The visit to Pennsylvania had proven to be a disaster. Evelyn McHale’s fiancé had broken off their engagement. In some ways it was to be expected. So many lives had been placed on hold during the Second World War, and so many lives had changed and were still changing once the war had ended. The divorce rate, which pre-war had been two out of every one thousand marriages, had doubled in 1946. But those were statistics, and when Evelyn returned to her own bookkeeping on Monday morning, she returned with a broken heart. And in the weeks that followed she obsessed on her disappointment.
In the first second of the end of her life Evelyn McHale dropped 32 feet, or about three stories. Over the next second she fell an additional 64 feet. Over the third second she traveled another 128 feet. Over the fourth second she fell 238 feet. By the fifth second she was traveling over 60 miles an hour, and the sensation of falling would have caused her body to release massive amounts of adrenalin. But she would never feel its effects. She would have felt an eerily calm, which I suspect surprised her. She might have realized she was falling away from the building, driven by the wind and by her effort to avoid the abutments and ledges. And she would have felt the regret for her decision, but it was now too late. At the speed of about 100 miles an hour, her body slammed into the sheet steel roof of a Cadillac limonene parked 200 feet up 34th Street.
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