This story is by Iva Pehar and was part of our 2018 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Gabby sat at the edge of the rooftop. She held her firefighter helmet, thought of not being worthy of it occurred her mind making her eyes watery. She quickly fixed her gaze on the city that laid in front of her, clothed in sunset mist while sky looked like a watercolour piece with orange, pink, purple, blue and teal shades mixing yet being independent parts of the picture. It appeared serene, unlike Gabby`s shaken mind.
She couldn`t get over what she had done that day. For the worse, she hasn`t spoken to anyone, she decided to be her own judge. And unfortunately, she found herself guilty.
„You don`t wanna do that.“ A stranger who suddenly appeared beside her said. At first, Gabby has been stunned at how he managed to get to her unnoticed. But then, she has been too disturbed to keep an eye on her surroundings.
„It may seem like a good idea now, but trust me, you`d regret it.“ Gabby threw a puzzled look at the odd man who spoke and admiringly stared at the city.
„What are you talking about? Who are you?“ She asked.
„Suicide.“ He spoke with such ease as if he had said chocolate.
He turned to look at her. „Someone who can help. A friend, if you want.“
Gabby found herself becoming even more confused; How the hell could he know what she`s been thinking about?
While different thoughts emerged her mind, Gabby never took eyes off him. The man was young, probably in mid to late twenties, like herself. And he was almost indescribably beautiful, but what stood out to her the most was the deepest, brightest pair of eyes she had ever seen; a sunray shone right on them and it appeared as it broke into millions of shattered sparkles which floated in the ocean, unruffled yet unpredictable ocean, of his two blue irises.
Recollecting herself, Gabby broke the eye contact. „I`ll burn in Hell anyway, what`s the difference if it starts now or in thirty years?“ Words came out muffled since she sat on the floor with her head on her knees and her arms around them.
„The difference is greater than you could imagine. Besides, every soul finds its place by Lord after cleansing.“
„I`ve seen the cross.“ He said gesturing at her necklace after she served him another puzzled stare.
„Not only I haven`t deserved a place in Heaven, but in Purgatory neither; I am beyond forgiveness.“ She spoke with such great despair it hurt him. Not that he would ever show it. „Let me guess your sins; you didn`t attend church on Sundays, you disobeyed your parents, spoke bad words at times-„ he listed when she cut him.
„Killed a man.“
„That might be a little problem.“ He spoke in an attempt to make a joke, but she just gave him an emotionless glance.
„The robbery turned to fire at the mall?“ Gabby nodded not looking at him.
„I`ve been checking the third floor, my partner took one lady and we were about to leave when I noticed a man on the ground; I recognized him from the news, it was that guy who set a fire and killed a family two weeks ago.“ She spoke.
„No one was there except the two of us, nobody would have known if there had been anyone else,” Gabby said, her eyes still fixed somewhere far away, as emotions buried deep under her mask of strength started to swim their way out to the surface.
“I looked at him, arrogantly, knowing that I could save him or leave him to die, in agony, just like he did with that family,“ Gabby spoke, with contempt for the darkness inside her.
“It turned out I`ve been too indecisive: flames reached higher and parts of the ceiling started to fall between us; there was nothing I could do anymore. It was too late.”
With every word she spoke, Gabby risked breaking down. Her walls were already crushed. She felt such void inside that she doubted she had strength even to cry.
„You must wonder why do I feel so bad about it since I`ve probably made a favour to humanity.“ She spoke again, not looking at her interlocutor, but well aware of his eyes on her.
„Don`t dehumanize bad people, because it`s their humanity that makes what they`ve done so terrifying. My grandfather used to tell me that.“
Gabby felt like a disappointment.
„I promised him I would stick to that.“ She huffed and bowed her head in an attempt to hide a tear that slid down her cheek.
„Despite he was a monster, that man might`ve had a family! And I, out of all people, played God, taking the freedom to decide who should live and who should die!“ Each word she spoke came out louder and filled with self-loath.
They sat there few more moments in silence before the man got up. „Come with me.“ He walked not caring to turn, to check if she was following; he knew she was.
They stepped down to the street. The man led and Gabby tried so hard to keep up with his fast steps. They passed beside the playground where kids played basketball, which reminded Gabby of her childhood, run-down quart with homeless people, which caused sting in Gabby`s heart.
They made their stop in an average suburban neighbourhood, in front of a house that had black curtains on the windows. The man pointed his head towards it. „This is his house.“
Gabby swallowed hard as a woman dressed in a black dress got out through the porch door and thrown a plastic bag into the trash can.
„Go ahead.“ The man nudged her.
„Knock on the door, tell her who you are.“ Gabby stared at him in awe.
„Trust me.“ He said stroking her arm.
„Why should I trust a stranger?“ She asked, unaware of his touch.
„Well, you followed me here.“ He stated as corners of his lips slightly curled up. Hesitation found its way on Gabby`s face.
„I`ll be here when you`re done.“ He assured her. She nodded and walked to the front door.
When she reached them, Gabby turned once more to look at the mysterious man whom she found a source of support at the time. As if he read her mind, he gave her a nod. She turned, took a deep breath and knocked two times. At first, nothing happened, but after few seconds the same woman Gabby saw earlier opened the door.
„May I help you?“ She had shoulder-length wavy hair in same raven-black colour as her knee-length dress, which made an exhilarating contrast to her fair skin and pale green eyes.
Gabby looked like a kid who accidentally wretched best friends favourite toy.
„Ma`am, I-it`s my fault your husband is-deceased.“ She managed to proceed.
„I-I`ve left him-in the fire, I-“ she struggled as tears clustered in her eyes.
„I`ve left him to die.“ She cried.
„ I-I`ll understand if you call the police-„ Gabby hadn`t the chance to finish as the woman hugged her.
„Thank you.“ The woman whispered. Gabby was shocked-completely and utterly shocked. It was when they parted that Gabby noticed scars caused by fire on woman`s neck and hands.
That was when it hit her; the man whose death she hadn`t stopped, committing, what she thought, hideous, unforgivable crime she deserved to die for, not only had killed one family two weeks ago but had tried to do it to his own, in the same terrifying way.
The woman gave Gabby`s hands a light squeeze, snapping her out of her thoughts. She smiled weakly at her. Gabby found herself smiling back, for the first time that, for her, transformative day.
She exchanged few more words with the lady before she walked away.
Smile danced lightly on Gabby`s lips; relief and hope radiated from her as she restored her faith after she had regained redemption.
„How did you know?“ Gabby asked the man referring to the previous event, wide smile not leaving her face.
“Well,“ he started as they began to walk, „everything has the dark and the bright side, after all; the Sun has sat here, but it rose on the other side of the Earth.“ He said and poked the tip of her nose.
Gabby was stunned. „I-I don`t know how to thank you.“
„You don`t,“ he replied.
„It`s kind of my job. And it`s done for now.“
„How do you mean it`s your jo-„
She turned around herself, but the man was nowhere to be seen.
She found it strange, but after all, everything about this man has been strange, almost mythical. Unaware of it, Gabby reached for the cross on her necklace.
„Perhaps…” she whispered for herself.
C`mon Gabby, get yourself together! She mentally yelled at herself as she turned and sped away down the lonely street.
Little did she know she was not alone, for her guardian angel watched over her like he always had.