Jane Little was ironing her husband's dress pants in the living room with her six-year-old son at her feet when the phone rang.
"Oops," she said, moving gracefully across the living room carpet to pause the music before running into the kitchen to retrieve the phone. Scott continued to gaze curiously at the pictures in one of his father's science books.
"Hello?" answered Jane in a cheery voice.
There was a pause, and then, "Jane?"
"Speaking," Jane replied.
"Jane Little?" asked the voice.
From the living room, little Scott looked up from his book.
"We have some unfortunate news for you."
"Okay..." Jane said in a slow voice, trying not to shake. She took in a short breath and batted her eyelashes, hoping that tears would not be necessary.
"Your son Michael has attempted to commit suicide."
Jane only blinked as the words met a stone wall of resistance. Scott stared across the carpet with his ears perked and his breathing silent. He knew when bad news was in the air.
Finally Jane managed a breathless, "What?"
"There is no need to be worried for his health. We believe he will recover completely. Unfortunately, there will be some need for therapy."
"No," Jane spat suddenly, her eyes blinking fiercly and her head moving back and forth as her eyes spun wildly about the room. She began to pace, and so Scott walked carefully around the side of the couch.
"I mean--You must be mistaken. My Michael would not--I mean--would not do such a thing."
"Mrs Little? I think it would be best if we drop by this afternoon. Would that work with your plans?"
Jane put a few short distraught gasps across the line, and the man continued. "How about we come over right now? Would that work?"
"Okay," Jane responded.
"We will be there shortly."
Jane placed the receiver down on the counter with a graceless movement of her shaking hand, and then stood for some time, her right foot on her left, and her fingers gripping the counter. Scott toddled into the kitchen and wrapped his arms around her. And then she began to sob.
But before she could even properly hang up the phone, there was a knock at the door. She frowned. Was that them already?
She composed herself as best she could in case it was someone else at the door, and then she moved to the mudroom, knowing that if it was someone else at the door that she would not be able to contain herself. She opened the door to let a slice of daylight in across the carpet and over the small boy who stood in the shadows holding a limp teddy bear by its leg.
Two men in black suits and ties stood shoulder to shoulder on the doorstep, their faces chiseled and their eyes intelligent and stern. "Jane?" one man asked. "Chief Izaac, officer of the police force, may we come in?"
Jane gave the two men a desperate look and then wordlessly led them into her simple house. Scott disappeared from the scene as the strangers' presence filled the house with coarse unfamiliarity.
Jane led them into the living room, and they sat down upon her flowered couch.
"We know how hard this must be for you, but we must assure you once more that Michael's chances of fully recovering are quite significant. However, he is currently in an intensive therapeutic recovery unit, and you will not be able to see him. The whole event was rather...traumatizing."
Jane frowned gravely and fixed a glare upon their shadowed faces. "Explain yourselves," she whispered.
"You were rather disbelieving on the phone," voiced the second one. "And so I have some questions for you. Have you noticed any odd behaviour in your son lately?"
"No," Jane said. "He has been happy and alive everytime I've set eyes upon him."
"Have there been any times where he seemed happier than usual?" questioned Izaac.
Jane gave the man a suspicious eye. "Why?" she asked.
The other man answered. "I am Taelon from the Psychology branch of the Children's Hospital," he said, "and I know a lot about the chemical make-up of one's brain. Any signs of unusual behaviour may mean a chemical instability. You know that your son is a happy, confident person. But sometimes, even such people can be taken by a sickness. A sickness that will give them an emotional rollercoaster until they plummet quite suddenly into a depression."
Jane bit her lip. "And this is what happened to Michael? What did he do?"
"Ma'am," Izaac said, "He jumped from the top of a building."
Jane recoiled with a protective arm to her chest, and she gave a light gasp. "And you say that he will recover?"
"He will be as good as new, once we are finished treating him," Taelon assured her with a friendly glint in his eye.
Jane nodded slowly, and moved back into her seat. There was a lengthy pause, filled only with the whirring of the paused cd in the stereo.
"...Were there more questions you wished to ask?"
Taelon gave his partner a side-long look, and Izaac cleared his throat. "No," he said. "But if we could...take a look in his room?"
Jane's eyebrows snapped together, and she shook her head. "No," she said. "Why should you want to do that? There is no need to investigate as if Michael were some sort of mystery! You said so yourself that it was just an inbalance in the brain."
Izaac had not been prepared for Jane's angry reply, and he looked down with a slight chuckle and a cough.
"I apologize," he said. And then he made quick eye contact with his partner.
"We have something to show you," Taelon said. "Something that will help you to understand the situation a little better. And then maybe you would help us with our investigations."
The man sat up straight, and put a large hand into his jacket. He pulled a small cd case from his inside chest pocket and then stood. "May we just..." He pointed awkwardly at the stereo, and Jane moved to help him.
"Yes, sorry," murmured Jane. "Of course..." Her hands shook as she removed her son's sing-a-long cd and placed the flashy dvd into its place.
And then she sat down on her chair, her hands gripping the arms, and her breathing slow and shaky.
Izaac and Taelon sat on the couch and pressed play. And then they watched Jane's expression as the television thundered into action with the sound of whistling wind on a bad speaker, and the jolting image of a hand-held camera.
The view shook and swung across a few buildings to the sound of background traffic noises, and then it angled into the sky and went out of focus across a blear of clouds before settling upon the top of a building, two-stories from where the camera was held.
There was a sharp intake of breath as Jane recognized her son Michael, and the two silent men watched with interest.
Michael turned toward the camera and smiled.
At this, Jane turned her gaze sharply on the two men in the room. She caught them watching her, and her gaze turned even angrier. But she didn't speak a word.
Screams were heard behind the camera, and a few calls could be made out. The watchers were crying for Michael to stop.
Michael turned back. His cry was cut and distorted as it fell through the whistling wind and into the camera's awful audio system, but the words could still be deciphered. "I'm not going to kill myself!" he cried.
A few people yelled back at him, telling him to get down. "Go away!" he cried back. "Don't watch me!"
And then he moved from the edge, out of view. The camera remained fixed, shaking and jumping, but still relatively focused on the rooftop. A few long moments passed. And then with an unstoppable momentum, Michael's figure ran back into full view with a powerful lunge, launching himself clear from the rooftop.
The audio was full of distorted cries, Michael's body was seen plummeting out of view, and then the camera swung wildly and fell against a ground of cracked cement that sent the entire screen out of focus. Then there was a jumble of motion and the screen went black.
The room was deathly silent. Jane was staring into the void within the television, and the others did not dare to speak.
Finally, the men rose to their feet. "We best be going," they said softly. "We wish you well, and we will send you updates on your son's health when next we can."
They filed carefully from the room and a soft click followed them out of the front door. Jane sat in silence for some time, gently crying.
And then there was a faint sound and Scott crawled out from behind the couch. He stood up.
Jane let her jaw go slack as she gazed at her young beloved with eyes full of sorrow. "Oh Scott!" she breathed, slipping from her chair to comfort him.
But he held a single hand out to her. She paused, confused.
"Mommy," he said softly. "That building was on the news last night. It's eighteen stories high. The camera was being held on the roof of the neighboring building."
Jane's eyes went wide, and a single breath escaped her.