Short Story
                                    Crossing the Bridge
                                                                 By Rose Titus


 This time Earl swore to himself he was going to do it.  He was finally going to jump, he said to himself.  
But he looked down and the river looked dark and cold and filthy with the city’s pollution.  But he was going
to finally do it.  This was it; he was going to finish it, this time.

 He tried to make the jump last week and looked down into the dark cold water and felt sick and was a
damn coward and walked away.  He tried it again a few days ago and couldn’t do it then, either.

 He held onto the steel of the bridge and moved closer toward the edge.  A few more inches and he’d be
falling, speeding fast into the water where he would drown his misery with life…  he moved closer to the
edge and was finally ready to let go, to lean forward and dive in.

 “Hey, Earl!”

 He turned to look behind him.  There stood a young girl in faded jeans and a simple T-shirt, with mouse
brown hair, and probably no more than nineteen or twenty, “Do I know you?”

 “No.  No, Earl.  You don’t know me,” she said, “But I know you.  And you’re seeing me because you’re so
close to the edge right now.”

 “Who the hell are you?  And why the hell don’t you just leave me alone?  Can’t you see I’m busy trying to
accomplish something here today?”

 “Who the hell am I?  I’m Margie.  But that’s not important.  I just want to talk to you.  I want to talk to you
about what you’re planning to do, Earl.”

 “What business is it of yours, Margie?”

 “Earl, once you cross over that bridge, there is no going back,” she said, sounding very serious and
definite.

 Earl wondered if she was crazier than he was right now, “Look, girl, I am not crossing the bridge, I am
planning to jump off it.  Get it?  Now go away, will yah?”

 “That’s not what I mean.  And of course I know you’re planning to jump.  Because when you die, you cross
over and that will be it.  You’ll regret it, Earl.  You’ll regret the missed chances and opportunities you left
behind.  You’ll regret leaving the people who mattered to you, before you could tell them that you loved
them.  You’ll never be able to come back to say, ‘I love you.’  I know what I’m talking about, Earl.”

 He looked away from her, and once again looked down into the river below.  He thought for a few
minutes, saying nothing, and then, “Yeah.  I dunno.  My life isn’t going too well right now.  Lost my job.  The
repo man stole my car.  Got a foreclosure notice in the mail.  Can’t take much more, Margie, whatever you
say your name is,” he turned to look at her, but then she was gone.  He looked around to see if she was
walking away in disgust, but she was nowhere.  There was no one around.  He was alone.  Completely
alone, “What the hell?”

 But he came down from where he intended to make the jump from, deciding maybe to give life one more
day, or one more chance.  Maybe he would get a new job soon, and maybe he’d manage to hang on to his
house.  He could ride the bus until he could afford another car… maybe…  Maybe it would all work out?  
But he would never know if he did make the jump.

 He started walking, heading for home.  On the way, he stopped at a coffee shop, deciding that coffee and
a donut might clear his head, if only just a little bit.  And that was another problem he had been having:  
With being out of work, he couldn’t afford groceries sometimes.  He knew he had a few bucks in his
pocket, probably his last few bucks, but enough for a coffee and a donut…

 In the coffee shop he sat at a table in the corner, alone, wanting to just be by himself to collect his
miserable thoughts and reflect on his miserable life.  He was just thirty and since he lost his job he was
probably about to lose everything.  He didn’t know if things would get better, but the girl was right.  Once he
did it, there would be no going back.

 On the next table there was a newspaper.  He reached for it.  He almost dropped it when he saw the
black and white photograph on the front page.  It was Margie.

 The headline read, Body Found in River Identified.

 “What?”  And that was all he could say.  The girl’s name was Margery Cavendish, age 19.  She had
drowned, and possibly committed suicide.  The body had been in the river for probably over a week, and
was in poor condition, and therefore hard to identify.  Her parents were interviewed, the mother very
tearful, “She was upset about things, we still don’t know what.  She ran out the door one day, and didn’t
come back.  I wish she could come back, just so we could tell her that we love her.”

 He put the paper down and remembered what the girl had said, “I know what I’m talking about.  Once you
cross over that bridge, there is no going back.”

 He finished his coffee, folded up the paper, and took it with him when he left.
About Rose Titus

Rose Titus works two jobs to support her writing habit.  She exists somewhere in cold, dreary
New England, with two manipulative cats and a very out of date Macintosh with which she
creates horror and fantasy fiction.  She also has a restored classic car to ride around while in
search of adventure.

For travel she has stayed for the night in an allegedly haunted castle, has taken a boat ride on
Loch Ness, and has visited the fabled Bermuda Triangle without getting lost.

Her work has previously appeared in Lost Worlds, Lynx Eye, Bog Gob, Mausoleum, Midnight
Times, Blood Moon Rising Magazine, The Bugle, Weird Terrain, Descend, Wicked Wheels, The
Dead River Review, and other literary magazines.  Her novella Night Home has been published
with Bathory Gate Press and is available with Amazon, Barnes and Noble .com and
Smashwords.

When she’s not writing or working or messing around with her old Buick, she waits by her
mailbox for the next issue of Fortean Times to arrive.
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