As far as she was concerned, she went onto the bridge that day because she wanted it to be over. She wanted to just not have to worry about any of that other bullshit again.
Other people would have their thoughts, their conclusions, their opinions and ideas. They would call her selfish. That was okay. She was okay with that. Those people were not her.
The water was calm. Gentle waves that she could barely hear over the occasional car that passed her by while she walked. She wondered what they might have thought of her. She wondered if any of them suspected.
She didn’t see anyone else on the bridge when she actually jumped. She was expecting vertigo. She was expecting the lurch and rush of air—she was counting on it. If you’re gonna go, right?
What she wasn’t expecting was for the whole world to tear open like space was being ripped apart. She wasn’t expecting the dead of night to literally turn into noon-light on the equator.
Suddenly, up was down and down was up, and that much she’d been expecting… but not like this. Now she felt herself actually falling upwards, momentum sending her into the air, then that lurch again… and then she rolled out onto the sand.
Why was there sand? She wasn’t anywhere near a beach. Where was she?
What if it wasn’t the end, like she’d hoped? What if she had to keep goddamn going down this goddamn road that pretended to be life? Couldn’t she goddamn rest already? It was a long time before she picked herself up. It wasn’t the hunger or thirst, it wasn’t even the threat of sunburn, or the desire for answers. Was it? No. She was just bored again. Incongruously.
Absently, she thought about looking for ways to kill herself.
All there was, was sand, though. Could she choke on sand? Was that a thing? She wasn’t sure it would work and even if it did, it wouldn’t be anything like the triumphant cascade through the air that she’d promised herself.
Suddenly, she felt a tap on her shoulder. She spun, ready to clock whoever it was, whoever was responsible. But there was no one there. Just empty space and… she looked down.
A water bottle. It had a hastily-scrawled note on it: “Drink this.”
No shit, Sherlock.
She turned the note over. In parentheses: “(I promise it’s not poison).”
“You know,” she said out loud, “I’d almost prefer it if it was.”
Another tap on her shoulder. Another note. It said: “Then I promise it is. Just drink the damn thing.”
She did feel better after she drank it.
It didn’t take her long to be tired enough to fall asleep. She thought that whoever it was who was sending her notes might have molested her in her sleep. She was used to that. But when she woke up, she realized her wallet was gone. She hadn’t even realized she’d brought it along, but once she noticed it—was this some elaborate mugging? It’s not like she even kept money there…
He’s trying to get to know you, said a voice inside her.
He’s trying to help you forget who you are, said another.
She woke up in the desert, but later that day, she took a step and lurched into a different place. A forest. She was guessing… Appalachia? But it could’ve been New Zealand or the dark side of Oz for all she knew.
It took her several minutes of the cynical version of wonder before it even occurred to her to start looking around again for ways she could kill herself. A forest was a lot more conducive. Sharp, hard rocks. Running water. Tall trees. But by then… I don’t know, she thought. She was too curious.
She wondered what he must’ve put in the water.
“What are you doing to me?” she asked no one in particular.
“What are you trying to accomplish? Is it just about trying to keep me from killing myself? Why me? Why do you care? Who the fuck are you?”
Then one day (she wasn’t sure how long she’d been in the woods) she took a step and realized she was in a park. It was the park just down the street from where she’d lived.
And her dad was there with a black eye and a broken arm. She tried to feel pity for him. She really tried.
He looked up at her. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I’m so sorry, baby.”
No. “Why?” she asked. “Sorry what you did to me, or sorry you got beat up?”
He looked down. Looked away.
“I don’t need your apology,” she finally said, the realization dawning on her. “I don’t need you at all.”
And she walked away without looking back.