Terminal Velocity

It was Billy’s idea. Kelly was supportive, but she held some manner of hesitance. She wasn’t sure if Billy’s emotional pain had overpowered him or if she was just curious about whether or not the myth had any semblance of truth to it; but she went along with his impassioned curiosity because she wanted to acquire a firm solution. They agreed to meet at a rooftop bar during off peak hours, and when he showed up he displayed his large bag of pennies with pride. “I’ve been saving them over the last three months,” he explained. The myth was that if a penny was dropped from a certain altitude it could kill a person at ground level. Kelly had always maintained the opinion that it was a complete fabrication, that a penny wasn’t valuable enough to end someone’s life, but Billy always had a strong argument. “It’s not the value of the object that matters,” he said, “What does matter is the size and height.”

After five drinks each they were pretty drunk. There was a lot of talk about “the greater the height, the greater the fall” and that it was better to “live fast and die young.” It was a concept Kelly had a hard time wrapping her mind around because she felt that she had her whole life ahead of her and plenty of time to figure things out. Billy walked over to the edge of the roof and pulled out a penny. “Ready?” he asked. He dropped the penny and watched it fall. He then grabbed another penny out of the bag and dropped it. Then another, and another, then two at a time, then three, then four, and then he stopped and smiled at Kelly, a sign that a great truth was about to be revealed. She peered over the roof as far as she could to try and see the amount of damage he caused. “It’s hard to say,” she concluded. “Bullshit. There has to be a concrete solution.” He sneered, and then dumped the remaining pennies.

He peered over the edge and shook his head. “Not good enough.” He went and got himself another drink. “Does it really matter in the end?” she asked. “And what if it could kill someone from this high up? It still wouldn’t affect you.” “And that’s where you’re wrong,” he replied. He sat up on the ledge of the roof facing her. A wide smile draped across his face, the comfort of his state of mind made apparent by his fluid motion. “It affects me directly because I dropped the penny. I set this chain in motion.”

He sipped the last of his drink and handed the glass to Kelly. She grabbed his hand and tried to yank him off the ledge, telling him that he shouldn’t be up there and that he was no longer in the right frame of mind to pontificate scientific myths. He refused to follow her movements, and when she gave up her face dropped to an expression of resignation and concern. “Don’t worry about me, Kelly, there are more complex problems to worry about.” He leaned back, the air gently catching him. Kelly peered over the edge with tears in her eyes, wondering if he truly reached his peak, and how long it was going to take to pick up the pieces.

Daniel Naman is an award-winning filmmaker living in New York City. He is an avid fan of human emotions but will occasionally find himself in an emotional stranglehold. Nevertheless, with a little elbow grease and ketchup he finds a way to win in the end.

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