He stood with his back to the room, his face to the great arched window that extended across the east wall. It was the break of dawn, and he could see the sun rising above the towering skyscrapers, painting the sky a rose-touched periwinkle. He sighed and closed his eyes for a moment. He’d love to paint the scene—he pictured the way the oil paints would glide over the canvas, how the pale gray would blend subtly into the touches of golden and the lingering traces of clouds. The skyscrapers would rise up to meet the sky, firm strokes of black and silver, highlights in white and reflections in pale blue… I should take a picture, he thought. To paint later. He leaned forward and pushed open the window. It slid up smoothly, so unlike the stubborn, stiff windows in his own apartment, with their thin metal frames and cracked glass panels. Again, he sighed. He drew his phone out of his pocket. It had once been sleek and silver, but now it was caseless, a jagged fracture spreading over the silent black screen, the back covered in scratches. It took three attempts to turn it on.
He opened up the camera app and took a deep whiff of the air from outside. It smelled like the city, somehow fresh and polluted all at once. He lifted the phone and snapped the picture, then glanced down at it and wrinkled his nose. The lighting was wrong--all wrong. He slid the window up farther, and stuck his head through the frame, peering down at the asphalt road and rapid cars below. If he could hold the phone out the window, just so…
He narrowed his eyes in concentration and pushed his entire upper body through the frame, holding the camera out in front of him at arm’s length. He stared at the image on the screen for a few moments, contemplating it, then smiled.
Carefully, he moved to snap the picture, but just as he was about to, the phone slipped from his sweaty fingers. He scrambled to catch it, and in the process, he felt himself slide forward, farther out of the window. He gritted his teeth and grasped at the phone, teetering against the window frame as he struggled to secure it. After what seemed like an eternity, he grasped the metal surface in his fingertips, and he let out a sigh of relief. It was safe.
He realized it was happening a moment before it did. For a moment he felt himself suspended in air, free.
Then, he plummeted and he hit the road below with a sickening thud.
I'm a high school senior from Millburn, NJ.