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Short Story
Angst
Bridge Haints
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Writer ADLondon
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  • G: General Audiences
  • PG: Parental Guidance Suggested
  • PG-13: Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • R: Restricted
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Bridge Haints
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ADLondon
Dec 5, 2015
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No Plagiarism!DGc1oAxg9oNuRcfpWtqSposted on PENANA

I always thought that jumping off a bridge was a little dramatic. That’s why sitting on the edge, looking down over the Mississippi River was a little ironic for my tastes. One of my friends once told me that hitting the water from this height would feel like slamming into solid concrete. I don’t think he thought I would take this information with the intent of a practical application. Apparently, once I hit the water, my bones would shatter and my organs would rupture, and if I didn’t die from impact, I would be injured enough to drown. In the dark, the heavily polluted river looked black and endless, more like a thin lake than a river. Cars would drive past me occasionally, but none of them stopped for the pedestrian that managed to climb up over the fence and made his way over to the edge.copyright protection143PENANAEelCNeY0wl

I knew it the moment that I was on the other side of the chain link; I really didn’t want to jump. I still teased the edge, but I didn’t want to. That’s what I thought I would tell people if they came to my aid. They didn’t, so I was left almost entirely alone. People were never helpful. When I tell them what’s bothering me, they decide to ship me off or wonder if I should be locked up. Then they leave me.copyright protection143PENANAMa2YcqzJHI

“Hey—man—“ I thought it was brilliant that there was some Good Samaritan but I didn’t bother to turn around, “—are you going to jump or not?”copyright protection143PENANA8udZHspDWP

“How’s that your business?”copyright protection143PENANAwA4RdR6bSC

“Well, it’s just really hard to climb back over once you change your mind and you might need help.”copyright protection143PENANAxEMzDY0cIH

“—Look, lady, I don’t need help.”copyright protection143PENANAVQc9QTBfxx

“Lady?” She poked the back of my head through the chain link. “I’m twenty—you look loads older than me.”copyright protection143PENANA5389Vl11wT

“Twenty-five.”copyright protection143PENANAE4xrEbpEo8

“See? So what’s the deal?”copyright protection143PENANAmkYztOt540

“Excuse me?”copyright protection143PENANAD94Li06k1D

“Well, I just want to know why you’re sitting on a ledge in the middle of winter. There’s usually some reason. Most people don’t go ‘oh look, there’s a bridge with super high chain link preventing people walking or biking from falling, I’m going to climb on the other side and sit there for an hour! That is the height of excitement! It’s certainly not a way to get a good high though—or silence. Unless you jump.”copyright protection143PENANAdFIK6mWw1k

“I have not been out here an hour.” I snapped, “You have no idea.”copyright protection143PENANAEoFDX8sqew

“No, I don’t. You could tell me. That is, after we get you back up and over.”copyright protection143PENANArRGwDZwKjy

“I think I prefer being here.”copyright protection143PENANAowe6hlsdSt

“Don’t worry, I’m not a psycho killer or anything.”copyright protection143PENANAywRdaPmCgA

“That wasn’t what I was thinking.”copyright protection143PENANA9HsPe6OLQ8

“Then again, that would be rather convenient wouldn’t it?”copyright protection143PENANAjeExkVTM9L

“What?”copyright protection143PENANAgIi7VsWi5c

“Me being a psycho killer would make the whole life or death thing easier for you. Either survival would kick in and you would try to overpower me—therefore you want to live—or you die.” She giggled, despite the situation, “Sorry, I think we forgot to take our meds today.”copyright protection143PENANASeUl49rTUi

“I’m not jumping tonight.”copyright protection143PENANA1ewGMQCFDL

For a moment, there was only silence.copyright protection143PENANArTuJ1pcYHh

“Then let’s get you back on this side.” She didn’t sound patronizing in any way, like other people did when they were talking me down. Those people always talked to me like I was a small unreasonable child. The stranger, however, sounded like she was simply having a conversation, “Sleeping on that ledge would be horrible for your back—and you might fall.”copyright protection143PENANAbAw6WBgovb

“That would be such a tragedy, wouldn’t it?” My reply was dry, but it seemed to go straight over her head.copyright protection143PENANAGwpcdc3PSG

“Definitely. I don’t like losing new friends.” She smiled, “You definitely would have died—Houdini refused to jump off Eads, you know. He thought it was a looonnnng way down. Which it is. Makes me dizzy even thinking about it. What a tragedy—”copyright protection143PENANABjA52CvfBc

“Friend? I’m not your friend.”copyright protection143PENANAxMN3SKF98a

“You engaged in conversation with me. You are now my friend,” she announced cheerfully, “it’s not like I’ve got anything better to do. I only get new friends every once in a while. Usually I have to wait until New Years or Valentines Day. Hey are you hungry?”copyright protection143PENANAkOHJ0UW4KO

It took my mind a moment to catch up to the question, “Uh no.” I was lying.copyright protection143PENANALl7lraYWpz

“Liar. Everyone’s hungry by the time they get here.”copyright protection143PENANA9WlW0eGGnP

Shit. “Erhm well—“copyright protection143PENANAQHDyrEsnIc

“Come on, then, up, up, up.” She hit the chain link with every repetition of the word.copyright protection143PENANAbtyjOZuNVT

I found myself stumbling up and facing the girl. She was bundled up in a black coat with a horrible lime green scarf drawn tightly around her neck and a bright red beanie pulled down and over her ears. She stuck her hand through the chain link. “Take a step off my hand. No, it won’t hurt, just go up.”copyright protection143PENANAm4QI1RXIxl

I shrugged. It was her fault if I accidentally broke her fingers, and I stepped up, finding that she supported me long enough to grab at the bar at the top. It was harder to get back over, and I found that I fell, hitting my knees and scraping my hands. I looked up at my semi-sort of—not really savior, and she smiled down at me. I expected her to hold out her hand or something but instead she just turned around.copyright protection143PENANAxo3bWuPoSx

“Come on—we’re getting some pie.” She linked arms with me when I caught up and I felt like we faded from one place to the other, sitting at a southern fried shop with a large piece of coconut cream pie in front of me. Green Scarf was finishing off her fourth plate, this time a slice of chocolate silk. She ate with a relish, like that slice was the first piece she had that week. “So are you going to tell me what’s going on?”copyright protection143PENANAB40anP9SC5

I rolled my eyes. “Seriously?”copyright protection143PENANALZ9CHbuET1

“As the plague.”copyright protection143PENANA0rq3CmyrLq

“Fine. I lost my job, have nothing in savings, my parents have disowned me, my girlfriend left me and my brother, who is better at everything than me, will be getting everything.” I winced. When I listed it in a clinical way, it didn’t really sound like much at all.copyright protection143PENANAYnuZxSOGKr

“—Hmmm. That sucks. Although, shouldn’t you have put money in savings if you could?” She didn’t seem particularly judgmental, only curious.copyright protection143PENANALwqV986DM0

“I did—not enough but I did.”copyright protection143PENANAFNr5Q4sovd

She nodded, “Shame you won’t be using it then.”copyright protection143PENANAOuAjt8chPX

“—Shame?”copyright protection143PENANAIBu8wEgDh3

“Up for some drinks?” She called over the waitress, tipping her generously before tugging my arm to leave.copyright protection143PENANAEXR53H9v5F

The next thing I knew, I was waking up to a fluffy white cat with a smushed up face resting comfortably on my chest. Its yellow eyes seemed to be searching mine, almost like there was a mouse behind my head. I blinked. The cat blinked. I blinked again. Slowly I rose, trying not to disturb the cat and placed it on my lap. It bit me and jumped off.copyright protection143PENANAJU9keCsrUh

“Arthur Miller Jr.! That was rude!” Green Scarf called out from her position at the kitchen table.copyright protection143PENANApCSTLpx23P

“You named your cat Arthur Miller?”copyright protection143PENANA6HMXNPFXlK

“Jr.” She added, “—I like Arthur Miller. Except The Crucible. I don’t know why they teach his worst work first in high school, it’s like they don’t want us reading or watching plays—“copyright protection143PENANAC4FMoUoQlj

“How did I get here?” I asked, even though I vaguely remember shots and stumbling into an apartment.  It didn’t seem completely right though. The memory was pretty hazy, even for alcohol, almost like I decided that it was what happened. It was like the morning Sheila left with all of her things. She was shouting at me, telling me that she couldn’t take it anymore, telling me that I needed help, real help—copyright protection143PENANA8LV1EHrcJu

“Don’t you remember?” She pulled at the green scarf as if it was choking her. I wondered why she didn’t just take it off.copyright protection143PENANA1QcOO0EtXZ

“Yeah, I was just seeing if you’d lie.”copyright protection143PENANAdA4TmsNLj9

“You have a sense of humor! I knew it! It was just lying somewhere deep in that bitter and entitled soul of yours. You need one of those for this life.”copyright protection143PENANA4sU0tzIVLr

She pressed a glass of water in my hands. I stared at the slice of cucumber floating in it for a moment before taking a tentative sip.copyright protection143PENANApNiCB6Cgzz

“What about coffee?”copyright protection143PENANAfNakHxMvi6

“Coffee dehydrates you. Drink a glass of water before you drink coffee. It’s a better hangover cure.”copyright protection143PENANAEnyzo296XU

“So do you think that jumping was a mistake?” I asked feeling fairly calm since the headache suddenly went away.copyright protection143PENANAymIQZkXBAw

“Eh—I’ve had better.”copyright protection143PENANAbQkla1SXwb

“Better?”copyright protection143PENANA3bzBLXDU4B

“Some lady decided to stick her head in an oven after she published an awesome novel.” Green Scarf played with the ends of her accessory freely. “It’s sad—you could be the top of your class, brilliant in every way, and still be done in by mental illness—and that sadness. Poor thing—“copyright protection143PENANAPCYxtXRqys

“You mean Sylvia Plath?”copyright protection143PENANAXKjh6tjYqQ

“What is it with suicidal people and knowing who she is? I should add it to the handbook: ‘don’t read Plath while depressed’”copyright protection143PENANAau1J6MHKHL

“Wouldn’t that kind of kill the business?”copyright protection143PENANAlwnj4RgVhP

“Of what?”copyright protection143PENANAofAHwGbQEB

“Saving people from killing themselves.”copyright protection143PENANAGP6IzcvgWc

“Oh I didn’t save you.” Green Scarf pulled at her scarf again, clawing it from the inside out as if it were a collar that she couldn’t shake off.copyright protection143PENANA2hJqBNhRJy

“Why don’t you take that off?” I reached for her but she shook her head, a plastic smile stretching across her face. I supposed it was time for me to ask her what she meant, “What?”copyright protection143PENANAH7NhOkXZbC

“I didn’t save you. Watched you jump right then and there—no hesitation—swallowed a whole bunch of pills—your doctors had you on a lot, anti depressants, anti-psychotics, mood stabilizers, and you paired it with your wine for good measure. Seemed that you were pretty committed. If it weren’t for me you’d have never left the bridge. We can’t have haints running all over.”copyright protection143PENANABRrIA0U5hQ

“Haints?”copyright protection143PENANAij81JJO1Bx

“Oh. I’m sorry. Old term. I forget how long it’s been. Haints are haunts—they’re ghosts, my friend.”copyright protection143PENANAziFnAuIxuT

I frowned, trying to go over the events in my head. I remember climbing over the chain link. I swallowed a few pills—more than a few—and then swigged the last of the bottle, tossing it into the river. The image skipped and twitched in my head like an old film reel but I felt the ledge, rough under my fingers as I considered it, a small voice whispering in my ear. It was only then that I saw the girl in the atrocious green scarf, almost guiding me down until she was stopped, choked by a green scarf dangling from the ceiling—she told me she had a shorter drop than me—I didn’t believe her. Where did the ceiling come from? Where did anything come from? I never solved that mystery before impact.copyright protection143PENANAa5LBNlCIrU

“All those voices must have driven you crazy.” Green scarf’s voice sounded so melancholy suddenly.copyright protection143PENANAzJeILYrAZ3

“From that high up, you’ll feel like you’re hitting concrete.”copyright protection143PENANA8zmNXWhFuL

“No one will stop you.”copyright protection143PENANAzERkgFGSn8

“Hey man, are you going to jump or not?”copyright protection143PENANANWS1FDZ6dZ

My friend—he was right. It felt like concrete.copyright protection143PENANAalyw9vsqaW

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