Midnight, On the Bridge

"Midnight, on the bridge. Come alone."

The young man lifted his collar against the wind as he made his way through the dark, blind to the stars that glittered in the sky above, twinkling in the dust. He did not know what compelled him thus, responding to a note sent from an unknown, beckoning him from the warmth of his home into the night. He did not know why he went, promising himself it was nothing.

"I'll just ignore it," He said then.

And yet… as the hour approached, as shadows grew up and around the world. The need to leave seized him. A clarion call from the night dragging him out the door and to the river. And so he grabbed his coat, kissed his sleeping wife on the cheek and left, closing the door quietly behind him.

Come… come…

He came, though he knew not why, and knew not who called him forward in the black. He walked through the streets, ones he'd walked his whole life as surefooted as if it were day. And as he made his way closer, and walked to… the spot… a thought grew in him.

"This is exactly where… no, it couldn't be. No one saw that night… no one." His sole audience, his own mind, remained unconvinced.

Fear sprouted in his gut, gurgling doubts he could not quite grasp

Come to me… Come.

To the bridge he came, haunted by his sins, fearing at last they had come to roost. He stood at a side rail, staring at the hushing river. Dark waters washed under a dark bridge. Troubled like his countenance. Clouded like his mind. Fraught like his past, churning with loathing. Or perhaps he ascribed to the river that which only he felt. He, alone, on the bridge.

Good, you came. Now jump.

Now he heard the voice, he knew it. He heard it once before driving off into the night. Leaving a gaping wound on the street. A prone figure hanging to life by a string. Yet, even as distance grew between him and his crime—one that so far he had escaped punishment or even suspicion for—he heard her call.

COME BACK! COME BACK! OWN WHAT YOU'VE DONE!

But he couldn't, not then. And now-

You must jump. You must pay!

Now he saw the figure, vague in the dark. Draped in the charcoal shades of nightfall, she raised her finger towards him, accusing, as she floated toward him. Her feet dangled over the current. He never saw the face of the life he had taken, but he knew. In her mangled gaze there was hatred, her broken bones trembled. A rag doll come to roost.

"I'm… I'm sorry." He mewled.

"You don't know how I've suffered!" He sobbed.

"Please… please…" He begged, desperate for redemption.

But the hopelessness in his heart only doubled as her cold gaze grew closer, the filmy glare of the dead.

There is no redemption for you. Only the depths. Jump.

"No."

JUMP!

"I-"

I'll be waiting.

Suddenly her eyes closed, she crumpled into herself and collapsed to the river. Disappearing in its murk. He stepped up on the rail, immersed in the memory of the night that, now in retrospect it was clear, was the night his life ended. The months since were mere borrowed time. He closed his eyes and saw cold dead eyes, a figure tossed from this bridge into the waters. His hands trembling on the wheel as he refused to stop and see, refused to take ownership over what he had done. He opened his eyes and saw the waters where he too must succumb. One foot hovered out in the dark.

He hesitated a moment more.

JUMP! The current bellowed.

And so he did.