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Now or Never
I look down. Something about the rushing water below scares me, but a part of it is seductive, calling out to me, telling me that I should jump, tempting me with the beauty of death.
It takes all my strength to turn away.
I sit down and lean against the brick wall of the bridge. People pass by without so much as a glance at me, all absorbed in their own lives. People talking on the phone, people walking dogs, people riding bikes, people out with friends. I am no one and nothing to them. The sound of all their chatter is around me, and I feel alone.
I stay there like that, sitting with my knees drawn up to my chest, watching people go by. Suddenly I see someone I know. I turn my face away quickly, hoping he won’t see me. But he does. I can feel the vibrations of his feet on the bridge as he approaches me.
“Oh, hey,” I greet him when it becomes impossible to ignore him.
“What’s up?” he says. “Anything wrong?”
“No, I – I just came out here to think,” I reply.
He nods. “I’ll leave you to your thinking,” he says.
But before he takes more than a couple steps I say, “Wait,” and he turns back around, his eyes prompting me to continue. “If I did something stupid and selfish, that I’d regret later,” I take a deep breath, “would you still consider yourself my friend?”
He takes a step closer. “What kind of thing are you talking about?”
I shrug and look away. “Just in general.”
“Of course I’ll still be your friend,” he answers my original question. “Hey, you’re sure nothing’s wrong?”
“Yeah, I’m, I’m sure,” I tell him.
Accepting my response as true, he begins to walk away. “I guess I’ll see you later.”
“Bye,” I whisper.
Time passes indefinitely. As it gets darker, my phone begins to vibrate more and more. Calls from worried parents, texts from concerned friends. I ignore them all, just sit back and gaze at the pink orange sunset.
Eventually, the buzzing in my pocket gets to be too much. I stand up, take my phone out of my pocket, and drop the thing into the river. With a soft splash it’s gone.
That’s when I know there’s no turning back.
The bridge slowly clears. I stand there, looking at the river. The glow of streetlights glitters off the surface of the water, hiding what’s beneath.
From behind me I hear the sounds of people laughing. I press my hands to the brick surface in sudden anger. How can they be so happy? What right do they have to be happy, when there are people who are so not happy? They pass too slowly, taunting me with their laughter. Finally, they fade out. And I’m left feeling even lonelier than before.
Not long now.
The river seems to be whispering to me.
It’s much better down here, its calming voice assures me.
Come, its gentle voice commands me.
Soon, I promise silently.
I tear my gaze away from the seductively glimmering water, instead looking at the sky. It’s cloudy now. I stare at the clouds for what feels like hours, my eyes begging them to clear, just so I can see the night sky one more time. But of course my prayers are useless. And I can't help feeling that the stars have turned their backs on me.
Now, the river urges me.
It’s now or never.
I climb onto the brick, a wall about three feet high. The water seems so much farther below now. I wonder how many others have stood here like this, about to do what I’m about to do.
It would be so easy to let myself fall. Do I have the courage to turn around, to walk away safely, and face the judging eyes of those who pretend to love me?
No. I don’t.
It’s now or never.
I close my eyes as I leap forward. The wind whistles past my face. And for that split second I feel like I’m flying.
And I wonder if I really did make the right choice.
But it’s too late now.