The picture that inspired this story is here.
The wind rustled the ends of her hair, lifting it in a way that if the wind was stronger, she’d fly away, up over the roof tops and city people staring at her. She could fly away from anything that pained her and land in a place of happiness. Renew herself. Crack out of the shell of the girl that once was and emerge as a beautiful butterfly.
Grace. She’d rename herself Grace. The way it sounded coming from her mouth, so elegant, made her smile. She’d be elegant. She’d be kind and loved by all.
Grace tipped her head back, staring up at the blue, blue sky. Maybe if she stared at it she wouldn’t see the ground racing to meet her. Wouldn’t hear the crunch of her bones; the squish of blood pouring from her. The snap of her life gone as she hit pavement.
She sat down, dangling her legs over the edge. It felt freeing—daring—to be half over the ledge. One slip and whoosh. Goodbye.
“What are you doing out here?” A boy leaned out of the window, staring at her in utter amazement and frightfulness. His hair was blond and messy, like he rolled out of bed. His eyes blue, like the sky, and sleepiness was mixed with the other emotions.
He slid out of the window and sat next to her. “Why?” He smelled like cinnamon. She wanted to bury her face in his jacket. But that wouldn’t be very graceful, and she intended on acting like her new name.
She tilted her head at him. Parted her cracked, pink lips. They still looked soft. “Because life is hell.”
“Jumping will be hell, too.”
She didn’t skip a beat. “Not unless you let yourself go while falling. You won’t feel a thing.”
He stared at her for a long time; from her dyed black hair and red roots to the combat boots she wore under the plaid skirt. He guessed she was an artist struggling to make it in the big, bad world. He held up his hands, dry, but covered in paint. He smiled.
“It isn’t that bad, you know.” He leaned forward, tucking a piece of hair behind her ear. He whispered, “I hope you haven’t let yourself go,” and pressed his lips to her cheek. She gasped, turning her head toward his. Their breath mingled, then their lips and tongues. Wave after wave of emotion crashed inside her and he pressed her down on the ledge, one leg of hers still dangling; they stayed like that for a few minutes, hands tangled in hair while their mouths danced. He pulled her into the studio apartment with him.
“Toby,” he said, his lips brushing hers as he talked. She felt solid with floor under her feet. Walls under her touch as he pushed her into the corner. Ceiling overhead. Safe. The shell of the girl was broken; out came a new girl. A new butterfly.