Short Story Fiction
The Jumpers
Scott A. Gese

Two separate lives ready to call it quits, until fate intervened.

It was a cool Autumn evening. He felt the sudden chill from a gust of an east wind as he carefully stepped over the rail. Paying close attention to his footing, he inched his way along the bridges steel girder. The half moon cast an eerie shadow over the water below. He stopped and took a deep breath as he contemplated his next move.

The JumpersTanner Boriack/Unsplash

An unexpected voice came out of the darkness. “Don’t try to stop me.”

It startled the young man whose eyes were focused on the river that ran under his feet. He jerked his head up and peered through the dim moonlight. A young woman stood not more than ten feet away from him. Her long blond hair limply dangled in front of her face as she leaned forward as if gauging the distance between her and the water. She looked tall and very frightened.

“Jesus, God. You scared the hell out of me. What are you doing here?”

“I’ve had enough,” she replied. “If you’re here to talk me out of jumping, don’t waste your breath.”

“Ha, that’s almost laughable,” replied the young man. “I have no desire to save your ass, lady. And don’t you try to save mine.”

“Deal,” she answered.

They both stood in silence. peering through the darkness to the water below. Lost within their own thoughts.

He spoke first. “It’s a four hundred and twenty foot drop.”

She replied, with a hint of anger in her voice. “Why the hell do I need to know that… and why do you?”

“Just trivia,” he replied.

More silence.

“Why?” She questioned.

“Why what?”

“Why are you here?”

“It’s like you said, lady. I’ve had enough. This city has a way of beating the life out of a person. I’ve been beaten for far too long. It’s a losing battle for me. It’s time to throw in the towel. I’m giving up… How about you?”

“Not so much the city. Relationships. I’ve had it. I’m cutting my loses.”

“Relationships? How so?” He asked.

“I was getting married… finally.” She pulled her engagement ring from her finger. The diamond momentarily glistened as it caught a ray of moonlight.

“What happened?”

“He changed his mind at the last minute. Said I was too good for him. Ha. That’s laughable.

He told me over the phone. Didn’t even have the guts to tell me to my face.

He actually asked for the ring back.” She let it slip from her fingers and fall to the water below. It quickly disappeared into the night. “Let him swim for it… bastard.”

Another long silence. A slight wind was growing colder by the minute.

He suddenly spoke. “My name is Kelly.”

“Why the hell do I want to know that?” She asked. “Why should I even care who the hell you are?”

“In case I jump first and you decide not to. I just want someone to know who I was.”

“Sounds reasonable, I guess. My name’s Kate… just in case you chicken out.”

“How long have you been standing here?” He asked.

“Don’t know. I’m cold and my legs are getting tired. I’ll have to build up my courage soon. I don’t want to freeze to death before I jump.”

“Ha, do I detect a bit of gallows humor?

“I suppose. I couldn’t help myself.”

“If you can build up the courage to jump, do you think you could build up the courage not to jump?”

“Not jump, why?”

“Just curious.”

“Hadn’t really thought about that,” she replied. “How about you?”

“To be honest, I’m starting to have second thoughts about this jumping thing, but I’m not leaving as long as you’re still here.”

She took a moment to think about his comment. “What do you mean by that? Do you want me to jump?”

“No, not at all. I want you not to jump.”

“No, why do You even care?” She asked.

“Not sure, but I guess I do. I was hoping you’d like to get a cup of coffee?”

“Coffee? Are you serious?” There was an odd silence as the question played with her mind.

She was not expecting her own reply. “ I… I think I might like that.”

They worked their way off the girder and walked off the bridge together.

© Copyright 2023 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

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