The Moment of Truth
He was 16 when he almost died. You could speculate as to what you would do if such and such is happening or has happened, but you would never know for sure until the Moment of Truth. And if the act is unpremeditated, so much closer to the heart. This was his moment of truth, the final confirmation of my choosing him as my avatar.
It is final exam time, and Anthony is cramming at his desk by the window. In between equations, his attention becomes distracted by something white across the street. It is a narrow street, lined wall-to-wall with wood-frame apartment buildings on both sides. His family’s apartment is on the 4th floor. What distracted him is a beautiful girl of about 18, dressed in a flowing white gown, who has climbed over the railing lining the roof of the apartment building directly across the street, and is now standing on the ledge. She is no more than 30 feet away, with the night breeze teasing her hair and making of her fluttering white dress a flag of surrender.
She has not seen him yet. Her attention is focused for the moment at the pavement directly below, at that exact spot where she estimates her body would land and be flattened, upon which the street light casts an eerie glow. Momentarily, Anthony’s Roman Catholic indoctrination makes a gaping hole of this spot, through which she would plunge, straight down to hell. Momentarily, he experiences a revulsion for the concept of Heaven and Hell. How could a loving God torture this delicate soul for an eternity?! He tears himself from that vision, looks back up, and is shocked to find himself locking eyes with her.
For what seems an eternity, they are frozen. He begins to feel that he has intruded into and violated the vestiges of her privacy. But neither can he withdraw from the situation, even though, at the next instance, she requests him to.
“I can’t,” he says.
“Please, close your blind, go away,” she pleads again.
“I can’t,” he asserts again.
“Please give me my dignity. I don’t want anyone watching me die.”
He surprises all three of us by getting up from his desk and climbing out his own open window, holding on to the sill. He looks down, and his grip tightens.
“What are you doing?!” she cries, looking stunned.
“If you jump, I will jump with you.”
“Get back inside, kid! I don’t want to die with you on my conscience!”
“That’s the point,” says Seeu Sung, a little too quickly, and I can feel him regretting it instantly. He hastens to add, “Look, to die alone must be an infinitely lonely experience. I can at least alleviate a little of your loneliness. If it is the last gift of love you will receive from this cold hard world, it’d be worth it for me.”
“Don’t be stupid!”
“You are 10 feet higher than me. I have enough time to join you. I’ll try to hold your hand.”
Her eyes seems to have undergone a subtle change. They seem as if looking right through him at something behind him, something that is making a slight rustling sound not five feet away. A split second later, two things happen, simultaneously.
Seeu-Sung becomes tightly held by the vice-like arms of his father from behind.
And the nameless girl takes the plunge, ending with a popping sound like that of a husked coconut hitting a rock.
In his struggle to get loose while being hauled bodily back into the room, he inadvertently breaks his father’s nose with his elbow.
If he did take the plunge himself, would I have intervened? Not physically.
Anthony Marr, Founder and President
Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)
Global Anti-Hunting Coalition (GAHC)