A Moment on the Bridge

He saw the whole thing, if it could be called a thing. She had been walking a few yards ahead of him. He hadn’t noticed her, except in the way you notice that there are cars on the road or other tables in a restaurant. She had paused, only briefly, like a dog choosing where best to pee, then she mounted the railing and went over the edge. She hadn’t made a show of it–no arms spread wide in sacrifice to the wind or the earth or the God that didn’t love her, the way TV shows and movies have you expect–and nobody but him noticed it happened. When he realized what she’d done, he looked around him for confirmation of the thing he’d just seen or at least a fellow witness to say phrases like What the fuck? to, but no one made eye contact. No one had seen. He ran to the place where she had been moments before, yanked his headphones from his ears. He leaned over the edge as if to catch her. He saw ripples, a break in the river’s rhythm, probably only noticeable because he was looking for it. He didn’t see her, no head or flailing arms to signal a changed mind, a refreshed thirst for life.

What shook him most was that she hadn’t hesitated, hadn’t shown signs of anything–no sullen, exaggerated sadness in her gait, no tears or show of fear. It was a decision made before that day, before she ever set foot on the bridge. It had looked like something that was supposed to happen, like morning or the end of a movie. There had been no question, no invitation or chance of interference or avoidance. He felt skeptical of his eyes because of the certainty with which it had happened as though there were things he didn’t know, things that, had he known them, he wouldn’t have thought what she’d done was wrong. He stood against the railing a moment longer, counted to thirty to give her a chance to break the surface. He counted slow and not with any even rhythm, just counted as the numbers came. When he did not see her, he pushed back from the railing, replaced his headphones, and walked home without incidence.

2 responses to “A Moment on the Bridge

  1. Whoa. Highly vivid, certainly evocative.

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