Hour 17: The Waiting Room (By Kyle Willis)

Today was the worst in my life.

I got three voicemails today.  One fired me from my job.  One ended my five-year relationship.  And one was from my mother.

I got to the bridge at about 7:00.  It spanned from the good part of town to the bad.  Water rushed underneath.  I never learned to swim, so the proximity of the rocks to the water’s surface was of no matter to me; the job would be done either way.

I swung my legs in the nothingness they hung in.  The October breeze tickled my ears and burned my throat.  

It’s time.

The ninety-foot fall was kinda fun.  About halfway down I became very aware of the golden lion that I’d hung around my neck for the last seventeen years, ever since my father gave it to me the night before he took this very same fall.

I braced for impact.  

Time passed.  My eyes were heavy when I tried to open them.  White florescence flooded the slits in my lids.  It was a chore to face that light fully.

The white light.

Actually, the white room.  Filled with people of all ages.  A place soon explained to me by a six-year-old girl in a purple babydoll dress with a white bow in her hair.  She called this place “THE WAITING ROOM” and told me this was the place where souls waited to die.

Sad it was to see this young girl waiting to transition as I was.  Thankful I was to hear her say souls were also here waiting to be born…and she was one of those.

Those souls waiting to be born were waiting to choose their parents.  

I gave her my sob story.  Not that a six-year-old girl would fully understand.  And she didn’t.  

She did, though, ask if she could have the lion that hung around my neck.  

I wrestled with it in my gut.  This girl meant nothing to me.  But I meant nothing.  Obviously.  Otherwise, I wouldn’t have taken that jump.

She wanted the lion?  Sure.  I gave it to her.

The six-year-old girl gave me an orientation to The Waiting Room.  She brought me to a wall with four windows and told me to look out of the each of the windows.  

These windows looked out at the people whom I’d left.  I saw them from a perspective of a photo they’d had of me.

I looked at my former boss straight in the face as he took my Employee of the Month photo down from the wall in the breakroom.

I looked at my ex-girlfriend from the photo of us on her night table as she engaged in a round of break-up sex with the guy who I’m sure she had broken up with me for.

I looked at my mother from one of the school photos she still had up on her fireplace.  A man was with her.  Beating her.  I assume she owed him the fifty dollars she’d called to ask to borrow from me yesterday.  

Through the fourth window, I saw Lorelai.  Lorelai was the waitress at the diner I used to go to every morning on the way to job at which I was once Employee of the Month.  She was pretty, and she made me feel good.

And now, she was crying.

I’m guessing news of my jump has circulated by now.

Lorelai wasn’t just crying.  She was sobbing.  Uncontrollably.  I saw in her glassy eyes something I’d never seen before.  

Love.

Was Lorelai in love with me?  Did I want her to be?

I was shaken to my core.  I did want her to be.  I had no idea why, but in that sobbing woman I saw a single reason to keep going.

Then I thought of my mother.  If I go now, I can’t protect her.

I thought of my job.  I can get back on that wall.

Suddenly, I knew I needed out of the Waiting Room.

I fought.  I fought.  I fought.  

The next time I opened my eyes, I was back on the bridge.  

The jump had never happened.  Time had turned back.

I gave my mother the money she needed.

I told my boss I’d once pissed in his coffee mug.

I called her back and said I had been on the DL with the guy she was about to have break-up sex with.

And then I went to the Diner…ordered my usual biscuits n’ gravy…then asked Lorelai on a date.

Three years later, Lorelai and I were married.  Another year after that, she crushed my hand in the delivery room as she gave birth to our daughter.

Lorelai held her first.  Then it was my turn.  

And that little hand reached up and grabbed the lion that still hung around my neck.  

And I knew that little girl in the purple babydoll dress and white bow in her hair had picked me.

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