The Thin Edge

TRIGGER WARNING: This is a piece of fiction. May be disturbing.

It just occurred to me as I sat reading by the window. I was some 70 feet above the road, perched in my apartment, luxuriating in the warmth of my tea and the only thing stopping me from hitting that hard gravel below was an iron-grill. It was chosen for its design by someone in my family but its real purpose was to keep me (or anyone like me) off the edge. Just in case I slipped. Of course, it is always assumed, that the slippage would be a physical thing. While you are mopping the floor and there’s too much water. You slip. Or you suddenly find yourself getting dizzy. You slip. Without that grill in place, anything could happen. Gravity works in a singular direction and tends to end badly for the one it acts upon.

But no one thought of a mental slippage. Like a random fuse somewhere, bursting in a tenth of a second and the entire neighbourhood finding itself without electricity for a couple of hours. That mental slippage wouldn’t be held back by something as ordinary as a grill. For one thing, the grill reached somewhere above my waist. One step, climb up. Next step, over. Another step. Out.

But the idea of this was too distasteful. Such a crude step for one who lived so beautifully in the present. I mean if I lived in the future I’d do it. What promise could the future possibly hold? My womb had been shedding eggs for so long, I was almost bored with the process. I didn’t look to the future because there were very few futures in which my eggs were viable enough to be more than eggs. And if I had lived in the past I’d do it too. For what was my past but a series of “didn’t do”, “didn’t go”, “didn’t care”? There were not enough memories to bank upon for the rest of my lifetime. So the present seemed like the most natural, most obvious, most default state to wallow in. I mean, live in. And those who live in the moment, they have other troubles. Like how to stay in the present. How not to wallow in memories that aren’t even mine? How not to dream of a future which may or may not come to pass?

Suddenly, the man on my Mac chimes, “It’s twenty-two hundred hours”. I’m jolted back to the present. Just like that. In an instant. The interest I held in the iron-grill for the last 5 minutes, but which felt like a day and more, has gone. Poof! That thought, that almost amazing, neat, hope-inspiring-ending-in-a mess thought has disappeared like a puff of smoke they show in the cartoons. I’m back into my book – fictional tales with the power to grip me more strongly and content me better than my own reality.

Someday that thought about the iron-grill will return. I know because thoughts like these have a way of worming their way back from layers of unconscious-subconscious-conscious and occupying you. But for now, the charm of the grill is gone. That thin edge wasn’t crossed tonight.

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