The artist is going to do something extraordinary today.
He is going to do what no man has done.
He has set it up for months, and he is going to do something extraordinary today, in the name of love.
He straps a camera around his neck, turns it on and stands up to stretch out.
If he’s going to do this, he’ll need to warm up.
He puts his hands together and lifts his arms above his head with his feet apart, feeling the stretch in his lower back, and then he bends forward and touches his toes with the tips of his fingers.
He gets up and looks around, and he finally leans over the railing.
He has to steady himself.
The city is … the city is … he struggles to find the word, but it comes to him eventually – magnetic.
That’s it. Magnetic.
Its nightlife is a parade of colors, a paradise for the frantic, the energetic, the ambitious, the loud, the quiet, and everything and everyone in between.
It beckons and it summons, with its bright lights and skyscrapers towering over highways that seem to stretch on forever …
He decides that, surely, the view can only get better when he is on his way.
He retreats, lowers his gaze and stares at his grubby road cycle shoes.
He wonders if he can do it, and shakes his head to clear his mind.
Don’t think. Just do.
He takes a step and trembles slightly. He has not thought about how thin the metal may feel under the ball of his foot.
He’s not sure he likes the sound of this very much, after all.
The first step is always the hardest, he reminds himself. Everything will be much easier from here on out.
He adjusts his collar, runs his fingers through his hair and takes a deep breath.
He hopes his nerves subside soon.
He puts a second foot forward, right in front of the first, on the thin wire that runs across the harbor, its ends secured on the edge of the two rooftops spread miles away.
He shimmies and makes his way across, focusing on his own breathing, feeling the rise and fall of his chest.
He is 400 feet in the air and not even breaking a sweat. Steady now, he thinks.
A few more steps in, and he has found his balance. He feels invincible.
He looks to his left and spots the bank — oh, the bank, the Bank of China. It shines in the distance, and the jagged lines on the building remind him of the first day of the rest of his life.
He thinks he must have been blind before he met Adelaide.
Some people have that effect on you. You see them once – at a bookshop, maybe, or at a bus stop – you see them briefly, and you have seen something so beautiful that you can’t see the world the same way again.
Afterward, you tell yourself how lucky you are to be alive at the same time as they are, how lucky you are that the stars aligned this exact way for you to catch a glimpse of them.
He can’t believe how lucky he was then – and he still feels the same now, every day – that he even got to know her name at all.
He looks at the skyscraper and recalls the spring of 2006 – yes, it is all coming back to him clearly now.
The busy cubicles, the hushed whispering hanging in the cool air, the Post-It notes stuck on walls, the clicking of leather brogues and suede high heels knocking on the hardwood floor.
He had walked over to where she was sitting, feeling a strange attraction to her, but hesitant.
She looked up, bright and starry-eyed, smack in the middle of his field of view, and it was in that moment – in the gaze she held — that he knew.
It is she, he had thought then. It is she indeed, the woman he had been searching for his whole life.
She is the right one.
“Did you want the minutes to the board meeting?” she had asked and held up a blue ring file.
Yes, he nodded, smiling boyishly.
Of course. The minutes to the meeting. Of course he did.
That was what he came for, actually. How did she know? That was exactly what he came for.
He took the file with one hand and slid it under his arm casually, thanked her, turned around swiftly.
He prepared to leave, but she called him back, and she asked if he would like to, perhaps, get a coffee sometime?
He feels beads of perspiration trickle down his temple, and he thinks his nose is itchy.
It is the breeze, he thinks — it is the wind from the sea.
Stay focused. Stay balanced. Don’t look down.
He is glad he returned then. Coffees lead to salads lead to dinners lead to breakfast on Sundays.
Now of course, it doesn’t always work. This is not a foolproof formula.
But the trick is to have each cup of coffee with the confidence it will lead to the sunny side up eggs on avocados someday.
They’ve been married for over four years now — five years tomorrow — and he never told her that he was never in the board meeting to begin with.
He thinks he might go tell her tomorrow, actually, when he shows her this unbelievable video he has taken all by himself. It is going to be the best anniversary gift.
He tilts his head, looking up at the night sky.
He can’t see a thing apart from the radiant glow of the city below, and he feels an almost euphoric rush.
Just think about how Adelaide will react tomorrow!
He imagines her holding her breath then with each step he takes, heavy with jitters, her cheeks sucked in, her neat brows furrowed, the way she always is when something perplexed her.
Now, he doesn’t want to perplex her. He just wants to leave her baffled with this video no one has ever seen before.
Five years tomorrow, and she still makes him feel brand new.
He just wants to make sure he makes her feel the same.
He is filled with adrenaline – he feels as though if he is not careful, his heart may actually jump out of his chest.
Fifty feet to go, he muses to no one in particular, and he moves forward, feeling more confident than ever.
That’s it, attaboy. Don’t think. Just do.
A couple of steps further, and he sees the JW Marriott now.
He lets out a slow exhale. The red neon sign on the building reminds him of Adelaide’s dress – the beautiful, slightly torn red dress she had worn on their wedding day.
It was the autumn of 2015, and it was probably the most important autumn of all the autumns in his entire life.
He lowers his gaze and watches as a light comes on in a row through the glass windows, and he thinks he remembers everything.
There were the chandeliers, the lavish headpieces, the tablecloths draped in pleasant, muted tones of cream and pink.
The music, he recalls. There was the music, the wedding band waxing poetic to smooth jazz.
And then of course, there were the people. Parents, siblings, relatives, distant relatives, friends, co-workers … the ballroom was loud and drunk and warm, and he feels a rush of blood rise in his cheeks.
But all of this had just been to set the scene, he thinks to himself as he places one foot in front of the other again and again.
In the end, everything blended into the background, the cacophony of sounds drowned out and tucked neatly away the moment he saw Adelaide.
She had her hair up – she was smiling for a photo, and she was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.
She stood a few feet from him with her hand in his, and he was astonished the whole time.
It was the gentle feeling of wonder, of awe — he was wonderstruck. He could not believe his eyes.
She looked at him then, and tried to tap him on the nose with a finger so he could snap out of his trance, but her ring got stuck in her dress. The fabric was torn, but it didn’t matter in the end.
He is getting the hang of this now, he thinks to himself.
There is something spectacular about a bird’s eye view of the city. It feels sacred to be so high up, suspended in the air like a magic man. He just has to keep going.
Don’t think. Just do. Don’t think. Just do. Don’t think. Just do. Don’t –
He makes the mistake of looking down briefly – he thinks he felt a bird swoop past his feet, and at once, he feels a rush of blood to his head.
The wire beneath his feet feels funny, and his knees buckle when he realises he is hovering in the middle of the sky.
His arms, still outstretched, feel sore now. He looks at his wedding ring, just for a second – for reassurance, maybe – but he loses his balance.
His legs give in and his left foot slips when he tries to bring it forward again, and he leans forward with his arms held out on his sides again, in hopes of regaining his balance. But he trips over his right foot, and then – in one swift, graceful motion – he falls.
He must have screamed then, let out a regretful gasp, a desperate cry for help, a wave of his clammy hands to hold on to something – anything.
He doesn’t remember – this is quicker than anything he has ever imagined.
He falls through space, and his mind is a flurry.
He is certain of nothing but Adelaide waiting for him at home after a long day of work, and he wants nothing but to hold onto her hand.
The metropolis glows warmly as it always does, and it barely hears a splash as he plunges into the sea with a force so strong that it tears him apart.
No heads turn. No minds pay any attention.
There is a moment of violence, and then it is over.
Life carries on. Peace is restored.
He is here, trapped in the deep blue far below, and Adelaide is somewhere else, waiting for the familiar sound of the front door unlocking as their dinner grows cold.
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