“Darkness is starting to envelope Jessica and blinding her from visible lights. Leo is reaching out his hand to her, but will she make it in time to grab the hand that could probably save her? Find out.”
Continued From: PART 1
Leo quickly followed Jessica from behind as soon as she started walking away from the bench. But Jessica only needed to stop and shake her head to Leo to make him understand that tonight, she needed to make her way home alone. Hesitantly he made his way back to the bench, still watching her from afar until he could not see her anymore, vanished in the damp evening.
Jessica went back to work the next day at the kiosk. She no longer had the funny images of herself jumping off her window. At least not today. But the images of the lighthouse from her childhood remained. She remembered the laughter. The climb. They had climbed up the hill to where the lighthouse was. A few of them, kids her age. She couldn’t remember their names, but she remembered the view of the open sea from the lighthouse. She remembered seeing the gulls from far away, so many, so pretty. But she also remembered that one wish she had.
Leo came to see Jessica at the kiosk where she worked at 5:56pm, just in time before she left. “I’m done for today!” she said to Leo with a bright smile on her face, waving to Helen back at the kiosk who was just settling in for her shift. “How was everything today?” he asked, relief to see her in renewed spirit. “Good,” she nodded a few times, reassuring. They took a train and ate dinner together afterward. She let him walk her to her door this time. She even let him kiss her before they parted. “Take care,” he said to her before he left. He seemed happy, but the look on his face reminded her of his sorrowful smile. The ones she sometimes caught on his face. As she was closing the door, she was reminded of a day from her childhood. The sunlight was golden behind the rain shower, and she was dancing in it. It was the day her father died.
About a week later, Jessica received a call carrying similar news. A distant relative she had not seen for a long time died of heart complication. The news didn’t surprise her, he had been struggling with heart disease for a long time. But it wouldn’t have knocked her down the way it did if the news came at a different time. It was not the person, it was the death itself. She didn’t attend the funeral. She didn’t think much of it at first. But came another week she found herself still consciously thinking about the death. It came to her like a plague. Sometimes one of those nights she found herself lying in the dark still thinking about it. By the end of that week, all she thought about was only one thing; the Bernard Bridge.
And so the Bernard Bridge was where she was heading when Monday came. After leaving the kiosk where she worked at sundown, she secretly made a plan to go to the Bernard Bridge. Instead of buying a train ticket home, she bought one to the closest station to the Bernard Bridge. She held the ticket tightly in her hand as she waited nervously for the train to come. She was shaking. She was still shaking when the train finally came. Its doors swung open and she froze as people were flocking around her to get into the train. She finally left the platform and took a train home. It was not until she was walking on the very street that led to her apartment that she started crying. Her vision became blurry as her pace became slower. ‘Ma’am, are you okay?’ she heard a voice of a concerned passer-by. She was not okay, was what she wanted to say. But instead her pace turned into a jog, and she was burying her head in her hands sobbing when she felt a hand grabbing her by her shoulder. “Jessie?” a voice said.
It was Leo. They sat quietly, later on, at a bench near the lake not very far from Jessica’s apartment, the one they had visited some few weeks before. It was already dark by then. “I’m sorry about the death,” Leo said when she told him about it. “It’s not the death, Leo,” she said through her cracked voice. “It’s not the death,” she repeated, but more silently this time, more to herself. Jessica had allowed herself to think about her father’s death since they arrived at the lake. To think about the glistening rain in the sunshine the day it happened. She knew it was not the deaths. It was her.
“I went to your apartment earlier,” Leo said. “I thought you would’ve been back,” he added. By now she wasn’t listening anymore. She thought of her plan to the Bernard Bridge earlier on. She didn’t tell him about it. The only thing that she heard was when he said, “Have you been taking your medication?”. At that she gave a waned smile.
She said, “That’s not the only way I could feel happy, Leo”. He locked his eyes on her, trying to find a sign that could show if she was hurt. He wasn’t sure if he had hurt her feelings. He was thinking of apologizing when she suddenly stood up from the bench. “Come with me to the Bernard Bridge tomorrow,” she said, not looking at him. Her voice was firm now. I’m coming, she said silently.
* * * *
Leo was still calling out to Jessica when she left the lake. He had come to see if she came to work the next day. She didn’t. He left the store he worked at twice, just to check if she came later. She still didn’t, and he started to get worried. After his shift was over, he took a train to the Bernard Bridge. He remembered what she said last before she left the night before. It kept echoing in his head as he stepped into the train and the door swung shut behind him.
It was a few minutes past 6pm when Leo started walking down the pedestrian lane of the Bernard Bridge. There was almost no other pedestrians he could see. For a few moments he was awed by the view he saw from the bridge. It was 170 feet above the water. The wind was fairly strong, but it surprisingly made him forget about everything else for a moment. It was so calming, he thought. So welcoming, so haunting. The sound of traffic from the main lanes seemed to dissolve and became unnoticeable. He thought he understood why Jessica wanted to come here.
Leo had walked almost half of the bridge when he saw someone curled up in a ball at the side of the pedestrian lane not very far ahead. His heart jumped. He sped up his pace, eager to find out whether or not it was Jessica. The hair seemed to be ruffled, he saw, probably because of the wind, but everything else of this person was still, like a lifeless rock. For a moment, he knew it was Jessica. It must be her.
“Jessie?” he bended on his knees and touched the person gently on the shoulders. The person had her face buried in her arms. But by now Leo was already sure it was Jessica. There was no movement. His heart began to jump again. But from that buried face, came a weak voice, “You’re late.”
TO BE CONTINUED…
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