an electronic representation of Emily was cutting her wrists with a scalpel in what looked like a hospital operating room. Doctors looked on aghast as blood spurted from her like an obscene fountain. She was attempting suicide for the twenty-first time.
Doctor Halmsey walked over to a small button on one of the panels, it was covered with a plastic flap, on the other side of the bed, Joseph did the same.
“We’ll notify her parents that treatment failed and that she’s being transferred to cryogenics.”
They both pressed their respective buttons and the screens above went black.