She didn’t know she was being watched. But if she had, she probably wouldn’t have cared. It took her three tries before she finally made the choice. Three times, she walked up to the bridge, fist clenched tight, only to turn around and walk away.
It was the fourth time that stuck, really. When she decided that she didn’t want to deal with it anymore, that she wanted to put it behind her, both figuratively and literally. She decided that she wanted to put him out of her head – that she couldn’t stand one more day thinking about what had been. It was a very special kind of torture – one that she’d been putting herself through.
And it had to end.
She needed to bury this in her past.
There had to be some peace.
And if this was the only way she could get it, then so be it.
She made her way to the middle of the bridge slowly, with measured footsteps, each one clanging loudly against the hollow metal.
Usually, you could barely hear yourself think for the traffic roaring across the bridge, but it was the middle of the night and thus, silent.
Standing in the center, she looked down at the river, the cool water nearly still. The moon gazed back at her, faceted, a round little face in every ripple made by the slight breeze.
There should be some ceremony to this, shouldn’t there?
But somehow, after all of the journaling and the crying…. And the writing tons of bad poetry, she found herself without anything left to say. So she stood in silence for a few moments, looking at the river.
It was then, in the cool stillness of the night, that she heard quick, panicked footsteps, rushing toward her from the other side of the bridge. She looked up to see some guy running at her.
He yelled at her from a distance.
What the hell did this weirdo want?
She shook her head in mild annoyance and waited, hoping that he wasn’t a serial killer.
He knew he’d have a hangover. He could almost feel the headache building behind his eyes. Some part of him wondered whether it was better to just lay down and sleep on the bench, right there. It felt like a better idea than dragging his drunk butt up and down the block to the train station to get home.
Just a few more minutes, he decided.
He’d give himself a few more minutes to sober up and then he’d haul his sorry ass back to the train station.
He watched the same girl walk up to the bridge a couple of times on the bank opposite. She would walk right up to the cusp of the bridge and stop. Then she would tuck a strand of hair behind her ear and stand there for a few minutes, before turning around and walking away.
He saw her do this a couple of times, and he saw her resolve strengthen when she stepped onto the bridge. The decision was made. She wasn’t backing down this time.
Like he was in a state to deal with this right now?
Weren’t there… like, brigades of people who watched bridges for the purpose of stopping suicides?
Well, wherever those brigades were, they’d missed this bridge and this girl on this night. Not like he had anything particularly sage or interesting to tell her, but he had to try, right?
He wobbled the first couple of steps, but the combination of the chill air and the thought of what she was about to do sobered him up pretty quickly.
What if he was too late?
She stood at the center of the bridge, gazing sadly into the water.
He had to stop her. He had to say something… do something, didn’t he?
“Wait!” he called out.
She looked at him, dark eyes annoyed, as he ran the rest of the way across the bridge, meeting her in the middle, more than a little out of breath.
“Yes?” she asked, looking down at the guy bent almost in two, huffing and puffing in front of her.
She waited until he’d caught his breath, until he managed to stand upright and form a complete sentence.
He looked at her gravely, the somberness of the look somewhat diminished by the fact that he was still breathing pretty hard.
“You can’t do this,” he said finally, laying a hand gently on her shoulder.
“I can’t?” she asked.
“No, you can’t,” he said, looking increasingly alarmed. “Look – I don’t know you, but there must be something you have left to live for – someone you love or someone who cares about you. Or… Or… a pet.”
He finished the sentence a bit lamely, but was determined to plow onward.
“I know that things seem dark right now,” he said. “But tomorrow is a brand new day and things will be better. Well, actually, I don’t know if they’ll be better tomorrow… But if not tomorrow, then the day after that, or the day after that. Life will get better. Whatever it is that seems so horrible now…. I promise, it’ll get better.”
“It will?” she asked calmly, raising an eyebrow at him. “How would you know?”
He flushed a bit, getting the distinct impression that she was humoring him, but he carried on.
“I don’t know,” he said. “No one ever really knows, do they? But whatever it is, life will keep going on. There must be something…. You’re so young. Too young to throw it all away.”
He looked about her age, so it was pretty rich of him to call her ‘young’, but she took it in stride. She sighed, looking him up and down, taking in the rumpled shirt and the booze on his breath.
Ok… so he had no idea what he was doing. But he had to make one last attempt.
“Please don’t kill yourself,” he said. “Please don’t.”
She sighed and halfway glared at him.
“I’m not here to kill myself,” she told him, matter-of-factly.
“You’re not?” he asked. “Then why are you here?”
Wordlessly, she held up her hand, unclenching her fist to reveal the gold necklace pooled in her palm.
It glimmered even in the dim lighting – a gold chain with a bright ruby-and-pearl pendant. The pearls almost seemed to glow.
Still without word or comment, she closed her fist around it and hurled it as hard as she could into the darkness. It was too small to make any kind of splash, but he thought he saw a tiny trail of gold as the necklace arced into the darkness.
“It was beautiful,” he said. “Why’d you want to get rid of it?”
“It was the only really valuable thing he ever gave me,” she shrugged. “I’ve burned all of the letters. And whatever clothes he left behind, but… I just needed to let it go. I needed to let him go.”
“Why couldn’t you just pawn it or give it away like a normal girl?”
It was her turn to shrug.
“Why would you want to pass your bad luck on to someone else?”
“I don’t know,” he said.
And there, in the moonlight mingled with darkness, her reason seemed valid.
He scuffed his shoe against the planks under their feet, suddenly unsure of what to say, or at least, a great deal more unsure than he’d been a few minutes ago, when everything had seemed simple. Dire, true, but simple.
“So…” he said. “What’s there to do now?”
She nodded at the river.
“That’s my plans for the evening done.”
“I suppose… go home now?” she said. “Get some sleep?”
“That’s a little mundane, don’t you think?”
She shrugged again.
“A mundane night isn’t necessarily a bad one,” she said.
Valid. He much preferred a mundane night to the one he’d thought she was having.
“Ok,” he said. “Good night, I guess.”
She started to walk away, taking it step by step back to her side of the bridge, when he called out.
“Hey,” he yelled, unnecessarily loudly across the small distance. “See you here same time tomorrow night?”
She thought about it for a moment.
She went home and she slept.
Mundane endings weren’t bad. And after all, sometimes they led to interesting beginnings.
Prompt courtesy of:
Image Courtesy of:
Me. I took this one.