Deep down in secret, I was always a selfish person. I was hailed as a hero that night on the rooftop I stopped a girl from jumping to her death. Only she and I know I was only there to jump myself.
Drunk off my ass, I'd stumbled against the heavy metal bar at the top of the stairs. Surprisingly, it'd opened. They say a bucket of cold water to the face helps you sober up, but the blast of wind and rain that almost knocked me down ten flights of stairs only served to confuse me further. I must've been quite the sight, clutching the cheap wooden railing in a fetal position for half a minute before crawling outside on my hands and knees.
It was terrifyingly beautiful that night. Raindrops swirled all around, blurring my vision of the city lights that dotted the landscape like a sea of stars. The wind had drowned out both the noise and the smell of the city. It chilled me to the bone, goosebumps forming on my tomato-red skin as I made my way to the edge of the roof. There was a figure waiting there.
"Are you here to stop me?" She asked. She sounded small. Probably the victim of some bullying. She was a mousy young woman with short hair and thick glasses. The rain dyed her cashmere sweater a dark red and plastered it to her frail body. By all means, she should've crumpled against the elements, but she stood strong, as if she didn't even feel the wind.
"No. Just here for the view." I lied. I don't know what it was at the time. Did sharing a death with a random stranger really bring me such unease? I racked my pounding head for a moment of clarity.
"You're a bad liar. Do you what you have to say before you jump?" She asked, whipping out a smartphone. Samsung Galaxy S7. Well, at least she wasn't bullied for her choice of phone.
"What? Geronimo? Death from above? I believe I can fly?" I asked, drawing a small smile from her despite the depressing circumstances.
"Your last words. If you jump without saying them, you'll live, but probably be paralyzed for life. Here, just scan your finger," She loaded up an app and I slapped my entire hand onto her phone, almost knocking it out of her hands.
"Sorry, a little ineb- a lil inebri- I'm drunk." I explained, steading myself on her shoulder. A little loading screen popped up, and three words flashed on the screen. I laughed.
"That's stupid. So you mean if I never say that, I'll live forever?" I snorted. She nodded.
"Unique to each person." She sneezed. It seemed she wasn't immune to the elements after all.
"Hey, wanna get down from here? I have, like, three whole bags of spicy ramen in my apartment that I should probably finish before dying." My stomach rumbled.
"Yeah. Ramen sounds nice about now." She said. And that was how I met my wife.
Ten years later, our country fell to segregation. Groups that believed the Last Words app was wrong had turned to military activism, and were going around killing those they suspected of using it. It was a real witch hunt, with many innocents falling victim to the slaughter.
I was cooking breakfast when they broke into our house. The oily smell of bacon and eggs permeated the atmosphere, and all was quiet save for the sizzling of the pan. Suddenly, BANG! Our front door imploded on the first strike as a group of masked figures broke in and seized my wife, who'd been watching the news on the couch. She didn't struggle.
I put the pan down and walked out to them, hands raised. Their leader- or at least the tallest psycho among them- held a gun to her head. "We have it on good authority that the Last Words app was used in this household."
I nodded. Deep down in secret, I was always a selfish person. "That's right. But she just borrowed my phone. She doesn't know what it is. It's me you want." I swallowed, then said my Last Words. "Take me instead."