The first shot

sunlit balcony

There was a beautiful skyscraper in the middle of a small city; it looked like a crystal dagger threatening the sky. The city’s tallest building, it had 169 storeys and a long balcony that crowned its peak. Despite the grandiose view the balcony offered, few people ever stepped on it for it had been made for technical purposes, not for pleasure. Inside this thorny “crown” was a glass pyramid, the top floor of the skyscraper, and a small indoor garden - Skildefloor, the garden in the sky…

One day, the skyscraper’s administrator had a visitor, a handsome young man who said his name was Arvil. He was clad in a top-class white suit with a pearly white tie; his classy pants and boots were also as white as snow. He had a fresh haircut and smelled of expensive perfume. The only little detail that seemed wrong on him were his old glasses with thick lenses; he must’ve had severe myopia.

Arvil carried a new camera with him; even a bag it was packed into looked awfully expensive.

The white visitor had a soft, soothing voice and an honest, friendly manner of speaking; every word he spoke went straight to the listener’s heart, stirring the embers of empathy and compassion there.

Arvil politely declined the cup of coffee offered by the administrator and asked her for permission to make several shots from the top of the famous skyscraper. He even told a lovely story about how he loved heights and skies as a kid, how he dreamed to become a pilot, and how his poor eyesight made that dream impossible.

The administrator, absolutely charmed by the stranger, gave him full access to the building and even accompanied him to the glass pyramid at the roof. Once there, the guest politely asked for several minutes of privacy; his wish was granted.

Arvil approached the glass wall of the pyramid and stood there, thinking, for a while…

No, he didn’t come here to take photos; he came here to jump. The suicide was an old decision of his and all the emotions about it had burned out months ago. Free, quet, and tranquil, Arvil took his time to think of a proper way to go and to prepare himself.

Jumping from an ordinary building seemed risky; he could get “lucky”, survive the fall and spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair, paralyzed, unable to decide his own fate. That wouldn’t do. He needed to be sure, he couldn’t allow luck a single chance. That’s why he came here. When the height of the building is 13 raised to the power of 2, there can be no “lucky” survival. That was the sure way to go. He knew how to open the door leading to the balcony...

Arvil leaned against the glass and looked down, at the city.

The view was breathtaking…

He bought a new camera that day, the most expensive he could find, a technological marvel… Why not give it a try?

Arvil took the camera out of the bag and turned it on. There was a lovely rainbow above the city park that day, so it became the target. He took the first shot. Curious about the result, Arvil looked at the camera’s screen and froze, speechless…

There was an ancient forest there, a castle with jagged towers with green flags above the gates, an outlandish city with a seaport full of wonderful ships. The sky was a deep blue, streaked with feathery clouds where - that Arvil noticed when he zoomed in - the dragons played!

He understood everything - and nothing at the same time. He was running home, running as fast as if a pack of werewolves were on his trail. Just a minute ago, Arvil was ready to dive into the darkness where no life stirs; now, he yearned to live…

Later, as a very old man, he will keep telling his students: “When you have already decided something, even if you’re dead sure, make a pause, take the first shot. Sometimes it’s all you need.”

(July 17, 2003)

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English is not my native language.
If you see an error or a typo, please, tell me. I will fix it.