A breath of night blew by my me, pushing and pulling strands of hair around and into my face. I closed my eyes and listened to the crickets singing, such happy lives they live. So easy to be a cricket. Unlike being a person. It's hard to be a person. We never get it easily, we suffer to find love, we're tortured to find strength, we're abused to find wealth, there's no easy way to any of it. Even once we have these things we find it isn't right and suffer through it all longer. I inhaled the smell of the water nearly one hundred feet below me, and they freshly cut grass. I felt the cold metal of the bridge beneath my bare feet. It's amazing how much you notice and appreciate when you know you won't be able to for much longer. Whether that fact is your choice or not. I opened my eyes and looked down at the rushing water below me as I stood on the edge of the railing, knowing what I was going to do next. My skirt flew about my knees as the wind pushed my back harder, trying to get me back onto safety and off the danger of the rail, so easily able to stumble off of. I closed my eyes again and inhaled a deep breath, taking in the final smells and sounds. I was bending my knees to jump when I heard a voice behind me. A stranger I didn't know, but a voice I felt I had heard before.
"What are you doing?" the familiar stranger asked me.
"What's it matter to you?" I asked, not turning towards him and not opening my eyes.
"It just seems like you're about to do something you can't take back. Something that will hurt the ones that care about you," he said. Strange he knew what I was about to do.
"Ain't anybody left that cares about me. They're all gone. Only people left are ones that want to hurt me. People that would be happy by this decision." As I spoke a tear fell down my face and down into the water below, where I wish I could be. The hair in my bun slowly escaping and pushing about my face as I opened my eyes and looked to the sweet water. How it called to me. It showed me the way with no more pain. "I wonder if I would die as soon as I hit the water. Is it a far enough fall?" I wondered out loud. If I had to feel pain once I hit the water than so be it. As long as the inner turmoils come to an end.
"Why does it matter?" he asked.
"Cause I'm ready for it to be over."
"I know what you feel. I'm not gonna say it gets better, because that depends on you. But I can say you can make it better."
"What is that supposed to mean?" I snapped. I was tired of mind games. All I wanted was for him to leave. I didn't really care if he watched me jump or not, but he was persistent in speaking, and for some reason I remained to listen to him.
"You can dwell in what is or has happened, or you can move on and be happier. I held on to something for years and it ate away at me. But now that I'm coming to terms with it things are easier. And that was my choice. I could relive it every night and every day, but I don't. That's what keeps everyone from standing where you are now."
"Getting over it isn't exactly an option."
"It can be. If you get down from there and give it another chance." I knew it. He was jsut trying to talk me out of it. "Or I can just get you down."
"Why do you even care? You are someone I don't know, someone who shouldn't care, and here you are! Nobody cares about people they don't have to care about, and you sure as hell don't have to care about me cause I don't even know you and you have no relations to me." Then I whispered. "You're just a stranger."
"I may be a stranger, but I care about you doing something that ends your life. You have an entire life to live, a life of people to meet and things to do you don't even realize now. But all that is out there for you and I'm not gonna stand by and watch you pass it all up with one decision. And I may not have to care about you but that doesn't mean that I don't or that I can't. And there are people who still care about those they don't know or aren't related to."
"Not any that I've met. Even those related to you abandon you sometimes," I softly say as more tears fall to the sweet release below me.
"I know. And it sucks. People you think will always be there can just get up and walk away from you sometimes."
"My parents got up and walked away from me. You don't know what thats like," I say. Closing my eyes and staying turned away from him as more tears fell from my eyes.
"My dad walked away from me when I was 12. I didn't have any friends and I couldn't talk to the only other person in my life, because she was the one that sent him away. My dad the marriage therapist, already married for the third time. I know what it's like," he said.
"I live with my grandmother. My parents didn't care about me. They just left one day." My foot edged slightly closer.
"Please don't make me come get you down from there," he pleaded. I still didn't understand why he cared. There weren't those kind of people left in the world. Ones with good hearts.
"I know what it's like to hide, to sit in your room and break down and cry. And all I could say was your name. I've had my share of pain." I whispered too low to hear for he never said anything. It was good though, he wasn't meant to hear that. It was for myself and myself alone.
"I'm lucky to have made it this far without breaking and coming to this point," I whispered as the wind whipped around my small form.
"What kept you from breaking?" he asked. I sighed. I didn't know why he persisted in understanding and why he cared.
"Music. The fact that I wasn't alone. No one I knew understood. But there was a band that always reached out to me. It kept me going, but nothing can keep me going anymore." Three days ago my parents had called my grandmother and asked if the job was done yet. I found out they had wanted me dumped at an orphanage years ago so they would never have to see me again. It wasn't like I was a bad kid either. I was a great kid. Not into anything bad and I kept good grades so I didn't understand. But that was the breaking point for me. "What was it?" He asked. He sounded curious, not just politely interested like everyone else I know, or not even that courteous and would sound like they were asking because they thought they had to. I hated that. If you didn't care just don't ask. I don't like that he won't leave me alone.
"Lifehouse." I thought of all the night I cried listening to him singing. Watching him play on the internet. If it weren't for Jason's music I would have died at eight instead of now at 18.
"Please get down," he pleaded again.
"Why should I? Why do you want me to? Do you want me to suffer longer?" I cried.
"I want you to be able to live your life once you realize what happened doesn't have to be the end of your world. You can start over after ending. Just because there's nothing comforting in change doesn't mean it has to end. I know you can't seem to find any peace in the confusion. It can be easier than this, just don't throw it all away. You don't realize what you will miss. It's not too much of a chance to take, this decision your about to make is. And I don't want you to suffer longer, I want you to move on and find peace and realize you have a life to live and a reason, even if you haven't found it yet," he paused. I relaxed my fists that had been clenched in preparation for the pain hat was sure to happen when I hit the violent surface of the water. "Are you at least re-thinking your idea?" he asked.
"Hm." Was all I said. I took a deep breath and clenched my fists again. I heard footsteps behind me and I leapt into off the railing. I felt the air rushing by my face. A rock hard surface hit me straight in the center of my chest, knocking the breath out of me. I felt water instantly soaking my clothes.
"I'm not letting you do this," he said. I kept my eyes pinched shut. Why could I still hear him? Why did he still care? The deed was done. Was he really just a good person? Was the deed really done? I felt the freezing rain pricking against my face and bare skin of my arms and shoulders where my tank top didn't cover. I felt the warmth against my chest and realized I hadn't gone into the water. It wasn't a rock that had hit me it was his arm when he caught me after I had attempted to plunge over the edge. He had one arm around my middle and another holding the railing where he had actually jumped over to get me. To save me. To risk his life for me. A stranger. Someone I had no connection to. The tears started falling. Again. I realized there is some good in the world, he is part of it. I cried harder realizing how close I had come to giving up when there was so much left. A stranger. He saved my life. He didn't need to care, but he did. He didn't need to help, but he did. He needed it for himself, because he would truly feel something if he knew he could have stopped me. I cried again, the soba racking my body until I was sure he could feel it even through the numbness the freezing cold rain was bringing. I heard a sound of pain come from the man behind me and realized he probably injured his shoulder when my weight tried to pull him down into the rapid flowing water below us.
"Can you pull me up to level with the railing?" I asked. He sighed in relief.
"I thought... you would try... and get me to drop... you into the water... even after all this." He managed to pant out. I was sure that if I looked at his face I would see it contorted in a grimace of pain. I smiled in spite of that fact. He must have been strong because he pulled me up to where I could feel the rail quite easily with one arm. I grabbed hold with both hands, terrified I would lost grip and fall. I heaved myself up with him helping me by pushing me up by the waist. I got up to where my arms were straight and then slung a leg over and collapsed to the ground shaking from the cold and shock and realizing this near life experience scared me to death. This is where I end, this is where I begin. Thanks to him, whom I still don't know the name of. I continued to shake rapidly until I felt his somehow warm arm snake around my shoulder in an attempt to warm me. "Thank you." I said softly, yet knowing he could hear it.
"I knew you didn't really want to die yet. You just didn't know it then." I could hear the smile in his voice.
"Are you alright?" I asked.
"Should be. Just might have thrown out my should a little bit." Even confessing to his pain I could still hear the smile in his voice, and it made me smile.
"I'm sorry." I whispered.
"I'm just glad your ok." he said.
"It's weird," I started. "I should be concerned you're going to grab me and kidnap me, but I'm not. And it isn't because I'm naive. It's just because I know inside that I can trust you." I say.
"I'm glad about that."
"I just can kind of sense you're a good person. I ignored it when you were trying to explain to me that you knew what I was going through, and what to say I just wouldn't hear it."
"Why are your eyes still closed?" He asked.
"I'm afraid if I open them you'll disappear and I'll realize none of this was ever real and I'll be back to where I started standing on the rail getting ready to jump to the point of no return. I can't do that again. At least if I keep them closed I can wake up and not know what you looked like because it happened and I wouldn't have to wake up from this dream and realize there isn't good left in society and life as we know it everywhere is crumbling." The silent tears had started to fall from my lashes again and down onto my already soaked lap. The rain had subsided so I was able to start the drying process. I wrung out my skirt nervously with my hands waiting for him to say that was a stupid thought.
"I used to close my eyes and relive all the times my dad was still there, and re-form the days to be like he was around. I lived in that dream world, secluded for a long time. Living in a time that wasn't and never would be real. But I'm real, and I'm not gonna disappear if you open up your eyes."
"That's most likely true, but with all the things you've said, if this is a dream, that would be exactly what my mind creates for you to say anyway," I defended.
"If it turns out to be a dream, it's your subconscious telling you there is still a reason to live, so don't forget that when you wake up, but I'm fairly certain this isn't a dream." He retorted. I smiled, I didn't think I was creative enough to think of this, and I was one hundred percent convinced I had nothing to live for this morning. There wasn't even a nagging feeling in the back of my mind saying I shouldn't be doing this when I stood on the railing just minutes ago until he showed up.
"I should probably get home."
"Can I walk you?" he asked. I sighed. He was probably afraid I was going to try and jump off a different bridge. "And it's not to make sure you don't try and jump again. You're different then you were earlier. I just know there are strangers out there that aren't as friendly to young girls as I am." I stood up, his arm falling from my shoulder, keeping my eyes close. Even though his reasoning seemed flawless, as did mine, I was still afraid to let my reason for life slip away into dreamland like so many other things had.
"I guess that's true..." I said, drifting off not knowing what else to say.
"He he," he chuckled. It was a sweet adorable sound. I wondered how old he was, what he looked like, his eye color, all those things I would know if I would just look at him and get over my fear. "What's your name?" he asked me. We always seemed to be somehow on the same page, as if he could read my mind. Maybe he was just that good at reading people.
"Anne-Marie. Most people mix them together and say Manny or Anerie." I was teased a lot. No parent gives their child a hyphenated first name anymore. No one.
"That's a pretty name," he said.
"What about you? What's your name?" I asked.
"I bet you're pretty good looking. Every Jason I have ever seen has been good looking to say the least."
"Meh." He replied. Modest, or just not attractive I wondered. "Would you like some help with a mental image since you are still terrified to open your eyes?" he asked. I could hear the smile in his voice again. This was the only time I had been teased where it didn't hurt me deeply or make me cry.
"That would be nice. I've been trying to figure out what kind of person you are all night not even knowing your name or anything," I confessed.
"You can just ask things that help you identify a person if you would like."
"5 feet nine inches don't make fun of me!" He laughed.
"I won't," and I wouldn't ever. Not after what he's done for me. "Nickname?"
"How does that help you with an image?" he snickered.
"Micro-wade," he confessed softly. I chuckled. The first time in nearly two years I had made a sound even near a laugh. A sound that didn't resemble misery period.
"It varies but I guess you could call it hazel. What color are your eyes?"
"Mud-brown. Do you shave often?"
"Not really but it never gets really long. It looks about like a few days past shave time on most men right now."
"Past when you needed to or past when you last had?" I asked smiling.
"Past last time I had. I wouldn't let it go on that long."
"Uh. Naturally I'm a brunette but now it's highlighted all patchy like with blonde."
"You do it yourself?"
"Semi shortish long all disheveled. Sometimes more than others."
"How is it semi shortish long?"
"It's a short hair cut but it's long for a short hair cut."
"That makes perfect sense," I said sarcastically. I hadn't used sarcasm in months either. I'd become even to bitter for that.
"What about your build?"
"Scrawny. That's what everyone says. And semi shortish. Ain't really much else to say about it."
"Must not be too scrawny cause you didn't drop me."
"Well it's all about timing I think."
"Music. That's all I got." he said.
"You need to stay behind me. I'm opening my eyes to see where I'm going and make sure I head the right way towards home and don't get hit by cars."
"Okkaay." I walked forward a couple of steps and then opened my eyes. Relieved he wasn't in front of me.
"Follow me if you still want to walk me home." I heard footsteps behind me. I walked forward on the way home. "What was your first concert?"
"That's cool. When did you get your first computer?"
"A few months ago. It's kind of shameful."
"Mac or PC?"
"Mac. Who would spend money on a Piece of Crap. That's what PC stands for?" I laughed out loud. It felt so good! I couldn't remember the last time I had honestly laughed. I didn't want to stop! I did though, I didn't want him to think I was some kind of freak.
"What do friend use as a word to describe you?"
"Listener or Sherlock Holmes."
"Cause apparently I can talk to a lot of people and remember everything they said. The other was because I wear vintage clothing. My shirt actually is and it has a large hole in the right elbow area. I don't do vintage underwear though. My friend, who is a dude, goes as far as wearing vintage thongs, it's kinda weird." I found myself laughing again, and it felt so natural after not doing it for so long.
"That is kind of weird. I bet he's fun."
"He is. That's the only way I can spend ten years with him and still call and hang with him on days where I don't have to see him."
"Wow. That's a long time to spend with a person. Do you work together?"
"Yes we do."
"That how you guys met?"
"He actually lived right across a kind of river from me when we were growing up but we never really met then. He jokes that he stalked me and knew I was somebody he should get to know."
"That's not creepy at all."
"No not at all!" he laughed with me. I relished in the sound. It was such a beautiful sound. Maybe his laughter, maybe laughter period to me right now. I looked to the road ahead and realized I was almost home. I sighed. I really didn't want to go back. This was the happiest moment I've had in forever.
"Can I ask you something about what you told me earlier?"
"Yeah I spose."
"What's your story for real?"
"What'd you mean?"
"I wasn't really paying attention, being that I was trying to kill myself when you were saying how you could relate to what I was going through."
"Oh." I heard him take a deep breath in. "My parents got divorced when I was twelve. I saw it all coming, but I was helpless to change it. I didn't have any friends because we lived in a different country and they hated us where we lived. My dad left us a little later on. I kept everything inside and I was miserable. I cried so much then. I would sit in a corner every night and break down and cry, trying to be quiet, but still would whisper my dads name. All the pain I was going through. I pointed the cause of it at myself. I didn't have anywhere for the anger or sadness to go. Then I found music and it's what saved me. I found somewhere for all that pent up emotion to go, but I still wasn't getting over it. I'm just now really getting to where I can deal with it."
"I shouldn't have asked. That was personal and I really shouldn't have asked."
"You told me your story. It's only fair. Plus we loners have to stick together a little bit." He touched my hand and gave it a gentle squeeze.
"Thank you for saving me."
"I wouldn't live with it if you had gone through with that and I had not tried to stop you. I probably couldn't even if I had tried and you still went through with it." I knew it. A good person to his core. Even after all the unfair crap life threw at him. I stopped in front of my driveway.
"This is my house." It was a small house. One of those one story plastic ones you always see old people in.
"Does that mean this is goodbye?"
"I guess so."
"Well I'm glad we could, in a way, find forgiveness for each other, even if this is goodbye."
"I guess so. I guess the dream is over now."
"Yeah. Is what we've had really over tonight?"
"You obviously aren't from around here, and I have nowhere to go but here so I guess so."
"At least I know we can both recover."
"I think I can now. Thanks to you."
"You did just as much as I did."
"You believed in what I told you. It takes less to say the truth than it does to believe the truth."
"You know, maybe we can still talk. You could give me your number and we can txt."
"I guess that would be better than nothing." I smiled. I reached into my pocket and grabbed a piece of paper and ripped it in two. I wrote my name and number on the first piece and handed him the second and my pen. "In case you lose mine somehow, if you're wondering."
"Good thinking." He took my sheet that I blindly handed to him. He wrote his number, I assumed, and handed me the sheet folded in half. "Close your eyes." he said. I did. I heard him walk around so that he was in front of me. He wrapped me up in his arms in a warm hug, the same arms that had saved my life. I wrapped mine around his neck and held tight to my meaning in life. The only tie that held me to the earth. The only thing that kept me on this earth. He released me and I pulled back to the extent he let me.
"I'm really glad I met you Jason." I say. "No matter what else happens I'm glad you saved me from the waters tonight."
"I am too." I could hear the smiling again. "It's not every day you save somebody's life. I'm glad I could save yours. Goodbye Anne-Marie. For now." Instead of just a smile I could tell he was grinning ear to ear right now. It kept me smiling too.
"Goodbye Jason. You know where I live now too." I turned and walked to the back porch where I would enter the house. I entered the house there because that's where we kept the spare key when it was locked, not that it really ever was locked. I pushed the handle and it fell open. Not locked. Never really is. It was late, so my grandparents were asleep. I crept down the hallway to my room, careful not to wake them. They would be more mad that I woke them than they would be at the hour I'm coming in at. I flipped on my light and fell to my bed feeling the weight of today's events falling upon me and instantly becoming exhausted mentally and physically. I laid my head down on my pillow and the next thing I knew, the sunshine was streaming through my window onto my face. I looked down and saw that I was wearing my flannel PJ's and my hair was down, retainer in my mouth. I pulled the covers over my head and cried. I hadn't changed before I went to bed, so it meant that everything I thought happened last night was just a dream.
After I had run my tear ducts dry with tears I opened my closet and grabbed the jacket I had been wearing in my dream as well as a pair of jeans. I threw on the jeans and jacket and walked out the front door. The cold whipped my hair around my face and the wet grass numbed my flip flop clad feet instantaneously. I walked down and stood by the rail of the bridge I had nearly jumped off of in my dream. I looked down at the waters that had nearly ended my life. I turned around and went home. I reached into my pocket for my key when I realized the back door was locked unlike most times. I felt for my key, and found it, along with a bit of paper. I opened the folded sheet and looked at what it held.
It was a series of numbers, ten digits. Three, then three, then four. Along with a message.
It wasn't a dream Anne-marie, shoot me a txt. -Jay
I blinked in surprise, staring dumfounded at the note. It was real. Everything that happened was real. I ran inside and went into my room and was so excited I screamed. I sat down on my bed and re-read and re-read and re-read the note. Then my phone buzzed on my counter.
How r u holdin up?
It was sent from an unknown sender. I checked the number and realized it must have been Jason.
Better thn ysterday.
Well I guess it's good.
It definitely is.
Can I ask you a question?
What's your middle name?
Why would you wanna know that?
It's Liliana. What's yours?
Michael. Last name?
Everything snapped in a blur for me then. His physical description, some of the phrasing he used, his voice, unknown to me personally yet familiar, I knew him! Not personally. Heck he was quoting his own writing! Holy crow! Jason Wade saved my life! Jason Wade had cared about me! Jason Wade had kissed my cheek and hugged me! Jason Wade texted me! Jason Wade is texting me!
You still haven't gotten that? =)
Well it kind of clicked fifteen seconds ago.
So what is it?
Nope it's Riley! Why'd you think Wade?
I dunno. Sounded right?
I'm jkin you. Yes it's Wade. Jason Michael Wade. Does that change things between us?
No. You're still the man who saved my life. The one who believed in me when even I didn't.
So we could see eachother again?
Then the doorbell rang. I sighed. I didn't want to get it. I walked to the door and opened it looking at the floor. I didn't make eye contact with people my grandparents knew. They scared me. I met with a pair of black all stars and blue jeans covering the legs of the one standing before me. I made my way up and saw a faded blue jean type patterned shirt rolled up the elbows with sunglasses tucked into the top. I finally looked at his face, and saw the disheveled blondish brown hair and hazel eyes.
"Jason? What are you doing here?"
"Had a few days off. Thought I'd drop by." He smiled, and it was the most beautiful thing I'd seen.
"Wow." I smiled too. He pulled me into his arms and hugged me. I hugged him back and smiled. Then I noticed the gig bag on his back. "What's that?"
"Can I come in?"
"Yeah." I opened the door and he sat down on my couch. I stood and watched his open his gig bag and pull out his acoustic guitar.
"What's your favorite song?" he asked.
"That's too hard of a question."
"Okay then one of them." he smiled.
"Midnight in Philadelphia."
"The one you sang part of on the bridge." He started playing and I sat down across from him.
I know what it's like to hide
To sit in your room and break down and cry
He played all of my favorite songs for me in my living room that day. We kept on texting and stayed friends, and when he was in the area he would stop by and we would talk and he would play. He saved my life. He's my savior. He's not my true love, but I do love him more than anyone else.