The Longest Way Down
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Can two people save each other from themselves?
That’s the journey Anthony Cusato embarks on when he finds a girl standing on the rooftop ledge of a parking garage in downtown Royal Oak on a cold Thursday night in March.
“What does it feel like?”
Did it feel like the weight of forever in one moment? Did it feel like all those months I spent lying on my bed, staring at the ceiling, feeling the piercing stab of what I’d done until it hurt so much I blacked out? Did it feel like punishment for something you’ve done?
“It’s like this void,” she said. “This black hole inside my chest. Sucking from within and taking everything good and bright with it, taking all the light out of the world. It comes from within and takes everything out.”
My heart, already contracting tightly, squeezed even harder. I was all too familiar with that feeling.
“Maura. Maura, look at me, please. Look at me.”
“I know. I know that feeling.” I clutched my chest with my hand. “Please, come down from there. Please, let me help you.”
“You can’t. You don’t understand.” She inched forward. “No one can.”
“Help me, then. I understand more than you think I do.” I struggled to keep my voice even.
The situation was becoming desperate. The turning point was coming soon, one way or the other. An idea started to take shape in my mind. But first, I had to convince her that I knew. That she could trust me.
“Does it feel like fire in your veins, running up and down your body? Like no matter how much you claw and scrape, no matter how much blood you bleed, you can’t find your way out of your own skin?” The words came rushing out of my mouth, desperate to connect to something, to someone.
She stared at me, wide-eyed, looking at me for the first time tonight like there was a chance that I got it. That I understood.
I kept talking because she wasn’t moving towards the edge and I wanted to keep it that way. “What if we got away from here? Just got in the car and left?”
“Are you serious?”
“Deadly.” I winced. Maybe that wasn’t the best word choice at the moment. “I don’t know about you, but the past two months have sucked ass for me. This time of the year, it’s always the hardest for me. So what if we just left it all behind?”
She opened her mouth, her eyebrows pulled together. “I don’t think it works like that.”
“But what if it does? What if it can?” I was hoping as much for me as I was for her. “What if it can be that simple?”