Bridge Haints | Penana

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Short Story
Bridge Haints
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Writer ADLondon
  • G: General Audiences
  • PG: Parental Guidance Suggested
  • PG-13: Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • R: Restricted
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Bridge Haints
A - A - A
Dec 5, 2015
9 Mins Read
No Plagiarism!Tg7vDCd871kSEL5x1Azsposted 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 protection185PENANAMXYwyeFaLI

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 protection185PENANAhEYo9B0nK8

“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 protection185PENANAo413P6BRGa

“How’s that your business?”copyright protection185PENANAjt8iZGwFRh

“Well, it’s just really hard to climb back over once you change your mind and you might need help.”copyright protection185PENANAn8Wmx6YytI

“—Look, lady, I don’t need help.”copyright protection185PENANAGSNHWDOxuv

“Lady?” She poked the back of my head through the chain link. “I’m twenty—you look loads older than me.”copyright protection185PENANAIOYQ6YxDDo

“Twenty-five.”copyright protection185PENANAU1xQn4XlCq

“See? So what’s the deal?”copyright protection185PENANA4jjR1guPOZ

“Excuse me?”copyright protection185PENANAlwNknTiUwW

“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 protection185PENANAjrXRilVfHy

“I have not been out here an hour.” I snapped, “You have no idea.”copyright protection185PENANAGLRZDTg7I4

“No, I don’t. You could tell me. That is, after we get you back up and over.”copyright protection185PENANA73AUoYNGTk

“I think I prefer being here.”copyright protection185PENANADcMB34WZjE

“Don’t worry, I’m not a psycho killer or anything.”copyright protection185PENANAxZppZ3ifb1

“That wasn’t what I was thinking.”copyright protection185PENANAji5UctT0aM

“Then again, that would be rather convenient wouldn’t it?”copyright protection185PENANAkNZ6o3bl2u

“What?”copyright protection185PENANAZAup0usiKE

“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 protection185PENANAk4WpZ8TS83

“I’m not jumping tonight.”copyright protection185PENANAEtQEAfHMAK

For a moment, there was only silence.copyright protection185PENANAhAlL0lgtE0

“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 protection185PENANA7Y43o3chVk

“That would be such a tragedy, wouldn’t it?” My reply was dry, but it seemed to go straight over her head.copyright protection185PENANAlAOceprWb2

“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 protection185PENANAGsD1eDnu61

“Friend? I’m not your friend.”copyright protection185PENANAud0zhpCtHy

“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 protection185PENANAO29Deo2Gke

It took my mind a moment to catch up to the question, “Uh no.” I was lying.copyright protection185PENANAJ1Hm3V0qq7

“Liar. Everyone’s hungry by the time they get here.”copyright protection185PENANAsVlsuCR65z

Shit. “Erhm well—“copyright protection185PENANAFUBOxQczxx

“Come on, then, up, up, up.” She hit the chain link with every repetition of the word.copyright protection185PENANAOgyvDBqE2Q

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 protection185PENANALuL6XgJPnP

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 protection185PENANAo2JZRgQ4Qn

“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 protection185PENANABEE99iLAXO

I rolled my eyes. “Seriously?”copyright protection185PENANArIjdPgty5Q

“As the plague.”copyright protection185PENANAnuT6tKnkOd

“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 protection185PENANAIpSnz2GlDD

“—Hmmm. That sucks. Although, shouldn’t you have put money in savings if you could?” She didn’t seem particularly judgmental, only curious.copyright protection185PENANAa4mthbJLJP

“I did—not enough but I did.”copyright protection185PENANAC7jveNfB84

She nodded, “Shame you won’t be using it then.”copyright protection185PENANAPQuHd4KUqn

“—Shame?”copyright protection185PENANAxArT3J4NvO

“Up for some drinks?” She called over the waitress, tipping her generously before tugging my arm to leave.copyright protection185PENANAD7WWCaKSLS

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 protection185PENANAWAIriWv2QV

“Arthur Miller Jr.! That was rude!” Green Scarf called out from her position at the kitchen table.copyright protection185PENANApowRiABno6

“You named your cat Arthur Miller?”copyright protection185PENANAb1d7XPiIH3

“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 protection185PENANAAEEj5WgBZ7

“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 protection185PENANAxpv4hNESa2

“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 protection185PENANAYm3cu11MKJ

“Yeah, I was just seeing if you’d lie.”copyright protection185PENANAQkouEurU6q

“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 protection185PENANA1DQxH7lmZw

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 protection185PENANApYSsanuc9e

“What about coffee?”copyright protection185PENANAW0zludQV8W

“Coffee dehydrates you. Drink a glass of water before you drink coffee. It’s a better hangover cure.”copyright protection185PENANAm9AcHij2Ej

“So do you think that jumping was a mistake?” I asked feeling fairly calm since the headache suddenly went away.copyright protection185PENANAz3iswtP0GZ

“Eh—I’ve had better.”copyright protection185PENANAfCZOYt2Opa

“Better?”copyright protection185PENANAKLkkY2Di5h

“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 protection185PENANABElT6RnWS3

“You mean Sylvia Plath?”copyright protection185PENANAV8GVXEpZtO

“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 protection185PENANAadAuyywbRB

“Wouldn’t that kind of kill the business?”copyright protection185PENANAtsfOmmGJiz

“Of what?”copyright protection185PENANANeHt9E7yDA

“Saving people from killing themselves.”copyright protection185PENANAmOOXinwPzn

“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 protection185PENANAq2PGRc3xWl

“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 protection185PENANA6JzOcIskh6

“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 protection185PENANAUDUJBd672F

“Haints?”copyright protection185PENANAusIj9zwc6s

“Oh. I’m sorry. Old term. I forget how long it’s been. Haints are haunts—they’re ghosts, my friend.”copyright protection185PENANAydb81oRuI8

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 protection185PENANAADMvmnItuK

“All those voices must have driven you crazy.” Green scarf’s voice sounded so melancholy suddenly.copyright protection185PENANA8YdQinpPAw

“From that high up, you’ll feel like you’re hitting concrete.”copyright protection185PENANAh8KtgMS8hA

“No one will stop you.”copyright protection185PENANAgSd2nAq53U

“Hey man, are you going to jump or not?”copyright protection185PENANAQcT32brs01

My friend—he was right. It felt like concrete.copyright protection185PENANAZi9KMqxEyO

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