by Christopher L. Malone
“Notice me,” she cries, and we all look at her, over and over and over again.
The video plays on a twenty second loop. The window flies open; she presses her palms against the sill, thrusts her chest outward to grab a lung full of air, and screams her proclamation with eyes shut tight. When they open, she looks wildly at the camera, pitches forward, and her entire body seems to pour itself out of the house. Her fall is noiseless, save for the impact, and when she hits, a muffled voice says shit, and the camera rushes forward. The picture jostles heavily before arriving at the body, face down and moaning. The video cuts off, and the loop restarts, and she dies again.
Someone posted the video on Facebook and it got a few hits. Then someone retitled it “Sum dum bitch looking for attention” and the clip started generating more hits. By the time the star of the video faded away in a hospital room, never bothering to surface from her coma, it had more than 10,000 views, with over 2,000 shares.
Once she died, the news picked it up; a local story became a national story, and a young girl’s death transformed into a commentary on millennials:
Accident or Suicide? “Selfie-Culture”, A Young Girl’s Death, and America’s Obsession with Fame
Everyone read the headline. Everyone watched the video.
“It had to be staged,” Chuck said. “How else was the camera filming at that exact moment?”
“No one’s saying it wasn’t,” I replied, still looking at the screen and tapping its center occasionally. I was searching for the perfect moment to hit pause.
Alisha set her phone down, disgusted with herself.
“Poor girl,” she said. “I just cannot even imagine what her family must be going through.”
“What family?” I mumbled. Peering up from my phone, I saw Alisha’s fierce gaze directed toward me.
“You don’t think that little girl’s got some family that’s torn up over this?” she asked.
I studied her expression; her lips pressed tightly together, and one eyebrow arched upward, daring me to continue down this path. I was non-plussed.
“The video’s still up, isn’t it?” I asked.
“So what?” she replied.
“If it was me,” I said, “I’d tear down the whole internet before I let another person make fun of my baby girl, watching her fall out a window like that.”
“You got that right,” Chuck said, putting his own phone down next to his cup of coffee. “These folks is handing out interviews instead, trying to get on TV so they can talk about how much they love their daughter and how special she was, and how we need to come together as a nation and stop this suicide shit.”
Alisha turned on her husband. “I cannot even believe you right now.”
“What?” he asked. “They get paid to be on them shows, don’t they?”
“Why’s everything got to be a hustle with you?” she snapped, and I spoke up.
“I don’t know,” I told her, still tapping my phone, trying to hit the right moment in the video. “Can’t be on Dr. Phil and not get paid.”
“You two are disgusting,” Alisha said, folding her arms over her chest and turning her head away, as if to prove the point. Then, on a second thought, she turned her head back toward me and asked, “How many times are you going to watch that before you’ve seen enough?”
“Relax,” I told her. “I’m looking for something.”
“Looking for what?” Chuck asked.
My finger punched the screen, finally at the perfect moment, and I turned my phone toward them.
“That right there,” I said, showing them the screen. “That right there is why I’m telling you that little girl got no family to speak of.”
They saw it; her expression was absolutely clear, wide eyed, staring directly into the frame, like that was the moment where she was going to turn some silly video of her screaming “Notice me” into a suicide note. Paused at the perfect point, her eyes were piercing, but her face was slack with resignation, mouth agape, letting out all of the air in her chest, as if she were deflating. Her forearms strained against the window sill, like she was bearing more than just the weight of her body, and you could just make out the thin blue veins of her slender wrists. Touch play, and she’d lean forward, falling to her death. Her look said everything.
Chuck shook his head in sadness, and Alisha spoke, morose. “Come on,” she said, “Coffee break is up. Let’s get back to work.” My friends pocketed their phones inside their heavy coats and drained their coffees. I started to put mine away, then thought better of it, and left it on the table, next to the waiter’s tip.
We walked out, greeted by a bitter cold wind and grey, angry skies. Soon, snow would start falling. Alisha and Chuck started back to the office, but I walked to my car, instead. When I started to get in, they looked back, confused.
“Job’s this way,” Chuck said, but Alisha saw something in my expression and knew something was up.
“Where are you going?” she asked.
“Tell them I’m taking a sick day,” I told her, shrugging.
“For what?” Chuck asked.
“Watching that girl die,” I said, “didn’t feel right. I could at least attend the funeral.”
If there were objections, I didn’t hear them. All I could think about was what the girl had asked for, and how the right thing to do was to notice her, at least in person. I got in, started the car, and drove east, where the clouds got progressively darker. If I drove fast enough, I could make it to her hometown by nightfall.
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Christopher L. Malone
Christopher L. Malone is a writer and Maryland-native who enjoys playing music and hanging out with his wife and son in his spare time. His work has been previously featured in The Dark City Crime and Mystery Magazine, The Literary Hatchet, and online at Cicatrix Publishing. He is currently working on his first novel.