A Chance Encounter

I can't do this anymore.

Every day I face is filled with nothing but fear and self-loathing.

There is only one escape for me. One way to make them realize how much I hate this life.

If I do this, they won't laugh at me any more.

I tell them I'm miserable, that he scares me, that I want to break away. But they can only see the mansion, the fancy cars, the endless trips to glamorous hot spots.

They don't see the bruises, neither the ones on the outside nor the ones on the inside. They don't know what happens when I ask for a little money to buy something for myself.

I have to account for every penny I hold in my hand. He has me under his thumb. I'm weak and clueless about the world. I'm sheltered under a wing that is feathered with cruel barbs and hard fists. And the only way to fly from under it is to fall first.

I'm just not strong enough alone.

Now there is nothing to live for.

With her mind made up, a cold figure wearing nothing but a long white terry robe stepped up onto the eight inch wide ledge running around the rooftop of the fancy apartment building.

For just a moment she stared at the skyline, almost in awe of the sight from this height, with the view unblocked for the most part by taller buildings. There wasn't any smog that night so the sky was clear and she could see the moon hanging low in the sky, could even see the brightest stars twinkling faintly against their backdrop of black velvet.

She didn't hear the door to the roof open and close again. She didn't see the man lean back against the door and breathe hard, like he'd just run a marathon. She didn't notice when he realized he wasn't alone on the roof.

In fact, she didn't notice him until he grabbed her around the waist and pulled her down. She kicked and screamed until she realized it wasn't him. He hadn't found her. She almost cried with relief. And then she got angry.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?" she hissed as she pulled away from the unfamiliar man, literally throwing herself back towards the edge of the roof. This time he caught her by the arm.

"Do you know how far it is to the ground, miss? How many stories up we are?" he asked when she turned back to face him.

"I know exactly how many stories up we are. Seventy five stories to the ground. Seventy seven if you count the two levels below the street," she said darkly.

The man released her arm.

"You're not drunk," he stated slowly.

Alice turned around to face him. She finally got a good look at him and it almost took her breath away. He was without a doubt the most handsome man she'd ever laid eyes on before in her entire life.

"I'm not high." Alice replied. "If that's what you're thinking. Not on drugs anyway. That's one escape I've never even considered. Not that I could afford them anyway," she muttered, turning back to the skyline, her arms wrapped around herself.

She would have to wait until he was gone. She didn't want an audience.

The man looked her over in obvious concern. As he took in her words, he realized them to be true. She didn't appear to be drunk and she definitely didn't appear to be high either.

"Look, miss, it's two in the morning and you're standing on the roof of an apartment building in your pajamas, doing a balancing act on that incredibly narrow ledge. I just naturally assumed you were under the influence of something. Either that or you were planning on jumping," he said, the laugh behind his words saying that he didn't even consider that as an option.

Alice didn't reply though. She just stood silent.

When she hunched her shoulders and hugged herself even tighter, he sobered. "You were going to jump?" he asked, his voice a disbelieving whisper.

"Correction, am going to jump." She replied, forcing her tone to sound firm and hard. She meant that, she did. So then why was she all of the sudden having doubts?

He studied her, his heart breaking a little at just how desperate she seemed to be. Maybe someone else might leave her to do what she would but that someone wasn't going to be him. He could see it in her eyes, he could see that she didn't really want this.

"What's your name?" He gently asked.

"What?" Her tone was filled with confusion. Why would this man possibly want her name and then it dawned on her. She spun around sharply and her features were wild with panic. "You're not taking me back!"

The man's eyes went wide at how upset he seemed to have made her. "Back, where?" He softly asked.

"I won't go back!" She continued on, panic completely taking over her mind. "Even if you do manage to take me back there, I'll just find another way out! If it's not this roof, than it'll be some cliff or…a rope or…I'll get creative!"

He looked at her in shock. "Where are you so scared that I'm going to send you that is worse than jumping off of that roof?"

Alice tried blinking back tears that were already beginning to fall. "It doesn't matter. Look, you seem like a really nice man…"

"My name's Cyrus." He gently gave. Maybe if he offered her his name first, she'd eventually share hers. "You're obviously running from something," He looked her over and added. "Or someone. I want to help you."

"Cyrus, you can't help me." Alice firmly replied. "No one can help me. And you don't wanna hear my sob story, trust me. Just go back to your life and let me escape from mine."

"Nothing in your life can be so bad that it can't be resolved, healed or comforted." Cyrus gently touched her arm. "I can't let you do this." He said firmly.

Alice shivered. No one had touched her this gently in years. "There's no where else for me to go. I have no friends. Only him." She replied bitterly.

"Family?" He asked softly.

"Only him." She repeated, a trace of annoyance in her tone. "My husband."

"Oh." He said softly. "Why are you wanting to do this when you have someone that loves you?"

Alice snorted. "He doesn't love me! He just likes to dress me up and show me off to his friends at parties and charities to make himself look good. I don't think he's ever even seen me."

"Well, tell me who I can take you to or have you call that does see you. Someone that you will believe when you're told it will all be better with time." Cyrus gently asked.

Alice glared at him. "Haven't you been bloody listening to me?! There is no one, Cyrus! Ok? No family, no friends! He doesn't even let me out of his sight long enough to make any." She sadness in his eyes and sighed. "It's too late for me, ok?"

Cyrus shook his head firmly. "No, it's not. It's never too late for anybody. This doesn't have to be your fate. Just come with me and…"

"No!" Alice yelled, panic started to overtake her once more. "I mean what I said, I won't go back there!"

"Listen, I'm not going to-" Cyrus tried to reach out to calm her and he was shoved by her.

"No!" Alice cried, getting desperate. "Leave me alone!"

"It's always something with women.." Cyrus muttered before quickly reached out and tossing her over his shoulder.

"What are you doing?!" She shrieked. "Let me go!"

"Not a chance." Cyrus replied firmly. "I'm going to make you see the value of your life whether you appreciate it or not!"

"No! Damn it, Cyrus put me down!" Alice yelled as she kicked against him and was carried inside the building.