The Falling Man - The Reykjavik Grapevine

The Falling Man

The Falling Man

Published January 17, 2011

William, a small man of great inner proportions, fell through the thin air. He had stopped screaming. He had stopped trying to avoid the inevitable. The green ground beneath him grew ever bigger as window after window passed him with rapid speed. Soon he would crash and die. Soon his life would be over.
As William soared through the air like a broken bird, he tried to recall why he was here, falling mist in formless space. Suddenly the last years became clear, every single thing that had led to William’s fall from Iceland’s only skyscraper. This fall he was stuck in now, seeing the green ground and sidewalk beneath him moving closer and closer with every passing second.
Although his body fell with ever increasing speed, and the wind blew relentlessly, making his eyes water, his ears numb, he managed to recall the beginning of his troubles. It was all because of a small article, which described the events to come in detail, and written by a beautiful woman named Laura.
Laura. Her name was like a poisoned arrow that hit his heart.
William had first met Laura at a New Year’s Eve party in 2010. He remembered the enthusiasm. Everyone was celebrating the end of the first decade, the beginning of the next one, with hopes of a better world finally achieved. Then disaster struck in the first weeks of 2011.
But no one noticed at first.
Laura’s article was short and seemed insignificant. If only people hadn’t been too caught up in their own ways. If only people would have understood the puny article, which later on—years later—would read as an omen for the decade to come.
William was one of few who read the article, frightfully realising the horror around the corner. The only reason he read it was Laura. At the New Year’s party she had mentioned the article to William, stating that it “would change everything.”
How true, William thought while falling through the sky like a plane out of fuel. Although he started preaching about the danger upon humanity, quoting the article, trying to convince others, only a handful listened. The few created a group with William as its front man. However, the general public saw them as eccentrics, calling them fanatics. They were truly a laughing-stock for the first years.
But no one was laughing now. Not that it mattered. It was too late. After the first event occurred everything changed dramatically. Initially people tried to rationalise the event, but no one could hide from the truth. The truth eventually caught up with people in 2016, more than five years after William had first met Laura and read her article. But by 2016 it was too late. By then everything that had happened was irreversible.
Also William’s fall, which seemed never ending. He hadn’t been pushed. He had jumped, but still it wasn’t his decision. Laura could as easily have pushed him. It was their meeting and her article that had led him here.
But all things considered, William wasn’t sad although his life would soon come to a full stop. He knew death was an escape. A cowardly move, some would perhaps say. He had decided to avoid the problem upon the world by jumping.
There hadn’t been the slightest doubt in William’s mind that this was the right decision. Not when he went out this morning, kissing his wife and two daughters in their sleep. Not when he walked calmly up each and every step up the skyscraper. Not when he stood at the top, viewing the city, the mountains, the sun coming up and the calm sea everyone around him. He had felt at ease for the first time in ten years.
The sidewalk was near, also the green grass, which William could now smell. He closed his eyes. Laura was there, behind his eyelids, waiting for him. He had no idea where she hid in the world, maybe she was dead, but her image stayed with William wherever he went. Even now, as he fell from the sky, soon hitting the ground, Laura was with him, torturing him the last seconds of his existence.
The year 2020 would soon come to an end. William wouldn’t be here to witness it. His dead body would lie underneath the ground, in a wooden box. But William didn’t need to see the decade end. He knew how it would end. Laura had described it in her article. Everything she had written had come true. William was sure the decade would end as Laura had predicted. That’s why he had jumped. That’s why he was now falling.
William opened his eyes. The concrete sidewalk was inches away. The green grass reminded him of past springs, of beautiful childhood memories. William opened his arms and hugged the earth.

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