His clothes were wet from the rain; they slapped violently against his skin in the wind. His feet were cracked and bleeding from walking barefoot over the rocks, but he was unconcerned; he was almost at the peak.

Climbing over the third rock before the summit, he saw it was still there: Cupid shooting an arrow at a heart fluttering away on tiny wings. The initials A and J were inscribed on either wing. “Not even time can change this,” she had declared proudly, wiping the sweat off her brow, admiring her masterpiece on stone, a goofy smile on her face.

“Corny, definitely corny,” he had teased, sitting next to her in the narrow patch of grass, the sun beating down on them, typical of a July afternoon in Northern California. Now he ran his hand over the cold stone. Rainwater flowed in rivulets through the crude etching on the flat rock face.

He clambered over the highest rock and stood up, staggering back as the wind hit him. He shivered. Over the edge on the other side, the fog completely shrouded the surroundings below. It was almost reassuring, an endless fluffy bed of white. He looked up at the dark gray sky. Big drops of rain stung his eyes.

They said life flashed in front of your eyes in the final moments. He had thought over and over of what his life had been. All he saw was her brown hair flowing in the light breeze, her dark eyes gazing intently at the charcoal sketch he had drawn of her, the coffee cup held to her lips, her slender fingers curled around the sleeve; her breasts pressed against his body, her leg wrapped around his, her warm breath on his neck as she slept quietly in his arms.

Now she was gone for whatever reasons she had, and for months his soul had wandered in and out of the putrefying nothingness he had turned into. Nothing mattered anymore, he had decided, before setting off for the mountains that afternoon in his pickup truck.

He closed his eyes and stepped off the edge.

The weightlessness hit. Time slowed. The reel began playing as he’d expected: her brown hair flowed in the light breeze. Her dark eyes gazed intently at the charcoal sketch. She sipped her coffee, her slender fingers curled around the sleeve. Then a sudden gust of wind picked the paper off the table, and it floated away… His mother whispered in his ear, "Wake up, sweetie, time to go to school.” Her big eyes looked at him lovingly, her smile so warm… Dad was tucked in his favorite couch putting the finishing touches to his second crossword of the day. “Let's see how good you are – what's six letters and a ‘kind of cable used in knitwear’?” “That’s easy, Dad. Jumper.” He nodded in approval, beaming proudly… Captain Redbeard paced up and down in front of the class, matting down his wild curls with one hand, tapping the eraser against his bearded chin with the other as he rattled off about advanced calculus… Among his best buddies from high school CJ was the fattest, and he was a tank. He downed Jäger bombs like they were fruit juice. “Shot seven, bitches. Suck on my stubby weenie,” he said, tossing the plastic glass away and licking salt from the inside of an empty peanut jar in his hand… His mother returned to wake him up. She spoke softly, “Now we don’t want to be late, do we?”

He opened his eyes to get ready for school.

Then he heard the wind howling in his ears. And he screamed as he plunged right through the white fluffiness.