Everything came to a standstill the moment he went over the edge. It felt as if time had stopped, as if we were watching a movie in slow motion, not as if we were living it. Just moments before, he had been laughing, his chest heaving to catch his breath, his eyes, the same ones filled with absolute terror, dancing with the mirth of his carefree life. I saw his eyes widen as his foot slipped off the edge of the building. His balance soon followed his foot, and thus the rest of him. As he went, his eyes screamed the words that refused to come from his mouth. Help me, they read, help me! It was a more urgent call for help than any words could ever command.
I remember all of us running to the edge in the hopes of catching him, but I hardly remember moving. Looking back on it, I feel like I was a bystander throughout the whole thing, watching myself go through the motions, trying to save my friend but failing and watching him plummet. I remember the pounding in my head as we stood at the top of the building, seeing him down below. A terrible, horrible pounding, blocking out all other sound, filling my head and my entire being with an audible pulse to match the beating of my heart. I remember screaming his name, but hearing nothing—not from my own mouth or those of my friends. I remember reaching for him, and I can still feel the warmth of my frantic tears as they rolled down my cheeks, a silent cry.
I remember a lot of things about that night. How cold the evening became as soon as he took that fateful step. How I never wanted to return to that building, to that block, sometimes even to that city. How my whole body ached with emotion, shaking and freezing in rapid succession as I tried to process what had happened. How I turned my eyes when we passed his body on the ground, refusing to take in his final end.
But most of all I remember the silence, ragged and heavy with the weight of a thousand mistakes.