A west wind, harsh and strong as they came, blew against Nicholas' face. Drops of moisture from the river below, sprinkled his face and drenched his white shirt and loose jeans. Chills ran down his pale skin, giving life to a horde of goosebumps that dotted his arms like aphids on a green leaf. His brown loafers, torn and ripped from years of use, teetered on the railing of the bridge. For a second the shoes defied gravity and he held his breath seconds before they toppled over the edge and into the river.
Blue eyes fierce and mouth locked in a scowl, he kicked his bare foot against the railing. Pain bit down where his foot struck the metal rail but he didn't care. How could he?
He was about to share the same fate as the loafers! "God I can't do it! I just don't want to anymore!" Pacing on the edge of the bridge, which spread over the river, he bided his time. Thinking over what he was about to do, Nicholas came up with every excuse not to leap over the edge and into the jaws of the river.
"If you truly believed," Caiphus said between sips of his tea, "you would jump. To hell with the doubts, fear and pain. If you had faith in me and love for my daughter, nothing could possibly stop you. You would be in the river now, drinking in the joys of love and then be in the arms of my daughter."
Nicholas shook the memory of his last conversation with Caiphus from his mind. The old man was insane! Crazy, perhaps mad enough to be locked up and thrown in the deepest of cells. Why had his lover's father done such a thing? His heart could not take anymore torture!
Cars drove past him, their headlights providing the only illumination on the dark night. Hidden behind a veil of clouds, the moon refused to shine in the twilight. There was no comfort to be found on the bridge, except for the picture of Jessica which he held in his hand. Staring at the old photograph, his heart was overrun by a ferocious desire to be with her. "Damn you old man! How could you do this to me!?" He cried out in rage, his face contorted by his conflicting emotions.
If he jumped off the bridge then he would have Jessica.
If he refused then the old man would take her away.
If he jumped he would die.
If he refused he would die anyways: not being with Jessica would be like poison in his veins.
"I am only doing this to test your love! To see if you have the makings of a man! No fearful coward will marry my daughter!" Caiphus had emphaised when he last spoke with Nicholas.
Either the man was stark raving mad or he wished to see him dead. "You are going to be the death of me, old fool." Nicholas gathered the last threads of his courage and took in a gulp of air. Grabbing hold of the railing, he climbed on the thin platform and got to his feet. Whipping his hair, the wind added to his fear with cold gusts.
In the dark all he could see below him was a river of ink. There was scarce a light to shine on the surface and reveal what he was jumping into. For all he knew the river could have been drained and refilled with gravy. A ridiculous thought however he was not in his right mind at the moment. "Jessica," Nicholas chewed nervously on his fingernails, "you're worth it."
Then he jumped.
And fell in love.