The End of Things: A Very Short Story
Together on the precipice, they stand. The wind whips around them, tears through them, and they teeter on the edge, hand in hand. He peers over the edge. "This is it," he says quietly, his words all but lost in the roar of the world. "Yes," she whispers back.
The cliff is jagged; the drop is long. The valley below is dead and dry, all moisture and life sucked away by years of crippling dryness and a rot that spread like mist. It is a fitting place for an end.
"If we can't live together," he says, letting the tears spill down his cheeks, "we'll die together." He squeezes her hand.
"I know," she replies, leaning into his shoulder. "You've said that twenty times already. I know why we're here. Please stop saying it."
He peers down over his toes. His stomach churns at the thousands of feet of cold, empty air below. "It's a long drop," he says.
"I know," she agrees. "That's why we chose this place. Are we going to do this or what?"
He frowns. "Maybe...maybe..." He clears his throat and looks away. His cheeks burn red with shame, but the drop is long, and life has been so short. "Maybe we should just...instead of jumping, I mean...maybe we should just...break up instead?"
She nods thoughtfully. "Sure, okay."
"Really?" he says, startled.
"Yeah. I should go to college."
"And leave me behind." It's not a question. It's a statement. It's a reason. It's a fact that has brought them to this place.
"Yeah. I'm actually looking forward to it. Being in college and stuff. And this..." She gestures out at the open valley and the sheer drop down. "This feels forced."
"Oh," he says.
"Yeah," she replies.
They stand together a few moments more. They cough. They look away.
"Well," he says.
"Well," she agrees.
They turn from the cliff and get back in the car. They drive back into town, back to their lives, back into the river of time. And they take the leap, and they live their lives.