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Disclaimer: Pretender characters are property of MTM, TNT, NBC, WB, Steve, Craig and all the others.


Please, talk to me, he begs. I can help you. I want to help you, he says. Help? she thinks. There’s no help. There’s nothing he could say or do that would possibly help. She’s told him that before; he never listens. He keeps insisting on being there, constantly, hanging over her, waiting under her for her to fall so he can be the one to catch her. She can catch herself. Falling isn’t an issue. Rising back up isn’t an issue. Just the fact that he’s there is what bothers her most. Go away, she thinks. He’ll never go away. They both know this. They both hate it. They’re both grateful for it. But neither of them understand it and they can’t explain it. They’ve tried: It’s like being locked inside time, unable to move or speak or act and the person out of time reaches for you, but as much as you want to reach for them, to let them catch you, you can’t move. Because you’re frozen. Like your limbs are made from iron rods, incapable of flexibility and your feet are buried underground in layers and layers of concrete. You watch your life from a distance and there’s nothing you can do to change it. Your mouth can move but someone –something– else is doing the speaking. Stop speaking for me, she thinks. But the voices will never stop. Time will never cease. Concrete will never break. And for as many times as he asks, she will never, ever answer. For as many times as he pleads, she will never, ever cave. For as many times as he hopes, she will never, ever dream. Not because she doesn’t want to, because she can’t. Because survival is one thing, living is another. And at the end of every drop, there he is, waiting, arms open, to catch her, and because of it, she will never, ever fall.

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