ENG At the cliff
Leo was turning 30 and found himself in this situation. Fortune seemed to have turned away from him forever. First, misfortune hit his business, in which Leo invested all his money and energy. Being a boy, he was dreaming of owning a cafe. He pictured a cozy hall, French wicker chairs, with photographs of old cars on the walls ... Leo worked at two jobs, saving every penny until he had enough money to rent the space and buy equipment.
He rented a cafe in a popular, crowded area. He outfitted the cafe exactly as he had dreamed in his childhood, hired two cooks and developed the menu. The cafe was never empty. Clerks and secretaries from the neighboring offices came before work to drink coffee with hot buns and read the morning newspapers. Taxi drivers came at lunch to eat a steak with mashed potatoes. In the evening, courting couples came to the caf;; they liked the French chanson, which was played there.
Leo already began to make a decent profit and continued to improvement his caf;. He bought a large TV and exotic plants in pots. Leo's wife helped with the bookkeeping and gave some ideas for the design. But a Chinese restaurant opened to the left of Leo’s Cafe and many customers left, enticed by the exotic. Leo tried to fight with his competitor and lowered prices. But because of this, he had to let one of his chefs go and reduce the salary of the waitresses.
A month later, an American fast food restaurant opened on the right. Leo calculated that the caf; now had no more than seven visitors a day. He fired the waitresses and he and Laura themselves began to serve the occasional customers. Attempts to save his business failed. Leo owed the suppliers of products and could not pay for utilities. His lifetime dream was getting vanished.
Leo lost his appetite and slept occasionally. Tired and gloomy, he returned home late, counting losses in his mind and trying to come up with a plan to escape. On one of these evenings he saw his wife with another man. They were sitting in a dark red Mercedes parked under a street lamp and kissed passionately. Leo, exhausted by his failures with business, stood and looked in silence. He saw his beloved beautiful Laura hugging a stranger, in an expensive suit , as his hand pulled the strap of the dress from her shoulder...
Leo felt a burning pain in his heart and stood frozen, paralyzed, unable to move though the eerie scene in the Mercedes stuck in his memory for a long time.
He tried not to think about it, along with Laura’s words, as she shouted, picking up her suitcase:
—Yes, I had an affair and I'm not ashamed of that! I can't live with you! You are loser! You are falling into a hole and you want to take me with you!
Leo stood with his back to her, gazed at the lights of the evening city outside the window, and seemed to hear nothing. He realized that Laura, his beloved and only friend, betrayed and abandoned him at the most difficult moment in his life.
— Why? How could she? — Leo asked himself unhesitatingly.
Everything lost its meaning. It was not necessary to rush to the caf; or to make morning coffee for his sweetheart. There was no longer a reason to shave; a burning clot of pain constantly stuck in his chest. Leo tried to forget with the help of beer and wine, but the heaviness did not decrease. During the day yearning teared to pieces, at night - insomnia or nightmares.
Constantly in his mind was the image of Laura and her arms around another man. Leo felt the scent of her skin, smelled of meadow flowers, heard her frequent breathing and muffled love sighs, as if she was there. Alcohol first increased his agonizing hallucinations, then plunged him into a black dream. Waking up, Leo saw Laura again, her eyes closed with pleasure, her slender hand on the neck of a stranger in an expensive suit...
Is it worth living in this hell? Work, wife, money — everything is lost. There are only debts left, which cannot be paid. It seemed that all good things were gone forever together with Laura. Leo could not think about future without anguish and fear. He involuntarily remembered his uncle, who shot himself with a gun, and a cousin who hung himself. The causes of both suicides were unknown. The family talked about secret losses in the casino, about deadly diseases and even mistresses who blackmailed. But all these were just speculation. Now Leo seemed to understand why his relatives had chosen this path. They were just tired of life.
He was tired too. Driving his car, he looked at the mountains on both sides of the road and whispered:
— Only courageous people can voluntarily leave their lives when they realize that they have failed.
He confidently drove the car through a narrow mountain pass to the seashore. He was thinking about Laura. Leo imagined her face when she knew what had happened. Of course, she realized her guilt, shuddered with bitter shame and, most likely, cried. She'd never been insensitive. Let her live with eternal guilt on her conscience, Leo thought, driving to a high rock at the edge of the sea.
It was a favorite place for climbers; one slope of the mountain was steep, almost vertical, while the other was a steep slope, capable of driving a car on.
At three hundred meters from the top there was a place for parking. Leo left his car there, and walked; the sun was setting, and at dusk it was difficult to climb a slippery path, but Leo fearlessly forged ahead.
— In five minutes it will end, dear Laura, — he muttered, grinning bitterly.
He climbed up the top and suddenly saw a human silhouette in the last rays of the sunset. Someone stood on the edge and leaned over, as if measuring the height of the cliff.
— Are you wondering how long it will take you to fall? — asked Leo, unexpectedly for himself.
The stranger quickly turned the face toward Leo. It was a young girl in a light raincoat and the mountain breeze ruffled her long, loose hair.
— Only 5 seconds, — Leo continued, — but, people say, during this time, your whole life passes before you.
He stepped toward the girl and saw that her eyes were filled with tears and her face was frightened. She extended her hand toward Leo as if forbidding Leo to come closer.
— Ok, I will not come closer, — he said calmly. — I just want to warn you. People do not care about your suffering. Do you think that you will force someone to suffer guilt because of your death? It's pointless! You'll smash your head and you'll lie on the stones, crippled and bloodied. They will bury you and in three days they will forget you. What is the purpose to kill yourself?
Leo’s voice sounded loud and convincing and the girl quickly walked away from the cliff.
— Why did you want to do that? —Leo asked.
— Did you lose your favorite work as I did? Did you lose your life’s savings like me? Did a man close to you left you and you found yourself alone at the most difficult time of your life?
He held his hand out to the girl, wanting to take her by the elbow and taking them away from the abyss. She suddenly smiled and quickly wiped her eyes with the back of her hand.
— Don't worry! I wasn't going to jump! I just took pictures of the mountains and accidentally dropped my phone and my eyes became wet because of the wind… You know, you're very nice, kind and intelligent. You just need someone who can support you when you are down. Do you want me to be that person?
With these words, the girl took Leo's hand and led him away from the cliff.
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