Hang Time

NoteThis is a first draft. I will continue to update the story on the site as I edit it!

Of fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck, Elia Moropoulos repeated as a strong wind swept at her body. Her forearms burned as they stayed latched to the underside of her bedroom’s window sill. Outside, the sun was starting to set, but it was still light enough for people to make out the body dangling from the fifteenth story of the old New York high-rise on East 85th, right next to Central Park.


Help!” she screamed, pushing the limits of her voice.


Elia could hear the shrieks of pedestrians on the street but she couldn’t look down. Her whole body was locked against the side of her building as her arms were the only thing keeping her from a fall to her death. It was chilly outside, but it was nothing that could phase the intense heat coursing through Elia’s veins that could only come from a life on the line.


“Hold on!” someone shouted. She barely made it out over the blasting wind and rush of cars below.


Elia wasn’t in the best of shape; she was in her mid-thirties and wore a cozy layer of fat she developed over the years from eating too much moussaka and souvlaki. If she hadn’t played rugby for all those years in school, however, she’d be dead by now. Guaranteed. 


She had tried a few times already to pull herself back through the window, but to no avail. The jutting bricks of the outside sill grabbed her red t-shirt and yellow cardigan as she tried to make progress, and she had no footholds to push off of to help her back in. But she couldn’t accept the fact that she lacked the strength to save herself. That would mean accepting her death. Elia summoned all the strength in her arms again for another effort to hoist herself in. Her legs scraped at the building’s outer brick wall, but she couldn’t move her torso up more than an inch with her efforts. 


Help! Help!” she screamed again, realizing that she would likely take her plunge before anyone would be able to come to her aid.


Now, Elia wrestled with the decision between trying again and exhausting her strength or holding still and preserving her life for an extra half-minute. Her whole body ached, and she winced as sweat beat down her forehead. She figured she may have another couple minutes at the most.


Below her, Elia could now hear the echoing wail of sirens. She allotted about a second for an internal snicker.


The fuck are they going to do?, she mused, I’ll be dead before they get out of the car.


Quickly, Elia decided that the activities of East 85th weren’t worth her thoughts. She’d rather spend her remaining time recalling the reason she climbed out her bedroom window in the first place. Maybe she would become enraged enough to pull herself back in.


She had just returned to her apartment after her usual Saturday trip to the mall. She bought a couple nice pairs of flats——expensive, but not flashy——and a sun hat to wear during the upcoming summer. Her fiance Vincent wasn’t home (usually the case; he worked Saturdays) and he forgot his phone at the apartment. She set her stuff down on the side table and curiously picked up the phone, when it went off with a notification.


The notification was from a strange app called Virus+, which was supposed to be a protection software. It was suggesting that a “phone scan” be completed immediately, so Elia initiated the scan as she brought the phone to the couch to settle in a watch some TV. Her younger sister, Anastasia, was supposed to come over later for dinner, so she wanted to have some personal time before she showed up. When Elia looked at the phone again, though, it wasn’t scanning jack shit. The screen brightly displayed a conversation history with the name Ana and a heart beside it. Her sister.


The topmost message read:

          Im visiting today so make sure Ur not back b4 I leave

By that point, Elia’s blood was already boiling. Her fists were clenched, her face was crimson with rage, and her breathing was shallow and quick. As she read the rest of the messages, the harrowing truth donned on her lighting-fast: her fiance was having an affair with her sister, and it had been going on for over a year.


Confused and outraged, Elia trashed her living room. She toppled her television and smashed her beautiful Dale Tiffany lamps. After her fit of destruction, she went for whatever alcohol she had left, which happened to be almost a full bottle of Mondavi merlot. It went down in mere minutes, as Elia was frantically trying to process the new information. Next, she picked up her own phone and was about to scream the heads off her bastard fiance and whore of a sister when she stopped.


Who cares?, she thought, What’s done is done. And after I’ve finished screaming at them they’re still going to fuck and I’m still not going to matter to them.


Elia realized that her only family members in America; the only people that were supposed to truly care about her were going behind her back with each other to do unspeakable, immoral things. She hated her job as a secretary. Without her husband and her sister she had nothing, so what was the point?


And out onto the sill of her bedroom window she climbed. It extended far enough outside the building that she could stand upright outside the window, with only her toes popping over the edge. The wind and cold air bombarded her as she looked down at the street fifty yards below searching for meaning; searching for an answer. Within seconds she found it. It was nothing profound, though. It merely came in the form of an inner voice incessantly screaming at her to get down and climb back inside to safety. 


The imposing danger of the situation flooded back to Elia as she stared down at the street below; the pedestrians mere dots in her strained vision. Her legs first transformed into viscous jelly, then went numb. Her eyes widened and she started hyperventilating.


Get inside! Get inside! Get inside!


A simple idea in theory, but the execution was much more difficult.


Elia slowly crouched down on the outside of the sill. Her back scraped against the wall of the building as she pushed her butt back into her bedroom. Her next move was to pivot her feet to turn around and duck her head under the sill; then she could climb back into the room to safety. The maneuver, however, didn’t go so well. 


As Elia pivoted on her feet, her right foot slipped right off the sill. She lost her balance and instinct took over: she dropped her left leg off the outside of the sill to avoid tumbling off sideways and shot her hands through the window hole, grabbing on to the base of the sill on the bedroom’s side. As she fell, the outer edge of the sill caught her in the ribs, making her drop her body further until it dangled on the outside of the building, her arms the sole guardian against a fifteen story fall.


And Elia stayed like that for over a minute. Clutching for her life, trying futilely to pull herself up, and shouting for help so loud the heavens could hear her.


Elia unleashed a guttural roar of determination to continue holding herself up. Sweat was invading her eyes and her arms and hands cramped on top of abhorrently burning from the strain. Immediately after her roar, a clear voice of a man filled her ears.


“Hold on. Do not let go. We are coming to rescue you,” the voice said. The voice had a mechanical tang, and Elia realized it was someone on the ground speaking at her through a megaphone.


Elia imagined firefighters bursting into her bedroom and hoisting her to safety, or a crane coming in from behind her to bring her back down to the sacred ground. But she didn’t have much time. With the sheer exhaustion and pain she was feeling, it would be a miracle if she could squeeze out another minute. She crunched up her face and gnashed her teeth; her newfound superhuman endurance fueled solely by the desire not to die so she could be alive to take up a few things with her sister and husband.


From Elia’s periphery, her bedroom door flung open and someone rushed into the room, but the face she saw wasn’t a comforting one. It was her sister, Anastasia. 


Of course! Ana had come by to visit for dinner!


Ana looked to the window and saw only her sister’s arms and reddened, gritted face. She stood frozen in shock and horror, her eyes wide and her mouth open. The normally alluring, tan skin tone of the younger Moropoulos sister disappeared and was replaced with a pale white.


Blood started to seep from Elia’s lip because she unknowingly bit it open. That sight was enough to snap Ana out of shock and into action. She bounded across the room to the window sill, leaned out, and began uselessly grabbing the sides of Elia’s shirt and yanking upward.


“Pull yourself in!” Ana screamed, tears rapidly forming in her worried eyes.


“Can’t,” Elia managed to grumble in response.


“Take my hand!”


“Lean further out!”


As soon as Elia shouted that, time slowed. An idea began to form. Elia, grasping at the last semblance of life, was staring into the face of her younger sister. Her treacherous, manipulative, cunning younger sister. The younger sister that her fiance, George, thought was miles more beautiful than her. She was the whore he ran to for wanton debauchery. And right now, that whore leaned out Elia’s apartment window on 85th, her dark brown fishtail hair blowing in the intrepid wind. She looked so genuinely concerned to save the sister she had willingly gutted with a pocket knife and left to rot. Best of all, Ana had know idea that Elia knew.


So maybe Elia could take up those things with her sister right now.


“Pull yourself up, Elia!”


“Lean out more!” Elia shouted, trying to keep her strength. She could feel her arms weakening. She had to act fast.


“I’m trying!” Ana shouted. She was leaning halfway out the sill now, too, with her hands latched around her sister’s upper arms. She strained and shouted and sobbed as the pulled Elia with all her might, but it wasn’t enough.


“Elia, I love you! Please! Use all your strength!” Ana’s voice quavered as she yelled. On the streets below, the sirens continued and megaphone man was shouting up at the Moropoulos sisters, but neither of them payed any attention.


Agh!” Elia shouted.


Use your whole strength!


But that was the name of the game. Ana didn’t use her whole brain, or her whole morals, or her whole heart every time she fucked George. She didn’t use any bit of them, actually. All she used were her serpentine eyes and her whore’s tongue to maim her closest friend and sister without a care in the world.


So, Elia didn’t use her whole strength. The idea of being saved was abandoned. Now all that existed in Elia’s mind was the idea of delivering retribution with a deft and omniscient hand.


“Lean out more!” Elia shouted again. The words barely escaped her mouth. All the pressure in her head was making her feel faint. Her arms ached and burned so bad it felt like they had been lacerated and left to bleed.


“I’m trying!”


MORE!


And so Ana leaned out more. Behind the girls, the crane of a firetruck was rising up to meet them. In ten seconds, it would reach Elia and guarantee her safe descent. 


Ana didn’t notice the crane. Her eyes were locked onto Elia’s.


Elia didn’t notice the crane. Her eyes were locked onto Ana’s two-foot-long fishtail flapping around to the side of her head. She knew she only had one shot.


Elia removed her right hand from the sill and grabbed her sister’s loose t-shirt which hung merely an inch above. With that, she began to fall. Her remaining hand slipped off the sill, and inch by inch she sank downward, heading for the street below. With one hand on her sister’s shirt, she flung the other hand up and grabbed onto her sister’s hair.


Now, she used all her strength. Elia clasped both hands shut, one on Ana’s shirt and the other on Ana’s rope-like hair, and let her weight, with gravity’s help, carry her downward. Before Ana’s eyes finished widening, she was yanked out of the windowsill without a chance to save herself.


Like rag dolls, the two sisters plummeted to the street. They fell past the rescue crane that missed their target be mere feet. They fell through the screams of all the horrified bystanders who were about to witness the most tragic event in their lives. And as they fell, Ana wailed and flailed around and shut her eyes, but Elia was calm.


This time, Elia was the one who was sure of herself. And Ana was the one who was betrayed.


And, to Elia, that was positively lovely.

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