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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2311446-At-the-Bridge
Rated: ASR · Short Story · Drama · #2311446
Two people find themselves in the same situation (tw: suicide) 970 words
I meandered along the crowded streets of New York, losing myself in the heedless rush of consumers and commuters, surrounded by people, yet utterly alone.

Life held nothing for me. I once was successful, but then business diminished and I lost everything. Now Time mocked me with its inscrutable slow passage.

When I grew tired of walking, I sat down at an outdoor restaurant and began people-watching. Often I would imagine stories behind the myriad fleeting figures. Sometimes I wrote down my imaginings; usually I let them slide through my consciousness without a second thought.

Life flowed endlessly by, until it became a blur, like a sped-up scene in a movie. After a long while, my eyes turned to focus on two young women who were sitting on a bench several seats away from me.

The blonde one was talking with an animated grin, but the other one was distracted and withdrawn. I studied that second woman carefully. She was beautiful: wavy auburn hair, green eyes, finely chiseled features. Yet there was an unhappy, even haunted, aura in that stunning face. I was drawn to it, half imagining our sadness held something in common, wishing I could get to know her and plumb the secrets that lay beneath such a face. I couldn't recall ever seeing someone so pretty who appeared so distraught.

As her companion kept speaking, the pretty woman glanced around obliviously, making random eye contact with me. She smiled automatically at first, but quickly stifled it and turned away with a slight frown when she realized I had been staring. She leaned towards her friend and said something. The other woman then gave me a dirty look. I shifted my gaze awkwardly down to my worn-out shoes and decided it was time to move on, though my thoughts about her had not been of the naughty sort at all.

***

At my apartment building I was met with a lockout notice. The landlord had lost patience with me; I was three months behind on the rent. I scowled at the yellow paper.

"Hey buddy, wanna share some weed?" A neighbor appeared at my shoulder. "It's good stuff—help you deal with your problems."

"No, I have a much better way to handle them," I snapped, pushing past him.

"Really? Can I try some?"

I didn't bother replying as I stomped away. That night I blew my remaining money at the bar. I had a plan.

It was about one in the morning when I headed towards the bridge in the residential district. The streets were empty except for the occasional car slipping quietly past. When I reached my destination, someone else was standing there: a woman. It was her. I knew almost instinctively, though I couldn't see her face. Oh, no. If she saw me she'd think I was stalking her. And I needed to be alone to complete my plan.

But what was a nice lady like her doing out on the bridge at this hour? I was torn between hiding somewhere and waiting for her to leave, and approaching to ask if she was okay. She solved my dilemma by turning around and spotting me.

We stood there staring at each other. She reached for a can of mace hanging with the keys on her purse. I held up my hands.

"Uh, excuse me," I mumbled. "I'm not following you, really. I was just, uh, passing through."

She wasn't buying my feeble fib. I half expected her to spray me and call the police. I was about to turn and slink away when,

"We're here for the same reason, aren't we?"

Her voice was low and calm. It suited her stately figure and lovely face perfectly.

"I—I don't understand. What reason?"

"To end it all. Why else?"

"No—not you!" I was horrified. "But why? You're beautiful! You must have so much to live for."

"You don't know what I've been through. And I don't know what brought you here."

"I'm just some random loser. You don't have to try to stop me. But please, don't you do it. Things will get better. Really. Your life is worth living."

"If I told you that, would you believe it?" Her lips twitched.

"It doesn't apply to me. I don't have a life. I don't even have a home now. My landlord locked me out this afternoon."

"Do you think my life is any better than that?"

"Come on, surely you have a place to live."

"No, quite frankly. My husband is an alcoholic. A beater and a cheater."

"That's no reason to die!" I protested.

"By the same logic, your unreasonable landlord is not a reason to die either," she observed. "But why do you care whether I live or die, when you're about to do the same?"

"I—I love you! You're the most beautiful woman I've ever seen, but I can never get to know you because I'm just a poor fool who had too much to drink tonight, with nothing left over. I have nothing to lose except you. Don't make me lose you too!"

I was babbling like an idiot. She looked me over. Then she reached out a hand, with a smile like the one she had given me the day before.

"I think we both agree this is a bad idea, so what say we go sit down at an all-night diner somewhere? We can talk about our problems, and maybe they won't seem so awful anymore."

I would do anything to be with this lady. Even if it meant prolonging my pathetic wasted life. As we walked down the street together, away from the bridge, I didn't yet understand that what I'd thought was the end was really only the beginning. But I did understand that somehow, we were meant for each other.


If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please call or text 988, the US Suicide Prevention Hotline. You are not alone.


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