Zipping up her hoodie as a breeze over the East River picks up. Walking along the wooden pedestrian path of the Brooklyn Bridge with mascara running down her face, Stephanie smudges her face with her sleeve. Her home a twenty-four-minute stroll behind her she marches on. The warm summer air cooled by the water below, It’s chillier than I expected, quieter too. I guess it is 3 something in the morning. I can’t believe I’ve been living a lie for so long. They all knew. Those bitches! My squad. Fuck them all. How could they do this to me? 7 years gone! What did I do to deserve this! I volunteer! I donate to charity! I threw all those basic bitches extravagant birthday parties.
Barely able to see through her tears a loose board launches her to fall forward. Her arms flail. Feeling herself be caught in a forward trust fall she is relieved, surprised, and confused.
“Whoaw there. That was quite a stumble you had. Are you ok?” Morgan says helping Stephanie find her balance. She waiver a bit as she wiped her eyes.
Staggering back half a step, “Thank you,” she said. Clearing her view she notices a woman in a parka, mailbag, with kind eyes. “Thank you again…”
“Morgan,” as she points to herself, “don’t worry about it. They really should fix that bored.”
Staring at Morgan, Where did she come from? I didn’t see anyone the last time I looked up. Weird. “Well, Thank you again, Morgan,” swaying as she attempts to step by, “You have yourself a good night,, or morning,, or whatever it is to you. Have a good one.”
Morgan rotated to face her. As Stephanie passed, the scent of Johnny Walker Blue radiated from her. “Where ya headed?” Morgan asked.
“Me? Oh nowhere. The middle of the bridge. I’m going to kill myself,” She says before realizing it. Wait. Shit! Did I really just tell her that? Oh My Fucking God! I did.
“Interesting. How? Morgan says plainly.
“What do you mean how? I’m going to jump,” Stephanie says as her intelligence had been insulted.
“Well if you jump from this path you’ll land on the road. You might break a leg. And traffic isn’t thick enough to guarantee you’ll get hit by a car.”
Damn it I didn’t think about that. “I’ll walk out over one of the beams, and, and jump in the East River,” she says taking a shaky backward away from Morgan.
“That sounds like a plan,” Morgan says, “Do you mind if I come with you? I’ve been to the edge a couple times. I can show you the ropes.”
What is wrong with her? Can’t she tell I want to be alone? “I’d prefer you didn’t. I’ve got a lot on my mind.”
“Yeah, I’m sure you do. How about I walk with you until you find a spot. I could even be a couple steps behind you. You won’t even know I’m there.”
“Listen, You Fucking Weirdo! I want to be alone.” She screams as tears begin to flow again, “I’m, I, just, let me be alone.” Caught by the breeze she stumbles back and catches herself on the rail.
“I see those Oxies are mixing well with the Johnny. A couple more of those and you wouldn’t have gotten this walk,” Morgan says as she helps Stephanie stabilize herself.
“Fuck you! You don’t understand,” This bitch doesn’t get it. I just want it to end.
Guiding her down the walkway, “Well help me understand. Why are you gonna do it?”
“End it? Your life, why kill yourself?”
Stephanie takes a deep breath, “Because, they need to hurt! As much as they all hurt me. They need to know it was their fault,” she hiccups, “It’s all in the note. They’ll feel like the shitty people they are.”
“Are you sure it all evens out?”
“He already ruined my life! They all did!” she screamed in the void with rage, heartache, and despair. Taking a sharp stuttered breath, “Now, I’m going to ruin his life, and all their lives, because they will know what they did drove me to end my pitiful excuse of an existence.” A tear cascades over her cheeks, “What did I do to deserve such a horrible fucking life?” Her pace slows, “I loved him! I gave him everything. BJ’s twice a week. I even let him put it in my ass. Which to be honest after a while I started to enjoy. But it wasn’t enough. I wasn’t enough…” Stephanie stops, “Why wasn’t I enough?”
“Who said it’s your fault?” Morgan asks placing a hand on her shoulder.
“My mother, my sisters, my sorority, Auntie Lana, everyone! Everyone knows, that if your boyfriend or husband cheats, It IS All your fault,” Stephanie says before collapsing on the hard rocky ground, convulsing in a crying heap.
“We are not what other’s do to us. It is no more your fault that Jared slept with your friends Jasmine and Evelyn, your sorority sisters Kimberli, Libby, and Amber, your sister Tina, and your oldest friend Bethany, than it is your fault that that Chinese Cobra is going to eat that mouse,” says Morgan in a soothing tone.
Stephanie looks up, the cobra strikes, the mouse squeaks in shock and pain. Pushing herself up and away from the scene, “WHAT the fuck,” her shout quickly fading, as to not steal the snake’s attention. “Where are we?”
Squatting beside her, watching, Morgan continues, “Pain and sadness can be overwhelming. You’re not only dealing with a broken heart. Your entire world has been shattered.” The mouse struggles while caught in the mouth of its attacker. “One minute you’re in a loving relationship and the next you’re looking at an email where you were accidentally Cc’d filled with pictures and video of Jared’s side quests with the women you loved and cherished most on this godforsaken planet dating back five years.” No longer moving the mouse dangles lifelessly as the cobra carries it’s dinner away. “Should you have seen through his lies? Maybe. But you had no reason not to trust him.”
With a sense of disconnection, Stephanie says, “They, were my world. I don’t want to live without them. I can’t live without them. I can let them get away with what they have done. I have to kill myself so they understand the pain, sorrow, humiliation, and destruction of self-worth they caused.”
“There are other options. One’s far less final. Do you want to know them?” Morgan says rising to her feet and reaching for Stephanie’s hand.
Wiping the last tears from her puffy eyes, “No. I don’t want to. There are no other options as far as I’m concerned,” she says taking the help up.
“Ok. The choice is yours.” Look out through the trees and down to the river below Morgan adds, “This is Xian Ren Qiao aka Fairy Bridge in Guangxi, China. There is a legend of a woman broken by heartache and betrayal. She dove head first into the rocky waters below. Hitting that stone,” a small wave broke revealing a stone like an inverted cut diamond, “her skull broke into seven pieces. This split allowed her spirit to simultaneously haunt each person who had wronged her. Until they stopped talking about her”
Focused on the rock, “So you’re saying all I have to do is hit my head on that rock, and I can haunt all of them?”
Morgan looks at Stephanie’s determined face, “Yes, but..” Stephanie dives,
Soaring through the air time slows. They are all going to feel so bad that I killed myself. They will live with the fault forever. I’ll haunt them every day for the rest of their lives. I’ll never let them forget about what they made me do. They will know I’m… Wait did she say she was only able to haunt them as long as they talked about her? If they stopped talking about her, they forgot her. If they forgot her she died for nothing. She had only so much control as they gave her. They let her go. Her haunting was over. No! No!! I Don’t want them to be able to forget because I’m gone! No, I want them to have to confront it every time they see me. Oh shit, they won’t see me! Not even after I die here. Her body begins to over rotate. I’m in fuckin China! No one will even know I died here! I want another option! Please! Who am I even pleading with? I made this choice to let them win. Her back hits the water – blackness engulfs her.
Standing on the edge pouring tea from her thermos Morgan watches, “Shallow waters have the best splashes.” She takes a sip and enjoys the flow of the river.
Birds chirp as the sun rises on a waking Manhattan. Sunlight shines through Stephanie’s note taped to her bedroom window. The clock radio switches on and blares, “Good morning New York it’s your girl Lala, it’s a new day for a new you, have you ever thought about trying Nutri…” Stephanie’s soggy wrist slaps the snooze button.