"It's time for me to go now."
As if answering the girl's solemnly spoken words, the summer wind blew across the empty roof in an almost excited fashion. It blew her nightgown against her legs as she turned to face it. The night was lit brightly by the shining buildings and streetlights, but all of them seemed dim to her.
"Why?" an angry voice cried out behind her, and even though she knew he was going to react this way, she couldn't help but flinch.
"You know why," she replied, her tone eerily calm. It was at that moment that she felt a hand grip her bare arm roughly. She began to wonder whether he knew how much he hurt her, if he knew that he was the reason she would be gone shortly. The way he'd grasped her arm was the perfect way to describe their relationship, she decided. No matter how much he tried to help her, she would still end up hurt. She just couldn't figure out whether he deserved to be blamed.
"No, I don't! I don't understand why you're doing this! You have a life here! You're being so stupid!" he yelled, and for a moment, his words stabbed her. Just a second later, however, she realized that it didn't even hurt. She was numb; he had made her numb. She hated that feeling because she loved to feel. She wondered what death felt like.
"I," she began, but she didn't know how to continue. Her mouth was open, her throat moving as if it was attempting to form words, yet had no sound. She was used to that, she supposed. She'd always had words to say, and was never fully able to say them aloud. To find out what they sounded like was something she had always desired.
"You, what?" he demanded.
After this, she'd have nothing.
"All my life," she started again, "I have been yours. I loved it years ago, when I was a child, but you became my cage. You never allowed me to do the one thing I always wanted to do."
"If you're talking about your little music obsession, I was helping you," he interrupted, his hands shaking her bare, cold shoulders for what was supposed to be seen as emphasis.
She was about to speak again, but he began before she was able to make a sound:
"You were always so adamant about singing. It wouldn't have gotten you anywhere, you know that? You aren't that good. But you were always getting distracted by it. I only wanted you to focus on your schoolwork. You're my daughter. I wanted what was best for you," his voice cracked, "I still do. Please come back with me. Okay?"
She threw herself out of his grip and walked to the other side of the tall roof. She was never a fan of heights, so the sheer amount of space between herself and the ground made her insides freeze. But she held her ground, and inched closer to the edge ever so slightly.
"It was what I loved! You wouldn't even allow me to try! Remember the school talent show?!" She remembered it perfectly. She'd watched her friends show off their various talents on the stage, and spent the whole time wishing her father had signed that permission slip to let her join. The tears that had stung at her eyes all those years ago could be felt coating them once again.
"So what? It was just a stupid talent show," her father responded.
"No. No, it was so much more than that. I can't spend my life caged by you, dad. I can't and I won't." The girl refused to turn around and face him. She refused to show him her tears again.
"Are you an idiot?! Come back inside the apartment, right now!"
"No. I'm saying what I want to say, and you are going to listen to me. You ruined me. You were trying to help me, I know that, but you ruined me. You are the reason I'm doing this. This is your fault. Yours. Do you understand me? I hate you. I loved music, it was the only thing I loved, and you took that away from me. You drove mom away, you drove my friends away, and then you took away music."
She wondered what would have happened if she could have listened to music when she was being bullied. Abused. Left alone. The music in her mind was never enough.
Her father did not speak.
"I'm leaving," she said, but she couldn't stop her father's strong arms wrapping around her roughly to drag her back with him.
Her mind went blank as she struggled with every ounce of her strength to break his grip, and her frazzled brain barely registered his head hitting the roof with a loud crack.
She stared, tears falling upon her cheeks and her knees hitting the hard roof.
She began to hum, then to sing, as she kissed her father's unmoving cheek.
"Step one, you say "We need to talk," he walks,
you say, "Sit down, it's just a talk."
He smiles politely back at you,
you stare politely right on through."
With one last glance at her father, she walked toward the edge of the roof for the last time, not caring whether the man behind her was alive or dead. Her lack of remorse made her sick to her stomach.
"Some sort of window to your right,
as he goes left and you stay right.
Between the lines of fear and blame,
you begin to wonder why you came."
Her voice, high and clearer than it ever was before, rang out like the song of a bird. She closed her eyes at the edge of the roof and felt the wind in her hair, the feeling of nervousness that she was always consumed in dissipating. Her foot was raised as if to take a step.
"Where did I go wrong? I lost a friend
somewhere along in the bitterness, and I
would have stayed up with you all night,"
She was gone.
She was saved.
She was finally free.
"Had I known how to save a life."