Gifts of the Wounded

Photo by Simon Zhu on Unsplash

The neon streets called to him as he stood upon the brink, miles above the ground. The chatter and hubbub of the city blurred into a comforting din up here above the world. The street lights below filled the empty spaces like a bright canvas and the glitzy colours that lined the buildings sprung out into the darkening sky like lashings of life.

The tear clinging to his cheek finally broke free and plummeted down below, refracting the city within itself as it fell. He could watch it in detail, as his eye augs slowed the perception of vision and increased the saturation of the light.

It was beautiful.

With a sudden intake of breath he looked up – the drones were sparser this high – but some still pleasantly buzzed around, going about their tasks diligently. The door to the roof burst open behind him and Claire burst out with it, panting.

“Edgar don’t jump!” She cried, her green dyed hair catching the neon rainbow.

He scrunched his face and turned to face her. “What are you so worried about Claire? I’m wearing grav boots.” He tapped his foot with his other heel.

“Yeah, but I wanted to talk. Just don’t jump okay?”

Edgar sighed and turned to sit over the ledge. After a moment he gestured with his head to the empty space beside him.

She sighed too and sat down, resting her head on his shoulder and lacing her hands around his arm.

“Are you okay?” She asked.

“Why do you want to know?”

“Just because I said no Edgar, doesn’t mean I don’t care about you.”

He sighed again, ordering his med bots to suppress his tears for the moment, “I know.”

Claire waited, taking in the gentle buzz of the city while Edgar summoned the strength to speak.

“They didn’t let me see the body.” He finally said. “The Nano-phage can transmit wirelessly now, from med bot to med bot. It isn’t just halting suppression of disease now, it’s ramping it up.”

“That’s terrifying, what did the Nano-phage let him die of?”

“Something called diabetes, as his body failed he had a thing called a stroke.”

“I’ve never heard of those before.” She said softly.

“Neither had I. I read up on it, we are incredibly lucky to be living in these times. I really have nothing to complain about.”

“Your gifts do not detract from your wounds, Edgar. You taught me that.”

Edgar said nothing, but leaned into her further, savouring her scent.

She squeezed his arm and continued. “So seeing his body was out of the question. But did you really want to?”

“That man caused a lot of pain in my life. He beat me, turned my sister against me and then finally walked out, leaving us in a financial hell hole. No, I did not want to see my step father for any send off… It’s just…. just…”

“Just what?” She prompted gently.

“It would have been nice to have some closure.” He released the med bot’s hold over his tears and they streamed freely down his face again. “But if I always got what I wanted, if I avoided the suffering I’ve been through, I may not be the man I am today. Maybe that’s a good thing.” He smiled sadly, “Maybe it isn’t.”

“Edgar.” Claire said.

“But I have realised one thing in this life, Claire.” He gently pulled her grip from his arm and rose, standing on the brink once more. “That it’s not up to me to make that judgement,” He turned to face her, leaning back over the edge, feeling gravity pull him off balance. “I can judge my past to help direct my future, but I can only accept my present.” As gravity took him, he called out one last time, “Thank you for checking in.” And he was whisked towards the city streets.

She watched him fall, his clothes flapped about as he righted himself feet down and the grav boots kicked in. His free fall slowed and he rode the air currents around the buildings, gliding through the white, neon streaked canvas of his home.

“Any time.” She said to herself, and looked up to watch the wan stars unveil themselves against the city as twilight gave way to night.

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