Another party, a year later, I watched her seated on the windowsill sipping her drink, staring moodily down to the street below. I knew that look more and more. She was floating off in her personal daydream, out of contact, gripped by thoughts that could not be pleasant. I went up to her and said softly, “Hey, psst, come back.”
She turned, “I’m going to have sleep troubles again tonight. I get that way now and then.” It was the first time she spoke of this. “I’m thinking it’s a quick way down from here.” I nodded because it was a fact. Silence. She continued. “Who’d know the difference if I went?” I answered, “I would—and all the people in this room who care. They’d hear the crash.”
She laughed. Right then and there we made a pact. If either of us was about to jump, or take the gas, or the rope, or pills, he or she would phone the other. We each committed ourselves to talk the other out of it. We made the pact jokingly, but I believed it. I felt that one day I would get a call. She’d say, “It’s me, I’m on the ledge,” and I’d reply, “You can’t jump today, it’s Lincoln’s birthday,” or something unfunny like that.