This was the first piece of writing I had accepted for publication. It was published by Best Women's Magazine in 1999. It's just under 1000 words which was their word limit for the quick coffee-time read... so if you've got time for a quick read then put the kettle on and I do hope you enjoy it.
Waiting to be rescued by Rosalind Adam
When you’re sitting on a window ledge five storeys up, you’re just grateful it’s not raining. At least that’s what I’ve decided, which isn’t bad for me. I’m not normally the calm, philosophical type. Only this morning I was in a right state when we overslept again.
“Work – who needs it!” I shouted as we both dived for the bathroom. As usual, Alan got there first.
“That’s so typical of you!” he snapped, slamming the door behind him. “You think I should do all the work while you sit at home with your feet up? I’ve just about had enough of your moaning. And you spend far too much money on clothes and make-up and stuff...” He hesitated, obviously seeking more ammunition., “And... and... you never empty the bin until it’s overflowing!” he roared.
I was speechless, and it’s not often that happens to me. Mind you, here, sitting on this ledge, I can think of some amazingly clever replies. But I can’t dwell on Alan – I’ve a fight of my own going on. My brain wants me to look down, but my stomach’s telling me to stare straight ahead at the rooftops.
I’d been about to tackle the weekly financial report. What timing! I’d rather be out on this ledge than doing that. Not that I’m here on purpose. I may sometimes be a little over-excitable but depressed? Never! I was merely trying to clean a dirty mark off the window ledge and I don’t quite know what happened next, but here I am, sitting on a strip of grey concrete with the window firmly shut behind me.
Of course, as soon as I realised what had happened, I tried banging on the glass but it instantly became clear that I needed to cling on with both hands just to stay where I am. Anyway, as soon as someone comes into my office they’ll be sure to see me – it’s just a matter of waiting and keeping very calm.
I start whistling tunes from the musical South Pacific. I’ve read that whistling helps to stop you panicking. I’ve just got to the song about ‘washing that man right out of my hair’, when someone starts shouting from below. I pluck up the courage to look down and see a man in the car park waving up at me. I try to wave back, but think better of it. Anyway, I’ll soon be drinking a nice cup of tea and having a good laugh about all this.
Still clinging on tightly, I gaze out at the view. I can see the main road slicing through the tall buildings like a river cutting through a valley. In the distance, I see flashing blue lights. As they move nearer, I realise they’re on a fire engine, closely followed by a police car.
“What’s going on?” I wonder. Trust me to miss all the fun. As they pull into the car park and little figures jump out and look up to where I’m sitting, I realise I am all the fun...
“Patricia – can you hear me?” shouts a policeman through a loud-hailer.
“Yes,” I shout back. Well, it’s true. I can hear him. I don’t know why he’s down there shouting up at me, but I can certainly hear him. Maybe there’s a fire in the office and I’m about to be rescued on the shoulder of a virile fireman. Then I see the blanket being unfolded beneath me and I realise...
They think I’m going to jump. I open my mouth to tell them they’ve got it all wrong, then start to think about what Alan said this morning. How will he react to all this? He’ll arrive with flowers, chocolates and a blueprint for a brand-new life. He’ll blame himself for not listening and we’ll go for a second honeymoon. I close my mouth and eagerly await his arrival.
Long minutes pass. Alan will be here soon. I try to ease my body into a more comfortable position and start to plan my second honeymoon. China would be nice. Of course, I’ll need some new clothes...
I glance at my watch again. I’ve been here over an hour now. What can be keeping him? Suddenly I think of a different scenario. The police have contacted him and he’s dismissed the whole affair as hysterics or female hormones.
“If the crazy woman thinks she can emotionally blackmail me, she’s got another think coming. Let her jump.” I can almost hear him shout. The police try to reason with him but he remains unmoved.
I start to think of all those times when I’ve given in to him – anything for a quiet life. I can see it all clearly now. I’ve had enough of working till I drop, of never having enough money, of always putting my feelings and needs last. And what’s his complaint? I never empty the bin! I’ll give him female hormones. I’ll jump. That’ll show him.
I let go with one hand and reach out to the vast expanse of air before me. I can feel the wind blowing courage in my face. I’m serene and calm. I close my eyes and allow my other hand to release its grip on the rough concrete. For a moment nothing happens. It’s as if the whole of existence has stopped. Then there’s a noise from behind me. I’m being grabbed firmly by familiar arms. I can smell our soap powder in his shirt and I can feel his tears running onto my face.
One day I’ll tell him about the dirty mark on the window ledge but not yet – not just yet.