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You knew he was going to be up here.

Like a shadow in the dark, he hides. Not from you, but from the glare that would make him show up. He doesn’t like sticking out, he doesn’t like the passing glances looking him up and down. He chooses, instead, to melt in with the dark around him. Quietly confident, he doesn’t do anything but stare at you with cold eyes.

Cold eyes. Cold enough to freeze you with one glance. Freeze you, stop you from going further. Stop you, he will. He’s determined to, and one look can tell you that. Can tell you everything.

“And to think that you were the good brother,” he sneers.

You shrug. “Things change.” You turn away from him. There’s nothing that you want to hear that’s going to come from his mouth, only reasons for you to stop, and surely, you’re not going to stop once you’ve come this far, are you?

Are you?

“What did you do now? Break a window? Kiss Susie from next door?” His voice drips with sarcasm, and you wonder how he could ever be so ignorant. He was always the clever one, the one who knew everything, the one who knew too much for his own good… but like you said before, things change.

“Or is it Dad again?”

… well, maybe, not everything. Some things don’t change. Like your father’s… tendencies. You can’t even tell him that he’s right, as usual, because there are some things that you just can’t talk about. Some things you can’t make yourself say. Some truths that are not meant for his ears to hear.

“That’s… that’s none of your business. Of course it’s… notbecauseofhim,” you lie, knowing that you sound ridiculous. You’ve never been a good liar. Of course it’s because of him, you father, that you’re here. What else could drive you to this place?

“Then why else would you be standing on the thirtieth floor of a building at some ungodly hour?” he asks breezily.

“I needed some fresh air,” you answer wryly, turning so that you’re facing him. Or, at least, in his general direction, although the most you can see of your brother is the little circle of light marking the end of his cigarette and his eyes shining in the dark. “And why are you here?”

The end of the cigarette glows as he takes a drag on it. “I’m always here. I thought you knew that.”

You did.

You knew that he was going to be up here, and that’s why you picked this particular building. That’s why you stand in front of him, watching the moving Cyclops-eye of the cigarette as it dances in the air, the death-stick burning like the rage in your soul and in his eyes. You’re waiting for something, you’re waiting for him to stop you because he’s the only one who can. You’re counting on him to be the sympathetic brother tonight, otherwise everything will be wasted.

You can just imagine the look of indecision on his face… imagine the stone eyes staring, darting from side to side as he thinks, the lips pursed together, nostrils quivering slightly as he thinks. After all, it’s the same face that stared back at you from the mirror earlier this evening.

He’s the only one who stopped you from going over the edge- figuratively. Now you’re waiting to see if he’s going to stop you from going over the edge literally, if he’s going to stop you from jumping. Just like the good brother he’s supposed to be.

“Anyway,” you whisper.

“Anyway,” he whispers back, “I guess I’m supposed to stop you now.”

“Yeah. That’s what you’re supposed to do.”

You turn your back to him and walk to the very edge of the building. You could jump right now, and there wouldn’t be a soul that could save you. You could step over that invisible boundary and disappear from the world altogether.

But that’s not what you came up here for.

You could jump, but you’d rather sit up here a while, just sit up here and enjoy the view, your legs dangling thirty stories above the ground. You could jump.

But you don’t.

“Cigarette?” he asks, and you’re vaguely aware of him coming to sit next to you, all shadow and stealth and the sweet smell of silver smoke that you really can’t stand. You can’t see his face but it’s not like you need to; you know every single line and scar because it’s the same face that’s been staring back at you from the mirror for all these months. You can feel the tension that radiates off his body, so tangible, like it’s always been, and you idly wonder why you can’t share his intensity of emotion like you share your physical characteristics.

But you don’t tell him that; let him enjoy his cigarette, let him think that he’s in control of this situation.

“No thanks,” you reply. “I’d rather you get on with convincing me not to jump. Save us both a little time.”

He chuckles, a sound that’s so alien coming from his lips that you almost wonder if you’re on the right rooftop, if this isn’t some other maniac you’ve been talking to and calling brother.

“You do know that if you don’t hit the ground at the right angle, you could survive? And that there’s actually a charge for suicide?”

“Attempted suicide,” you correct him. “I don’t think it’s possible to arrest someone who’s already dead.”

“Oh, yeah. Point.” He flicks the ash off the end of his cigarette, and you’re tempted to look at him, but you just stare down instead. “Anyway.”


He coughs. “Why d’you expect me to stop you? It’s not like life’s much better. Not with that… that…”

“That… bastard.” The word is heavy on your lips, and you feel uncomfortable saying it, feel uncomfortable with the lies you’re having to tell.

“Not exactly the word I’m looking for, but it’ll do for now,” he remarks dryly, and in a moment, you’re aware of his hand resting on the back of your own, a hand that has a finger missing and skin that’s so rough you wonder that if he can feel the difference you feel, if he can feel the smoothness, if he can feel the cold, clammy dampness that’s spreading over you.

You wonder if he can feel your apprehension, your nervousness at being in this situation.

You wonder if he’ll ever understand.

“Life may not be that much better, but. It’s life. It’s sacred. You’re supposed to value it… to save it…” you try to explain, although you know that your words are nothing but lies. Lies that even you can’t make yourself believe.

“I can’t stop you. I’ve seen the other side of death quite a few times and it sounds pretty inviting, you know, that whole idea of eternal sleep… I can’t stop you looking for that. I can’t.”

“Why can’t you?”

“You’re asking a guy who’s tried to commit suicide, to stop you from doing the same?”

“Who else would?” you shoot back.

“Anyone would.”

“I don’t see anyone else around.”

“That’s because you didn’t want anyone to see you,” he retorts, and his hand drops to his side. “You didn’t want anyone to see you, because you didn’t want anyone to know, you didn’t want anyone to stop you. You could jump from this very building in the day time, and you’d be all over the blasted front pages, but at night, you know there’s no one around. Except me.” He sighs, a visible cloud of desperation and sadness escaping his lips. “And I’m not exactly the best at this life thing, you know. I don’t even know why I’m still here…”

I know, you think. I know very well that you’re not the best at life. So I’m doing you a favor.

But you don’t say anything. You don’t know what you should say, what you should not say. It seems so odd, this whole situation. What he thinks and what you know. What you really mean to do and how he can’t help change your mind, because you’re so determined to go ahead with your plan you ignore everything else.

The little voice in your head, that little thing called a conscience? You killed it a long time ago. You murdered any grain of reason that you had as a pledge of allegiance to your God, to your father. You worship at his shrine of Wealth, and you drink from the cup of his Perfection.

Only, there was one sacred rite that you had not performed yet, and the cup was snatched from your lips before you could taste the satisfaction of Perfection.

The altar in the shrine of Wealth lies empty, devoid of sacrifice.

You can only get your share, you can only be perfect in the eyes of your father if you do this one deed for him. If you find a permanent solution to this problem called your brother.

You can only be perfect if you obey your father’s wishes and kill your twin. Smash the mirror, and grind the shards into dust. It would have been so much easier if he had actually died that time he had tried to take his life by his own hands; but no, he had to keep on living, had to attract attention to your quiet life and turn it upside-down with his accusations of physical and sexual abuse against your father. Why couldn’t he have just been a good son, like you, and lapped it up? You never told anyone the family secret, but he shouted it for the world to hear. He almost ruined your father’s life, your life…

You were always the perfect son. You owed it to your father to do this… ‘small’ job for him. And, no doubt, you would be well rewarded for your efforts.

You even made the perfect plan, like the perfectionist that you are. Gain his sympathy, get him close to the edge, and when everything’s in place, all you’d have to do is give him a little push. That’s all. Just make it look like an accident, or, given his history, another attempt at suicide. All you have to do is stick to the plan, just do the deed and get out of here. It’s that simple. It’s so easy, and…

“No one will ever know,” you whisper softly to the air, the darkness hiding your smile but not your voice.

“No one will ever know what?” he asks, shifting slightly so that the cloak of shadows slips from his face, and for the first time that evening, you can actually see the scars etched so deeply in his skin. It’s like looking into a cracked mirror, the distorted image and the stains from blood tears of long ago marring what would have been a copy of perfection. The cheeks are just as hollow, and the lines around his eyes can’t hide the fire that still burns in them, as in yours.
But a broken mirror could never reflect perfection, and you can’t help but smile in satisfaction as you see how the same nose, the same eyes, the same lips and the same face have been twisted until they only reflect shadows, until the only copy of perfection has been erased so that his face looks more like a badly rendered portrait than your reflection.

“No one will ever know… what happened up here,” you say slowly, savoring each word because the poor fool that is your brother could not possibly know what’s going through your mind; he has no idea that his death is your main purpose in life. He was always too human, too imperfect to ignore those emotions you divorced from yourself years ago, and you’re counting on his main weakness.

“No witnesses, eh?” his voice is cold, bitter.

“No witnesses. Unless you tell.”

“How would I be able to say anything if I’m the one dying tonight? There are no witnesses, just like all those other times. Tell me, did our perverse paternal relation come up with this plan or did you?”

How- how does he know? He’s not supposed to figure it out!

“What? T-there’s no plan… you’re m-m-mistaken,” you sputter.

Feigned surprise does not become you. You can hear the high pitch of your voice, hear your panic before you can feel it.


“I’m serious! I can’t… how could you… you’re my brother!”

“In blood, yes. Unfortunately.” The edge in his voice unnerves you further. “But if you think that after everything that’s happened, I’m going to believe you, then you’re the one who’s mistaken. Very sadly mistaken,” he sneers.


“You love yourself too much to even think about suicide!”


“You only came looking for me because you wanted me out of the way!”

“I…” You get to your feet, scrambling to keep your balance because now that you look at it, the ground looks so far away. You can feel the fire in his voice, the hatred you always felt but never showed so thick you could almost touch it.

“You’re only a slave, a slave to the world,” he growls. “A slave to an animal who pretends to be your father.”

“Shut up!”

“Does he still pat you on the head? Do you like it when he treats you like a dog?”

Shut up!”

“Tell me, do you really think he cares?” he pauses, breathing hard. “Have you ever thought that maybe he’s just using you for a quick-“

“SHUT UP!” you roar, cutting him off, blind fury coursing through your veins as you rush at him, arms outstretched. He won’t ruin your plan, he won’t, he won’t, he won’t… there’s no way you can let him live, there’s no way or everything’s lost, everything that you’ve wanted, that you’ve taken so much pain for…

Even as you tackle him to the ground, you hear him laughing like a madman, you hear his laugh as the both of you roll towards the edge. The edge is close, so close…

“You can’t win!” he shouts and laughs again, and by this time you’re sure that he’s crazy. You lash out at him and he dodges your fist, but the edge is too close now and you hear his yelp as he passes over the edge, his fingers barely grabbing onto you in time to save himself from plummeting to the ground. He’s still laughing though, insane laughter that terrifies you as you try to pry his fingers from your skin.

Panic. It’s an alien emotion, but you’ve aware, you’re very aware of it now, aware of it like you’re aware of his fingers pulling at you, aware of it like you’re aware of the sounds of his struggling. In your panic, all you can understand is that you have to get his hands off of you, you have to run, you have to let him fall, you have to, have to, have to get away from here because your plan’s gone horribly wrong, and your first instinct is to lean forward to try and push him down.

Big mistake.

You don’t know what happens first, but you do know that he grins, a sick, satisfied grin, and you can hear him saying something, but what, you’re not really sure because he clutches at your leg, at your arms, at any part of your body that he can reach so that you’re both locked in a fatal embrace that’s hurtling towards the ground at only-god-knows-how-many miles per hour.

Now it’s the mirror’s turn to smile.

Now all you’re aware of is the rushing wind as your arms flail, still trying to release themselves from his grip, his eyes, a dark mirror of irony as the ground rushes closer, and his voice echoing in your brain before you crash into the pavement.

“If I die… so do you.”



© Marziya Mohammedali, 2001-2013