The Kiss That Saved A Life
Based on the true story
The river was a long way down. Chub squeezed his eyes shut and tried to calm the throbbing in his head. His hands felt clammy as they clutched and unclutched the railing.
Will I feel it? he thought, as he gazed at the murky surface threading its way south through the city. South. He always liked south.
Or will I be unconscious before I hit the water? He shivered. It looked very cold. He didn't want to hesitate. He knew he would lose his nerve if he waited much longer. No, he had spent so long steeling himself into it. A small group had gathered on the waterfront, looking up anxiously at the miniature figure far above them. He didn't like the look of them. And some of the people had cellphones. The fire service would be there soon, and the cops and ambulances. He didn't want publicity. He wanted to go quietly.
I should have come at night, after all, Chub told himself. But he pushed aside the random thoughts that had gathered at this critical moment to delay him.
He looked out across the city. He wouldn't look long, but he wanted to make the last time worth it. There was nothing to see but miles and miles of hopeless, drab buildings, and traffic, traffic crawling forever into the dimness, like rats all hurrying to their holes. Traffic and rats and holes. That was all that was left of this world...
He sighed, closed his eyes. He didn't want to see himself falling. Chub let go.
Eighteen-year-old Chara Chia had spent her Saturday sleeping in, hanging out at the park with friends and shopping. It was nice to indulge in a bit of relaxation and have a break from work – the week had lasted forever, it seemed. Especially with that tiresome new co-worker, Michael Davis. He seemed to make everything unpleasant.
But she didn't mind putting up with the little inconveniences of life. She felt young, with a world before her that needed her – in some way, somehow, and she would find out soon. She loved her family and her family loved her, and she had good friends and dreams for the future.
Her parents had started out married life in extreme poverty. But their strength had carved a way for the children that would come after them. The mines had provided Chara's father with a job and some money, and then when the children grew up the family moved to the city so that Chara and her brothers could have a good education. This had meant separations from Mr. Chia, but they got by. Now he could afford to travel frequently between his job and his family. In fact, he was soon to be transferred to a better job where he could work near his family, but still involved in the mines he loved.
And Chara was especially happy because her dad was coming home that evening for a two-week break.
She was wandering home across the city bridge, enjoying the late-afternoon winter sunshine, when she saw him. No one else had apparently noticed the solitary figure leaning out from the railing in the shadow of one of the central bridge pillars.
Darkness, cold, despair... Chub felt himself falling, falling into an abyss that would never end. He heard groans and weeping and shattered cries, far away, deep within that starless night.
He felt cold and afraid. He wanted to go home, but where was home and what was it? The word seemed to offer some kind of warmth and safety, but he did not know what it meant, or why it had come to mind.
He looked back down the tunnel, but there was no light, no hope or return. He could only go deeper into the shadows of torment. And from them came a whispering sound that rose to a loud hiss in his ears. He wanted to clamp his hands over his ears and shut out the sound, but his arms felt very heavy and numb. Or were they there at all?
He tried to cry out. Help! he shouted. But he realized with horror that his lips were sealed shut with something slippery that oozed into his mouth. Somewhere far back in the subconscious of his mind, the thought he had hit the water, that everything was in slow motion.
The hissing rose to a deafening crescendo. Suddenly he realized he was not falling anymore. He was quite stationary. He was on the edge of a crevasse that fell far out of sight, into the depths of the earth.
Then with a sudden movement, a whirlwind of light, a hand reached out of the darkness and grabbed him, jerking him upwards. The abyss closed before him and he watched the shadows scatter.
Chub came up spluttering for breath. He expected to feel water all around him, but he felt nothing. No, it was everything – it was air, clean, pure air. His feet stood on something firm.
Then he felt the hand.
"Are you all right?" Chara said, clinging desperately to the shirt collar of the young man before her. He couldn't have been older than eighteen. Dark hair, bronzed face and slanted eyes like her own. But in their depths she saw a darkness she had never known before.
"Yeah, I'm fine," he said, his eyes flaring as he shrugged away her hand. But she didn't release her firm grip.
"You weren't going to jump, were you?" Her voice was accented, like his own. It was the first time he had heard a voice like his own in a very long time. And it was a sweet, cheerful voice, reminding him of the sunlight he so hated.
He didn't reply.
"My name's Chara. What's yours?"
She glanced around them, feeling a bit awkward. "Can we talk?" she said at last.
Her eyes flickered beyond him to the police and ambulance vehicles on the waterfront. Chub had apparently not noticed the two firemen creeping towards them in the shadow of the bridge pillars. Chara knew she had to buy time.
"I think we need to talk," she repeated.
"About what?" he snapped. "There's nothing to talk about."
Good, she thought. At least he's talking to me.
"Maybe you need to think a little bit before... I mean, shouldn't you find someone to talk to? There are people who can help you, if you're feeling depressed."
He turned away, his fingers closing over the railing.
"This isn't just a feeling, okay? Can you leave me alone?"
The firemen were close, but any minute Chub could look around and see them. And then he would jump, before they could reach him. She sensed the two firemen poised to spring to the rescue, but the distance between them was too great.
"Can't you see?" she cried desperately. "Sunshine and beauty and people and laughter!"
Chub half turned. She watched as he leaned forward, no longer aware of her. She knew he was going to jump. A great impulse sprung up into her and with snake-like speed she stretched out an arm, pulled him around and pressed her lips to his.
In that kiss Chub felt warmth, home, love...humanity. For a moment completely stunned, he lost himself in that kiss with a complete stranger. Happiness, beauty and curiosity for life sparked inside him.
But it disappeared as quickly as it came when strong, manly hands clutched him, he was torn away from that kiss and pulled up from the edge. He flailed and lashed out at his rescuers, but he no longer had any heart for the fight. He gave in and allowed himself to be subdued.
He gazed at Chara's shoes as he was handcuffed. People were suddenly aware of him. He heard voices, and clapping, but it was all so far away. They dragged him to his feet and pushed him into a police car. As the car pulled away, he caught a glimpse through the window of the girl, surrounded by a group of people talking and gesticulating excitedly, congratulating her, clapping, questioning.
But she stared past them at the rear of the retreating police car.
She didn't even know his name.
Please let me know how I did with a quick review!
This story is based on a true story. Footage can be viewed on YouTube.
And for the fans, Chub and Chara may be back in a sequel coming soon...
Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed.