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The temperature on the Golden Gate bridge was chilly as I walked along the railing. A mixture of the wind and the breezes created by the passing cars made it seem even cooler than it actually was. The sky was dark, lit up mostly by the lights along the bridge. The stars were barely visible, which made me sad, as they were the only source of hope I’d had for the past two and half years.

My auburn hair whipped violently in the wind as I ambled along. I tried my hardest to keep my hands from shaking as I gripped the railing with all of my strength. My knuckles turned white from the strain. I stared down at the them, willing myself not to break down. This was it. All I had to do was jump. It would all be over then.

I threw one leg and then another over the ledge, taking a deep inhale after each. My hands were clammy from the nerves and my heart hammered against my chest in an uneven beat. I lowered myself down onto the pipelike ledge. The foot traffic was almost nonexistent, so I didn’t have to worry that someone would see me and stop me. Breathing through my nose, I stood on the uneven, circular ledge, literally clinging to dear life. My hands curled tightly around the poles behind me and I gazed down at the dark, roiling water below me.

They say it only takes four seconds to hit the water. Four seconds and it would all be over.

“Interesting choice,” a voice said above me.

I felt my heart lurch and my grip almost slipped. Pressing my back into the bars almost painfully, I steadied myself until I was sure I wasn’t going to fall accidentally. Slowly, I raised my head to look at a boy, about my age, sitting on the railing above my head. He had dark, shaggy black hair that fell in his eyes as he cocked his head at me curiously.

“I would choose overdosing myself,” he shrugged. “But, hey! To each his own.”

I stared at him in shock. Where had he come from? I’d made sure to look before climbing over so that I could have as much time to myself as I needed before I finally let go. I suddenly felt suffocated and pressure began building in my chest as I alternated my gaze between the mysterious boy above me and the intimidating water below.

“You know, someone once set up cameras here and they caught 19 people committing suicide and even more attempting it,” he said off-handedly. He was sitting casually, almost carefree, on the edge, kicking his feet a little. He looked out at the fog that clung to the edges of the water before setting his easy gaze on me. “How old are you anyway?”

I continued to stare at him, to which he cocked an eyebrow in response.

“W-why?” I stuttered, unable to say anything else. He shrugged and rocked back and forth in his dangerous seat.

“I don’t know…” he trailed off, gazing at the water thoughtfully. “You seem awfully young to be doing this.”

I glared at him incredulously. “You don’t know anything, okay? Anyway, how old are you?”

“Me? I’m sixteen,” he shrugged.

I frowned. He was just a year younger than me. He studied me curiously before suddenly leaping forward. A scream battled along my throat, but before it could fight its way out of my mouth, the boy caught himself on the railing and lowered himself to stand beside me, granting me with a cheeky smile.

I exhaled sharply, staring at him with wide, disbelieving eyes.

“I’m Noah.” He offered me a hand to shake.

I frowned at his hand before returning my attention to his gaze. I was standing on a ledge, over a deadly bay of water, and this guy was trying to introduce himself? He was quite possibly the strangest person I’d ever met, but for some reason, his presence soothed the pressure building in my chest.

“Okay,” he said smoothly, retracting his hand. “So what’s your story?”

I sent him a sideways glare before gazing out at the fog. He was a lanky boy wearing slightly baggy clothes that hung off of his frame. I noticed for the first time that he wasn’t wearing shoes – only socks covered his feet. I also noticed, as his short sleeves billowed in the wind, the criss-crossed scars that decorated his pale arms, dancing from his wrists up his forearm, stopping just below his elbow. I knew that if I stepped off of this bridge right now and he tried to stop me, I’d most likely just pull him into the water with me.

“Fine, don’t tell me,” he continued cheerfully. “I’ll just make up a story in my mind. Do you care if I give you some incurable disease?”

I sighed and squeezed my eyes shut tightly. I tried concentrating on what had brought me here – the abuse, the bullying, the broken home. It was all too much to deal with for someone my age and here I was as a result.

“So what’s your name?” he said in my ear. I jolted away from him, and he gave me that cheeky grin again as I glared at him.

“Nora,” I gritted out. He nodded slowly, his eyes cast firmly on my face.

“I like your hair, Nora,” he said slyly. “Red, it’s a lovely color.” He began scooting along the ledge, kicking his leg out playfully every now and then. I watched him anxiously, looking for any sign that he would jump before me.

“You’ll fall if you keep doing that,” I huffed when he leaned forward and gazed over the edge of the pipe we were standing on.

“Have you ever heard of the Halfway-To-Hell-Club?” he asked casually, ignoring my statement entirely. I furrowed my eyebrows at his question before slowly shaking my head. He smirked at me before explaining, “When they were building the bridge, there was a safety net strung under it. The men who fell from the bridge and landed in the net were called the Halfway-To-Hell-Club because if it weren’t for the net, they would’ve plunged to their deaths.” He arched his back and gazed up at the sky. “Surprisingly, only eleven people were killed in the making of this bridge.” He looked at me and smiled eerily. “They fell and died in the water – killed on impact.”

“What happened to the net?” I demanded, frowning.

“It failed,” he sighed longingly. I gave him a strange look and he tilted his head to the side, studying me. “You know, the impact doesn’t always kill you,” he said solemnly. “If you land wrong, you’ll get dragged under and die slowly, painfully.”

I narrowed my eyes at him. “If you’re trying to keep me from jumping, it’s hopeless.”

He chuckled and pushed his too-long hair out of his eyes. “I’m not trying to keep you from anything. I just thought you might want to know the facts.”

I stared at him and he stared back, a half-amused look in his muddy brown eyes. He suddenly began swaying back and forth, realeasing his grip on one of the poles and kicking his leg out into the open air.

“You’ll fall,” I repeated through clenched teeth, keeping a close eye on the grip he had on the bridge.

Noah turned to me with a crooked smile, cocking his head to the side playfully. “Isn’t that the point?”

“For me, not you!” I shrieked at him. His head fell back and he laughed before swinging around so that he was facing the bridge instead of pressing his back against it. He climbed onto the railing and for a brief moment, I thought he was leaving me by myself, but my heart lurched in my chest when he hooked first one leg and then another over the rail and hung upside down from it.

I stared at him in shock and disbelief. How was he doing that and not falling? The wind was steady and brisk and it took all of my effort not to be swayed by it. But Noah? He had no grip on the bridge whatsoever.

“Don’t worry, I can’t die,” he hummed easily, his hair falling away from his face as he hung upside down.

“What do you mean – you can’t die?” I snapped irritably. “Everyone dies; get down from there!”

He laughed again and said, “Try to touch me. Go ahead – do it!”

I glared at him, tightening my grip on the steel bars behind me. The sun was beginning to peek over the horizon, but it was still impossibly dark. It wasn’t any warmer where I was standing. There was no way I was releasing my hold on this bridge, not until I was ready.

Noah rolled his eyes and gave me an unimpressed look. “You won’t fall. If I can do this, you can reach out and touch me.”

“You can’t die,” I retorted sarcastically. He smirked before tilting his head in my direction.

“I dare you,” he said in a sing-song voice that grated against my nerves. I clenched my jaw before slowly letting go of the bars and tentatively reaching out towards him. He pressed his head against my hand, but what I felt was not a solid skull surrounded by flesh. It was like sticking your fingers in a glass of cold water. Liquid flowed over my skin and I gasped as I stuck my pointer finger in the area between his eyes. He grinned toothily.

“I must be hallucinating,” I panted, retracting my hand jerkily and grabbing onto the bridge again. “I haven’t eaten in a while and it’s cold out here. It’s obviously messing with my head.”

“Nope,” he said, playfully popping his lips on the p. “This is reality, Nora. I’ll vouch for it.”

“You’re not real,” I hissed, turning to glare at him sharply. “You can’t vouch for anything.”

Noah cocked an eyebrow before twisting his body down so that his feet touched the ledge and he was standing upright again. “Not everything that’s real can be touched or explained. Don’t you know that, Nora?”

“So…what?” I demanded. “You’re a ghost?”

“Nope,” he repeated, standing on the ledge without holding onto the bridge. “Haven’t you ever heard of angels?”

“Angels aren’t real,” I growled, but it felt like I was trying to convince myself more than I was trying to convince him. He smiled.

“Then what am I?”

“A figment of my imagination!” I insisted, looking away from him.

“You’re not that creative,” he scoffed before rolling onto his toes and walking sideways back and forth between me and some unmarked distance.

“What do you want from me?” I finally asked him.

“Oh, nothing,” he said in that annoying sing-song voice of his. “Just here for the company. You’re pretty amusing.”

I gave him a sour look. “Yes, a girl who’s about to commit suicide – so amusing!”

Noah shrugged and turned to face me, standing with one foot on the ledge and one dangling in midair. “I don’t think you’re going to do it.”

“Don’t tempt me,” I grumbled. He half-smiled and curled his arm around the bar, watching me curiously.

“So what’s your story?” he asked.

“You’re an angel,” I sneered. “Aren’t you supposed to know everything?”

“Nah, that’s God.” Noah waved his hand dismissively.

I sighed heavily. “I’d rather not talk about it.”

“Okay, then I’m going to keep thinking you have an incurable disease,” Noah said easily, smiling. He leaned a hip against the bridge side and frowned slightly. “I still don’t think you’re going to do it.”

“What would you know about suicide anyway?” I snapped, turning to scowl at him. “You’re an angel. You live in heaven – paradise!”

“Easy,” he cut in before I could continue into a full-blown rant. His eyes swept over the water before a slow, sad smile lifted his pale lips. “This is where I killed myself.”

A cold feeling took over my chest and I stared at him in shock.

“What?” I huffed breathlessly.

Noah gave me an easy, unaffected look. “Everybody up there,” he paused to point at the lightening sky, “has a story. This,” he pasued again to gesture to the bridge and then the water, “is mine.”

“Why?” I whispered.

Noah sighed as he pushed his hair out of his eyes. He seemed a little more serious than he was a moment ago, his eyes a little less focused as he recalled a memory. Gnawing on his bottom lip, he slowly returned his attention to me and shrugged helplessly. “Clinical depression, bulimia, OCD, and severe bullying all led me to this bridge.” He paused before frowning. “No one was there…for me. So I come back here and try to talk people off the ledge whenever I can.”

“Have you ever lost anyone?” I asked softly.

“Bunches,” he admitted. “Turns out talking to an angel who committed suicide isn’t exactly discouraging to most of the jumpers. I’ve learned to pick and choose the people I talk to.”

“Why?” I demanded. “Why wouldn’t you try with everyone?”

Noah’s eyes were sad. “Angels feel pain, too, Nora. And sometimes it’s too much. As if war and poverty aren’t enough, I’ve been forced to stand here and watch as teenager after teenager lunges off the bridge. They all had amazing lives ahead them! And one jump ruined it all.” He inhaled sharply. “I can only talk to teenagers. Jude takes care of all the adults and the teenagers that I don’t want.”

“Jude?” I repeated uncomprehendingly.

“Saint Jude,” he explained, meeting my gaze quickly. “Patron saint of lost causes.”

“Oh.”

We both sighed at the same time and I felt the cold, almost pressure that was his hand slide over my palm. I watched his face as he watched the water and we stood like that for a long time. Finally, I gathered up the courage to ask, “How was it?”

Noah blinked before turning to look at me. He grimaced, flinching slightly as he peered at the water. “Most people die on impact, but me? I was one of the lucky ones.” He laughed ironically, anger and regret etched into the planes of his face. “Remember when I told you that some people land wrong and die slowly and painfully? I was one of them.”

“So you drowned?” I asked.

“I drowned,” he confirmed.

We were quiet again, but this time, Noah gazed at me as I gazed at the sky. There were colors now – the sky was lit up with pink, red, and orage as the sun slowly edged over the horizon. A new day was beginning.

“Did you know,” Noah murmured conversationally, looking down at the water again, “that this is the most popular bridge for suicide jumping in the world? Over 1,200 suicides have happened here, on this famous bridge.”

I looked over at Noah, who scoffed and shook his head before reciting sarcastically, “High overhead its lights shall gleam, far, far below life's restless stream, unceasingly shall flow; For this was spun its lithe fine form, to fear not war, nor time, nor storm, for fate had meant it so.” He ran his tongue over his teeth in irritation before slowly meeting my eyes.

“What was that?” I asked, confused.

“A poem written about the Golden Gate Bridge,” Noah said, scratching the top of his head. “Do you think that if they knew that so many people would throw their lives away on this bridge, they would have built it anyway?” He tilted his head to the side thoughtfully before nodding. “I think they would have,” he answered his own question. “It’s all about the beauty of things now – humanity died a long time ago.”

“And you’re here to keep me from killing myself?” I asked incredulously. Noah frowned before looking over at me again.

“I am,” he confirmed. “Like I said, I don’t think you’re going to do it.”

“Why’s that?” I demanded.

Noah thought about it for a long moment, screwing his lips to the side in concentration. He hung his head forward, and his hair fell away from his face. “I don’t know. Call it a leap of faith,” he smiled faintly at his terrible pun, “but I trust you not to disappoint me.”

I narrowed my eyes at him. “I would disappoint you?” I demanded.

“You would,” he nodded sharply. “Because I have a feeling that one of the reasons you’re here is because you don’t think you’re good enough.”

I frowned. “So?” I huffed defensively.

“Well,” he paused, mulling it over. “I just don’t understand why you take life so seriously. It’s not like anyone makes it out alive, anyway.”

“Then what’s the point in staying here?” I demanded.

Noah smiled longingly, his eyes distant. “Because there’s so much to experience! Think about it; you haven’t even lived a third of your life yet! Yeah, life sucks right now, but you could grow up to change the world one day. If you take your life now, you’ll never save someone’s life, or cure cancer, or stop a national disaster. There’s so much potential for the future. Maybe it hurts right now, but one day you could wake up and you’d be…” he paused, furrowing his eyebrows before slowly giving me a serene smile. “You’d be happy,” he murmured softly, his eyes a bit lighter than they were before.

I stared at him, torn. The pressure was completely gone from my chest and my heart wasn’t so heavy anymore. The sky was light now, a sign of hope, or maybe even a new beginning.

“Do you really believe that?” I asked him, biting down hard on my bottom lip. Noah granted me his crooked, cheeky grin before shrugging and digging his hands into his pockets.

“I believe it.”

I nodded slowly, curling my hands into even tighter fists around the bars. No way was I letting go now.

“Excuse me, Miss,” said a slow voice above us. Both Noah and I looked up to see a man wearing a patrol officer uniform. He had his arms resting against the rail and he gazed down at me with kind eyes and a worried face. “Don’t be frightened. My name is Kevin Briggs, and I just want to help you.”

I looked at Noah, who winked at me happily. I frowned.

“Why is he only talking to me?” I whispered, tilting my face away from Kevin.

“He can’t see me,” Noah replied easily, a crooked smile gracing his lips. He stepped away from me, curling his hand around the steel bars of the bridge and cocking his head to the side. He studied me for a long moment, something akin to contentment filling his eyes.

“Why can’t he see you?” I demanded quietly.

Noah’s lips tilted up easily as he gazed at me. “He doesn’t want to jump.”

“Miss?” Kevin Briggs called to me, catching my attention once again. I looked up at him and he raised his eyebrows harmlessly. “I know you must be frightened. But I’m here to help.” He offered me a kind look. “Would you come back onto this side of the bridge and we can talk? I’d like to help you.”

My grip tightened on the bars. “Would you really? Help me, I mean.”

His eyes were relieved and his smile was easy. “I can help you, Miss.”

I nodded slowly before returning my gaze to where Noah stood. The boy smiled peacefully and gave me a playful salute before disappearing into thin air. I figured the reason I couldn’t see him anymore was because I no longer wanted to jump either. I frowned slightly before taking a deep breath and looking up at Kevin Briggs, who now had another man there to help him pull me up and over to safety.



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cristelsnow said...
today at 8:30 pm:
omg very nice story and well written
 
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f_logicThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
today at 9:49 am:
This is absolutely heart-warming. I wanted to read more an more. This was an incredible piece. Please continue to write more!
 
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