I watch Lacy for an instant, balanced upon the edge of the roof, bracing herself against the railing. The breeze stirring her blond hair as her empty gaze takes in the day’s first light.
I throw off my heels and my feet scream as they smack upon the pavement, fighting for traction and speed. The letter she left me falls from my hand. My heart pounds against my ribs, tenderizing them. I push to run faster.
When I reach the seventh floor I open the door onto the roof. “Lacy!” I gulp oxygen, my eyes skipping across the horizon. “Lacy!” I hesitate, then force myself to the edge. My stomach twists as I look 70 feet to the ground. I fall back, seeing only concrete. The sun casts my shadow before me, and I realize my mistake. I scramble to my feet.
On the other side of the roof I find myself alone. I scream her name until my throat aches. There is no response. Questions bombard my mind. How can this be real?
As I shuffle toward the edge, I fall to my knees and leave a trail of blood as the pebbled surface cuts my palms. The sting of it churns my stomach and I realize this isn’t a nightmare.
Taking a deep breath I clench my teeth and peer over the railing. My lungs freeze, my eyes widening as I try to comprehend what I’m seeing. Seven feet below me, Lacy dangles by a foot that’s become wedged into the ironwork of an empty window box. “Lacy!”
She mumbles incoherently.
I look as far left as I can, count the windows, and pray I’ll be able to locate the right apartment.
Inside I find the third door from the far end. “Please let this be the right one.” I try the handle and feel the old workings wanting to turn. I try it again, using my weight. On my third try it gives way. Out the window, I can see the bottom of Lacy’s shoe. I sprint across the empty room and throw open the window. “Lacy, can you hear me? I need you to help me get you up.”
The window box creaks and I see it beginning to pull away from the wall. “Please, I need your help!” My eyes begin to water.
“I can’t lift you up alone!”
An idea sparks in my mind and I go to the apartment below the one she’s dangling from, again forcing my way in. From the window, I can see the ends of her hair and her hands. I race through the apartment looking for anything I can use to get hold of her. Inside a closet I find an old pair of mens jeans laying on the floor. Grabbing them, I run back to the window.
Taking off my belt I lower the top half of the window and loop it like a pair of handcuffs around her wrists before lacing it through the heavy belt loops of the pants and buckling the belt. “Please let this work.”
As I take the end of each leg and wrap them around my wrists, Lacy begins to stir. “Lacy! Can you hear me?”
I see blood trickling down her hand. “Lacy, don’t move. I need you to stay calm, okay?”
“Where am I?”
“Sweetie, I need you to try to reach down as far as you can.”
“Why am I upside down?”
“Lacy! Focus, I need you to reach.” I gently pull on the jeans.
“What am I reaching for?” Her tone sounds almost drunk.
Inside the window there’s a curtain rod. I know it won’t hold her full weight, but I pray between the window box, the rod, and myself, I can manage to get Lacy inside. “Reach as far down as you can, okay? I’ll guide your hands.”
As she stretches I back up, trying to pull her toward the bar.
“Hannah, what’s going on? How did I get here?”
“That’s not important, keep reaching,” I pull her hands in a little further, “curl your wrists up and feel for a bar.”
As she sobs, she does as I ask.
The window box creaks and gives slightly.
“It’s okay, Lacy, I’ve got you. Your hands are right by the bar, you’ve almost got it.”
After a second, she has a white knuckled grip on it.
“Okay, Lacy, you’re doing well.”
“Help me, Hannah!”
“I’m right here, I’m not going anywhere. Do you think you can get your other foot to where you can brace it against top of this window?”
“I—I can try.”
I feel her weight shifting as her blood begins to run faster down the belt. The window box creaks, and she drops as one side gives way. Her shriek hits me like a shockwave. I can see her now from her chest up.
She braces her hands against the tops of the window panes and her foot finds its way into place.
“You’re doing great, Lacy. Okay, this part is going to be scary—”
“This whole thing is scary!”
I laugh. “True, but we need to get you inside. When I say, I need you to do whatever it takes to pull that window box the rest of the way out. I’m going to try to pull you in.”
“We have to get you inside. You have to try, Lacy.”
She sniffs and nods.
“On my count,” I see her muscles tense, “One, two.” As three forms on my lips, the window box releases and she begins to fall. Closing my eyes I pull with all my weight. The air is forced from my lungs as she lands on top of me.
When the first responders come, I never let go of Lacy’s hand as they load her into the ambulance.
She pulls the oxygen mask from her bloodied face. “Why didn’t you just let me go?”
“Lacy, we’re not blood, but we’re family.”
Thank you so much for reading! This story was inspired by When Readers Write’s, Blah Buster topic of Family. Have a question you’d like to ask Hannah? Is there something you’re dying to know about Lacy? Leave the question in a comment and you might get it asked and answered in my next character interview! To read more Blah Busters click here.