Threshold of Death

Threshold of Death

A Story by Peter Regal Whittam

A man's leap to his death transforms into his last journey.

The rain pattered on the cobbled pavement, the drops showering down from the grey blanket of clouds overhead in the size of bullets, but George Monroe was oblivious to it all. Not even the occasional flash of lightning and clap of thunder was able to grab his attention as he dragged his feet across the rough stone, his vacant eyes unseeing of the path ahead of him. Only when is destination materialized before him, barely visible through the torrential downpour, did he snap out of his trance. He was there - Glasgow Bridge.

Drowning more in self-pity than the water that soaked him to his skin, Monroe clambered onto the parapet of the bridge. He stood there for what could be hours or even mere seconds. There was no way to be sure of which it was - time had lost all meaning. The rain felt cleansing as he closed his eyes and turned his face to the murky, overcast sky, the agony in his soul momentarily quelled only to be replaced by a far more violent fire scorching his insides, leaving him a smouldering ruin. His life was a farce, much like he was. Only a few days ago, he was fired from his job as a sales manager, which was not before the stock market had plummeted to a decade-low after he had invested his entire life’s savings in it. But the final blow was when he returned home to find out that his wife of three years had left him, taking their two-year-old daughter with her. Ever since then, Monroe roamed the streets of the city, drunk and devastated, hopping from pub to pub, before he made a decision to end it all. With a suicide letter mailer to his parents, there he was, standing, at the edge of his life. Whispering a silent prayer to the deity of heaven and earth, Monroe leapt off the bridge into the yawning chasm, prepared to put a stop to his unbearable torment. Little did he know that the next moments would be far more agonizing.

The first few seconds of free fall flooded Monroe with a sense of unparalleled tranquility. It would all be over soon. No more did he have to deal with life and all the curses it brought. It was…the end of it all. As suddenly as the lightning that flushed all around, and uncontrollable fear twisted his insides, eating him away like acid. Surely that was not it! He could not die! A strangled scream of panic escaped him as a primal instinct, one which every living creature bore since the very moment of their existence, made itself known to him: the urge to preserve life and the inevitable fear of death.

The wind whipping past Monroe picked up its speed, parting each lock of his curly hair like a finger. The fear in George had not dimmed when he was visited by another thought. How would his parents respond to the suicide note? His mother, the weak-hearted one, was sure to crumble down in manic tears while his father would try to console her, hiding the fact that his own self was destroyed at losing their only son. Certainly, the very two individuals who loved him, nurtured him and molded him into the person he became was not deserving of such anguish. And what about his daughter? She was going to grow up having to know that her father was spineless fool who chose to take the easy way out rather than face the difficulties head-on. In a single stroke of reckless cowardice, he had robbed two people of a child, seized one innocent toddler of her father and deprived them all of far more happiness than they were worth. Fatigued by fear and adrenaline, Monroe could only ramble out incoherent apologies, his broken, delirious mind and fragmented consciousness blinded of the fact that his words were by then as worthless as the life he had wasted.

Perhaps it was true that before death, one’s entire life flashes before their eyes, splinters of memories rushing past the fading perception of reality. As the waters underneath Monroe flew in so very close to him, time slowed itself to a crawl, lengthening every living moment it could salvage. In a stark moment of enlightened clarity, all of Monroe’s fear and agony vanished, only to be replaced by something entirely different. Long-lost images came alive in his mind like a faded movie reel, each revived by a different emotion: ecstasy at having graduated from college, gratitude at having his first employment, love at his wife walking down the aisle on the day of their marriage…bliss at holding is beloved daughter in his arms for the first time. Blended into a bittersweet nostalgia, each memory was more precious than the next, slivers of a life he had decided to throw away. By the time his face broke the surface of the freezing waters, accompanied by a white-hot fork of lightning cleaving across the inky sky, almost theatrically at that very moment, the only emotion coursing through his shattered soul was regret.

The splash of George Monroe’s lanky five-feet-nine frame plunging into the subzero rapids of Glasgow River, arms flailing wildly at a futile attempt at self-rescue, was masked by the bullet-sized raindrops pelting the cobbled streets overhead. The stars continued to shed theirs tears as the momentary breach in the raging currents remained the only sign of yet another life faded into oblivion, snatched away by death and all its friends.

© 2013 Peter Regal Whittam

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Added on December 2, 2013
Last Updated on December 2, 2013
Tags: Death, suicide, regret, heartbreak


Peter Regal Whittam
Peter Regal Whittam

Chittagong, Bangladesh

Hello, I'm Peter, a hobbyist writer. I have always had an attraction towards what I like to call "text-based art", but my passion for writing did not bloom until recently, and it has been growing ever.. more..