• My eyes open slowly, the bright morning light laying delicately on my face. I look around. Where is this place? I feel something move besides me, a slight up and down motion. I hear it, too—the sound of life. I know that sound well.

    I turn onto my right side, my left side thanking me for the relief, and see the back of a beautiful figure lying beside me, her ribs rising and falling at every breath. Her dark tan skin glistened in the sunlight, her silky brown hair falling over her shoulders and spilling onto her bare back. She must be beautiful, a young aspired college student looking for a good party and a good time.

    But she’s not Tessa.

    I breathe in deeply, and, trying not to disturb her, rise from the bed and walk over to the large window. I look out and greet the dawn, examining the landscape of the city that surrounds me. The suburbs in which I once lived in were nothing like this mess. Buildings are scattered everywhere as far as the eye could see. Streets create a maze among the chaos, littered by the newest and hottest brands of cars. All un-appealing to me. But after all, Tessa wanted me to go to a university. She wanted me to party, to get on with life.

    But I can’t. Better yet, I don’t want to.

    She shifts, I can hear her, over onto her left side. I turn around to greet her gaze. Her big eyes meets mind before darting to the black digital clock on the nightstand.

    “Bloody hell!” she says, her eyes getting wide as she begins to quickly rise. “Ouch!” She falls back down onto the white feather pillow, massaging her head.

    “Hangover,” I say, my arms folded. The side of my lips curls up into a half smile as I watch her struggling to get up. Finally, she gives up and crawls back under the sheets, embarrassed. “First time?” I ask, walking over to the sink and grabbing a clean glass nearby and filling it with water.

    “Mmmmm, yeah,” she replies from behind me.
    The quiet room fills with the sound of water hitting the bottom of the glass. I begin to hear activity behind me, her probably attempting to quietly put her clothes back on without me noticing. I chuckle and keep my back turned to her until I hear her legs sliding back under the sheets.

    “Here, this will help,” I say, bringing her the glass of water. She looks up at me with her big blue eyes before taking the glass and sipping it. I smile and turn to close the shades but then stop. Blue…. That was Tessa’s color. Tessa…. Tessa?

    “Oi, you alright mate?” the girl says. I move closer to the window. Blonde hair… did I just see that?

    “Did you just see that?” I asked, pointing to the left side of the sliding patio door. “The hair, I saw blonde hair just off to the side.”

    “Ummmm, no?” she looked at me with concern in her voice.

    “But I just saw…” I began, but stopped, realizing how crazy I sounded. Tessa isn’t alive. She can’t be. She died two years ago, didn’t she? I couldn’t just have seen her beautiful blonde hair being whisped around by the gentle breeze outside.

    There is was again.
    Did I just see her face?
    Suddenly I find myself walking quickly towards the patio door.

    Tessa!” I whisper under my breath.

    “Tessa? Who is Tessa?” the girl behind me says, but I pay no attention to her. My mind is focused on the glass door in front of me. Everything around me is brought out of focus as my hand reaches for the handle. All I can hear is my heavy breathing. I touch the handle, feeling the coldness of the metal against my skin.

    The door slides open with ease. A rush of the brisk chilly air rushes in as I step out onto the cold patio with my bare feet. I look to my left, then to my right.
    Nothing. There is nobody out here. Tessa isn’t out here.

    I look around in bewilderment. She has to be here. I saw her. I walk over to the edge of the balcony and lean over the railing, looking down. The streets crowded with people coming from and going to classes.

    Something catches the corner of my eye. I whirl around and noticed something is written on the door. I move closer. Writing is etched in the dirt and dust.

    I will wait for you.
    ♥ Tessa

    She was here. I think to myself. That’s her handwriting! Tessa…… Tessa I am coming!

    “Oi, mate? What the bloody hell are you doing?” the girl asks. I can hear her get up from the bed and run over to the doorway as I move towards the railing. I look back at her, a crazed expression on my face, I can tell by the way she is looking at me that I must look crazy. Maybe I am.

    I put my foot on the railing and hoist myself up. Straddling the bar, I swing my other leg over. Now, standing on the other side of the railing on the little piece of cold concrete that is separating me and Tessa, I look at the people down below, holding onto the bar with my hands, and watch people gather and point.

    “Oh my God, what are you doing?” the girl shrieks, frozen in her place. I look back and see her hands on her mouth, her eyes wide. Then, inside, I see the wisp of blonde hair again.

    A lamp falls from the nightstand and smashes to pieces. The girl jumps and looks inside.

    Another one falls.

    A plant pot sitting on the patio is knocked over. I look around in confusion, then realize it’s Tessa.

    “Oh my God!” the girl screams. I look at her staring at the glass door where Tessa wrote her note. New words are being formed.

    “Read it to me!” I yell at the girl. She looks at me in bewilderment and horror. “Read it!”

    She snaps out of her shocked state and moves closer to the writing, timid and scared. “It says: Don’t do this! I love you!”

    “Tessa! Don’t you get it? I am doing this for you! I miss you! I want to be with you!” I yell at air, imagining her looking at me with her big blue eyes. I see writing again, messy and fast. The girl looks at me, tears streaming down her face. Then she notices where I am looking and begins to read it again.

    “It says ‘I know! But I want you to live your life! I love you too much for you to throw it away! I will wait for you! I promise! Please Adam, don’t do this! It’s not supposed to be like this! You’re breaking my heart!”
    Now tears are streaming down my face, too. Through blurred vision, I see the girl looking at me, crying, praying.

    I love you, Tessa, I think to myself. More than you will ever know.

    I look down, more people are gathering. I hear sirens in the distance. Such a long fall….

    “Please don’t, please don’t, please don’t,” I hear the girl whispering. I close my eyes, letting the tears roll down. Tears that were long overdue.
    I remember the day Tessa died. We were all there; her mum, dad, Cal. All gathered around her bed, all touching her. All watching her take her last and final shallow breath. I didn’t cry.

    I remember my last few nights with her. I didn’t lie in her bed with her like she wanted. I remember at night, I could feel her eyes on my back, staring down at me, pleading. Why didn’t I sleep with her when she needed me most?
    I remember Cal, teaching him magic tricks while Tessa was sleeping… I would never leave her room.

    And I remember finding her list she wrote on the back of her wall, reading all of her wishes scrolled onto the wall with pencil or pen. Seeing her drawings of Zoey’s unborn baby. I knew she wanted to live long enough for that. I wrote everything she wanted me to do down, and made it a goal to fulfill them in her memory.

    I remember our first kiss… our last… our first time…

    Everything is coming back in one rush.

    The smell of her hair, the touch of her skin on mine. I remember when she first told me about her list of things she wants to do before she dies.
    I breath in and open my eyes. Can I take this anymore? This suffering? This pain?
    I close my eyes again. I feel the cold metal against my hand one more time. The breeze against my face. I remember once more.
    And I let go of the bars. I feel the air rushing through me. I hear the crowd below scream. I remember one last time.

    My mom.
    Her garden.
    Tessa’s eyes.
    Tessa’s lips.

    ALTERNATE ENDING (begin where the dashed line is)

    I hear a whisper in my ear, so faint, like the wind. “Yes, you can,” it says.
    And I listen to it.

    “Help me,” my voice chokes as it cracks. I turn to look at the girl behind me. She looks up from her hands. Tears stain her face. “Help me, please.”

    She gets up quickly and runs towards me. The fire truck arrives as she helps me turn around to face the patio again. Every part of me is shaking while the girl helps me climb back over the railing. I fall to the ground, hugging it. She bends down to help me back up, but I grab onto her shirt. She gets on her knees and sits right in front of me as I bury my face in her shirt. And I cry my heart out for the first time since Tessa’s death.

    The girl embraces me and begins to cry with me.

    Tessa… I love you.