Leap

Gloom closed in around him. He stood high above the Seine, watching the water rush below. One foot rocked on the very edge.

Javert closed his eyes. He could remember his mother's voice.

Suicide is a sin, my son.

Taking him by the arm, she led him away from the sight of the young man swinging in the rafters. Swinging not for some crime, but for his own shame and desperation.

Small feet pattered after her. Why is it?

God gives and takes life. It is not ours to take it out of His hands.

He looked back, looked at that sallow face devoid of life as the boy was cut down and thought, Coward.

Blackness swam beneath him.

This man he'd pursued for so long, who had tormented his every thought, this man who offered him mercy instead of judgment, who with the flick of a knife could have been freed forevermore, this man known only to Javert, could have ended their decades-long rivalry there in that bloodstained alley behind the barricades.

He should have done it. He should have been the criminal Javert knew he was. Instead, damn him, Valjean had let Javert go.

Born in a prison, to scum like Valjean… how hard Javert had worked to earn the respect of society. How hard it had been to wear a niche in the carpet beside his bed each night in prayer. How hard it had been to deny all his innermost desires, to never give in, to turn away from temptation. The law he had kept, and the law had kept him, and now he had been undone… by a criminal.

Be a better man than your father, my son.

His foot inched over the edge.

Javert had tried to live his life never breaking a single rule… until now.

"I will see you in hell, Valjean," he said.

And stepped out – into nothingness, into darkness, into oblivion, into silence.