She was standing on the roof of a tall building. A very tall building. Eight stories, to be exact. The sun was hiding behind a cloud, as if it was scared to watch her.
The girl – for she was not yet a woman – was looking down at the ground with unseeing eyes. She wasn't scared of heights. In fact, she loved heights, loved to climb. That was why it seemed so appropriate.
It was quite windy and cold on the roof. Her dark hair billowed around her, her thin trousers giving little protection to her shaking legs. Her shirt wasn't much thicker, but the jumper she was wearing was large and kept her upper half warm.
The wind hurt her eyes. It stung, badly, and made them water. A tear rolled down her cheek, and she closed her eyes.
She opened them again, and was shocked. She wasn't alone anymore. A young man stood beside her, staring just as vacantly at the street below as she had been before. She knew it was rude to stare, but she couldn't help it. Where had he come from? She hadn't heard anyone approaching her.
“Who are you?” she heard herself ask.
“Does it matter?” he said, and she thought he had a beautiful voice. Very beautiful.
“Maybe. I don't know. Does it?” she asked. She felt very confused. Confused and sleepy.
“What do you think, Emily?” he asked, and the girl started.
“How do you know my name?”
“Does it matter?” he said in his beautiful voice. That beautiful voice...
“No. It doesn't, does it?” she asked. He shook his head silently. At this point, the girl, Emily, looked back down to the ground.
“We're ever so high up,” she said. It did not concern her... she just hadn't realised quite how far up she was before.
“Yes, we are. You don't have to be. You can turn around. Go back down the stairs.”
“But I can't.”
“Why not?” he asked. His voice really was lovely.
“Because they won't let me.”
“Who won't?” he said. He reached out as if to touch her arm, but just as his fingers were about to brush her sleeve, he changed his mind. He crossed his arms tightly against his chest. And looked at her. His eyes were almost as beautiful as his voice. Blue, like the sea when the sun was shining brightly down on the world, with no clouds in its way. So blue...
“The voices,” she said.
“Voices? What voices? There's no one here but you... and me,” he said, and Emily wondered how his voice seemed even more beautiful now than it had when he first spoke.
“I know. But the voices are always there. I can't see them. But I can hear them.”
“How many?”
“Do they have names?” he asked. She thought this was curious... why would the voices have names? But they did. They did have names.
“Ruthless. And Spiteful. And Serene,” she heard herself say. She'd never thought about the voices having names before. It was as if it was the voices that were answering this beautiful man, not her.
“What else are they saying? What are the saying to you, apart from telling you that you can't leave here?”
“Right now they're all telling me to jump.”
“To jump?” he asked. He seemed shocked. Was he shocked? Or was she imagining it?
“Yes. To jump. They don't always say that. It only started today.”
“What did they say before that?”
“Oh, lots of things. Ruthless told me that I was useless, hideous, a flabby disgusting monster who should just stop pretending she was worth anything,” she said. Oh, he was definitely shocked now. “And Spiteful tells me that I'm stupid. She tells me that it's my own fault, that they're there.”
“Why? What did you do?”
“Ruthless says I'm not allowed to tell you. Serene says Ruthless is right. Serene never agrees with Ruthless. I don't think I should.”
“Okay,” said that mysterious, beautiful creature. His hair was lovely too. Brown and curly. “What does Serene normally say to you?”
“She's quiet. She sometimes tries to stop Spiteful and Ruthless. They ignore her, though. She tells me that I can make myself feel better, by doing what she says. It doesn't work. She's so indecisive,” she said. These things that she was saying, she had no idea where they were coming from. She'd never thought things like this before. Ever.
“So is Serene nice? To you?”
“Yes and no. It depends on her mood. My mood.”
The lovely, curly haired, blue eyed boy nodded slowly.
“How long have they been there? How long have you heard them?”
“Three months. Three months and two weeks. Three months and two weeks and four days.” She'd been counting. Why had she been counting? Why...
“That's very specific. Can I ask... have they said anything about me?”
“Ruthless and Spiteful are arguing. Because you're here. Ruthless wants me to push you off the edge, but Spiteful says no, that's silly, that I should just jump and leave you be. They're both agreeing that I should ignore you until they've made a decision, though.”
“Really? But you're not ignoring me,” he said. And he smiled. His smile was beautiful, too.
“I know. I don't want to.”
“Why don't you want to?”
“Because you're beautiful.” She blushed.
“Thank you,” he said, “but if you're not doing as they say, and you're not ignoring me, why can't you leave?”
“Because Serene doesn't want me to leave either. She doesn't mind me not ignoring you, but she said I've to stay. She's the only one who's nice to me.”
“Oh. Does Serene like me?”
As soon as the word 'yes' escaped Emily's lips, all three of the voices went crazy. Ruthless was furious, Spiteful disgusted, Serene humiliated. And they all started shouting... all started shouting the same word.
“Emily? What are you saying?” asked that beautiful boy. She couldn't look at him.
“Jump,” she mouthed. “Jump. Jump. Jump.”
“Look at me,” he commanded. She did. The voices were outraged.
“Jump, jump, jump, jump, jump,” she said, so quickly the words seemed to jumble together.
“Close your eyes.”
“Why?” Jump. Jump. Jump. Jump. Jump.
“I want you to.” Jump. Jump. Jump. Jump.
“It's sore. They're loud. Jump. Jump.”
“You shouldn't jump. Jumping is a very bad thing to do. No jumping.”
Jump. Jump. Ignore the lovely boy. Jump. Jump. Just jump, you useless little tramp!
“NO!” she screamed. The voices got louder. Jump, jump, it's not like you're worth anything, jump, jump! JUMP!
You can't live without us! You need us! No one else likes you!
Oh, but you will. You will jump.
“I don't want to jump,” she sobbed. The curly haired, blue eyed boy with the beautiful voice looked bewildered. You don't want to hear the other half of this, she thought. You really don't.
He can't hear us, though, can he? No one can help you. No one. Only us. Which is why you have to jump.
“I'm not going to do it. I won't jump.”
Yes you will. You will jump. You'll do whatever we say.
We're all you've got, you stupid bitch.
“STOP IT! STOP HURTING ME!” she screamed, choking on her tears.
But it's your fault. We're the only ones who want you now. We're all you've got, the voices said.
“No. No, you're not,” she cried. And she looked up at the beautiful boy, pleading to him with her tear filled eyes. Help me, she thought. You have to help me.
“Close your eyes,” he said. The voices told her not to.
“Don't listen to the voices,” he said. “They don't matter. You don't need them. Tell them to get out.”
“Get out,” she whispered, “get out of my head, get out of my ears. Never come back.”
“Are they gone?” he asked.
No, we're not! Like that will work, shouted the voices. You're too weak and pathetic, you can't win against us!
“No,” cried Emily. “I want them to go! I want them to never come back!”
“You can do it. Just close your eyes.”
She closed her eyes.
“Take a deep breath.”
She took a deep breath.
“And tell them that you don't need them.”
“I don't need you,” she said. The voices seemed quieter.
“Tell them you won't do as they say.”
“I won't do what you tell me,” she said. They seemed even quieter. She couldn't hear Serene anymore. Spiteful was almost whispering. But Ruthless. She could still hear him. “Ruthless doesn't want to go,” Emily said. She tried to keep calm.
“Tell him he has to. Tell him that if he doesn't go, you'll kill him.”
“I'm going to kill you Ruthless. If you don't go, that's what I'll do.”
“Is he going?” asked that beautiful voice.
“Spiteful has gone. She's scared. But Ruthless is still there. He's quiet, but he's still there.”
“Okay. But there's a new voice now, isn't there?” That beautiful voice was right. There was another voice. It was quieter than Ruthless, but it was getting louder.
“Is it... is it me?” Emily asked, her eyes still closed. She could feel sunlight on her face now.
“Yes. It's you, Emily. You're in control now. No one else. Only you. And they'll never come back if you don't want them to.”
“Thank you, beautiful boy... but you still haven't told me-” Emily opened her eyes. He was gone. “...who you are.”
Suddenly, it was as if everything was normal again. As if she'd spent the last three months in a wooden box with only a small hole to peep out of, and now she was free. The sun felt so warm and comforting on her skin, and she could hear so clearly... she could hear... screams? Shouting? But...
She looked back down at the ground, this time seeing what was down there as she had not before. There were people. A lot of them. None of them seemed to be moving... because none of them were moving. They were all standing, looking up... at her. But why?
Because they thought she was going to jump.
“So did I,” she said quietly, and she took a few steps back from the edge. The sounds changed down on the ground. It sounded like... relief. Joy, almost.
Emily sank to the ground, and turned her back to the edge, to the empty air, fixing her eyes on the ground. She brought her legs up, tucking her knees under her chin and wrapping her arms around her legs.
It wasn't long before he showed up. Her dad. She was sure that he'd be furious. She was pleasantly surprised that he wasn't.
“Emily!” he cried, dragging her to her feet – whilst pulling her further away from the edge – and throwing his arms round her. “Never do that!”
“I'm sorry,” she mumbled, and he held her at arms length, scrutinizing her face, her body, as if looking for some sort of injury. She felt incredibly guilty when she saw the tear tracks down his cheeks.
“Never mind that. Are you alright? They wouldn't let me up, not unless you moved away from the edge. And I didn't want any strangers up here with you.”
“But what about the boy?” she asked, frowning. He was a stranger, even if he was so very beautiful. Why was he allowed up?
“What boy?” her father asked, sounding bemused.
“The boy. He was standing right there,” she said, pointing at where he had stood. “He had curly hair. Brown, his hair was brown.”
“There was no one up here apart from you, sweetheart,” her father said, sounding confused and concerned. The paramedics appeared behind him, in their green jumpsuits. One of them approached, muttered something to Emily's dad. He nodded to the paramedic.
“Let's get down from here. Get you looked at, to make sure you're okay,” said her father. He followed the paramedics down, down to the ground, his arm protectively around his daughter's shoulders. He protected her from the crowd as she was ushered into an ambulance, which began to drive off. Her father sat watching her as the paramedics inspected her, wrapping things round her arms and her thumb, holding things to her chest and asking her too many questions.
“Why did you do it?” someone asked. She looked up, into a pair of beautiful blue eyes.
“Do what?” she asked, staring at those eyes.
“Go up there. On the roof,” said the voice, a voice as beautiful as the blue eyes she was looking into.
“The voices told me to...” she said. The male paramedic who was talking to her had curly brown hair. “It's you!” she said, quietly, so no one else could hear. “You were the one on the roof!”
“I don't know what you're talking about, miss. I think we'll need to have you seen by a psychiatrist if you've been hearing voices,” said the paramedic, and her father looked terrified.
“I don't think you need to. They're gone, the voices. I got rid of them...” she said, and she remembered the words that the beautiful voice had said to her when she was on the roof. “I'm in control now.”
“That's good to hear, but we'll have you see a psychiatrist anyway,” said the paramedic, saying something to her father. But it was him. It looked like him, at least. The boy on the roof. That beautiful boy...
The paramedic sat down beside Emily as one of the other paramedics started talking to her father, trying to explain something to him, something medical. She wasn't listening, she was only vaguely aware that her father was on the verge of hysterics and the paramedic was having a hard time calming him down. She couldn't stop staring at the paramedic beside her. It was him. It had to be him. He looked the same... sounded the same.
“You're him. You were the one who helped me up there. Did I say thank you? Thank you,” she said. The paramedic said nothing, but when Emily looked away from him, to her father, he couldn't help but smile. And it was a beautiful smile.

The End

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