“I’ve come to believe there are things that cannot be changed, like air is needed to make fire. I cannot leave this place any more than the moths can leave a flame once they see its light. I can have no more blood on my hands. My memories of this place keep me here,” I said, facing the balcony.
“What a shame, James—you would have been magnificent at this job,” the man in shadows said.
I waved him on, still facing forward, knowing what I had to do to set things right. I waited a long time, in the silence of the room. It was oddly peaceful; everything felt right at that moment. I stood up, taking the rope with me to the balcony overlooking the ruins of my city.
Down below me were memories, memories that had taken the shape of every form there is. Tall, broad, short, black, white, male, female, the young, and the old. All were fragments of a bigger picture than they realized; all were searching for the meaning of what was in their heads, unable to move on from this place; ghosts of the mind, ghosts of everything I could remember.
I tied the rope to the railing on the balcony; I hoped I had gotten the knot tight enough. I stepped up onto the railing, and thousands of eyes looked upon me: Center stage at the end of the world. I was the final punchline of the entirety of the human race; the last man on Earth would die without anyone to watch.
To my wife, thank you for the joy you gave me in our union. I am truly sorry for the way it became. To my daughters, Daddy is the one to be blamed, not you kiddos. I guess there is a heart after all in this ugly armadillo, I joked to myself. Facing my demise would be grossly mundane if I ended it on a sad note.
Might as well go out with my head held high. “My name is James, and I was a computer guy all my life. I was the best in the world at solving problems. I had a loving wife and a beautiful daughter in every sense of the word. They were mine, and I was theirs. My name is James. I don’t want to remember anymore. I am a ghost of the man I used to be. I—we—are the ghosts of what we used to be.”
I looked over the edge. Seeing all the ghosts below me, I had hoped I wouldn’t become one—but I had. I lifted my right leg and let it hang over the railing. The ledge no longer felt so wide.