On The Edge of A Bridge

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
The story of a young person and an old man whom meet on the bridge, both of them planing to die by suicide. The story takes a light-hearted approach with a touch of absurdity to a dark topic as both people whom thought they had no options left, wind up validating each other in their struggles. No one dies!
(suicide tw)

Submitted: May 24, 2017

A A A | A A A

Submitted: May 24, 2017



The water seemed a lot darker now, churning and rushing so far below. Maybe it was the streetlights above, but it seemed a bit farther than they imagined. A slight breeze brushed across Kaden’s face. They had no idea what they were doing here, and the seldom-passing car didn’t seem to mind. Desperation? Hopelessness? Panic? All of these things swirled around in their head and pounded with every beat of their heart—why were they breathing so heavy? I just need to think—I need time to think… I came here to think? Time to think—that’s kept me up till two in the morning and brought me here….

Deep breath—in through the nose, out through the mouth. One, two, three… Kaden steadied themself, firmly grasping the low stone wall. The past seven months seemed like this one continuous spiral down—no not a spiral, a cave-in. Just to get away from it all… even for a moment… please stop. Kaden squeezed their face, there was no one around but they still didn’t want to cry in public, Kaden hated crying.


“’S quite a night isn’t it?”

Rough and abrupt. The voice shocked Kaden, bad, and they jumped while in the back of their mind there was almost an impulse to take that jump all the way over the bridge and flee like a criminal in the night, or maybe just get it over with already.

“Didn’t mean to scare yah—boy aren’t you jumpy?”

Kaden glanced sideways, “Oh you know, random old men sneaking up on people in the middle of the night—“ Oh, make this more awkward why don’t you?!

“I didn’t mean to scare yah, and is it a crime for just anyone to want a nice walk in the middle of the night? You might be suspect yourself then!” Oh, he’s kinda cranky…. The old man stood nearer now and leaned on the stone railing, facing the street. “Can’t blame a man for not sleeping, these walks do me much better most nights. Now, what are you up to out here, boy? I don’t imagine you’re here for the same reason I am.”

Kaden felt uncomfortable, “Can you not call me ‘boy’?”


“It—I just don’t-- ….I’m not a boy—“

“Well what can I call you then?! Can I call yah ‘kid’?”

Kaden stammers, “Uh, sure….” They feel like they’re sweating and hopes the old man doesn’t notice. Kaden looks at the old man now, he’s wearing a light sleeping robe, pajamas, and old hiking boots. He looks tired, but also hurried somehow.

“So? What’re you out here for, kid?”

“Uh, nothing… can’t sleep….” Kaden was starting to find that they were getting frustrated with this old man but didn’t know why. This wasn’t how this was supposed to happen…. A single car rushes by.

“’Nothing’… hrmph. First time I see you out here. I’d almost say y’er taking up my walking space on this bridge.” The old man turns around, facing the river, “Okay, so what brings you here?”


The old man throws up his hand, “Here! This bridge! This river! It’s like two in the goddamn morning, what’s a kid like you doing here?”


Kaden got angry, but then it left as suddenly as it came, they felt like crying again. They turned and sank to the ground, their back resting on the concrete post. The sidewalk is steadying, cool and firm. The streetlamp above casts a shadow below them. “I don’t know.” Kaden says with some exasperation. Do I sound tired? I hope I don’t… am I tired? I am….

Without looking down, the old man mused, “Hrm. That seems about right I suppose.” Overhead, clouds seemed to be rolling in from the north. “Something’s troubling you kid, and before you say anything it doesn’t take me much to know it. There ain’t many kinds of people that come to bridges like this on nights like this. I’ve had children and I’ve had grandchildren, after everything, there isn’t much that gets by me anymore these days.”

Kaden looks away, “So what are you here for? If there aren’t many kinds of people that come here?”

“Well, whatever I’m here for doesn’t matter anymore, does it? Y’er here now. I hate to say it, but y’er kinda throwing me off my plans…. Y’er in the way of my walking space!”

Kaden could relate. They had no idea who this old man was and hadn’t counted on finding anyone here, but somehow found themself in conversation with a stranger, beneath the lamplight. “What kinds of people come here?” they asked, tentatively.

The old man looked now, seeing Kaden on the ground, he let out a sigh and shuffled his way down to the curb with a groan. “Well, that depends… if y’er walking by the bridge or towards?” They were both quiet for some time now. “Many people walk by bridges, people of all kinds. But, if you’re walking to a bridge, well that tells me that you’re looking for something. Something far off, or something a long time ago, or maybe something different, an escape, to leave something behind-- either in hope for something better, or to leave behind something too much to bear.”

“I think we’re talking about something more than bridges now.” Kaden offered.

“You’re damn right, kid….”

Before Kaden could stop themself, they already felt the words welling up in their throat, “I was walking towards the bridge. I don’t know why, I don’t know what I’m doing here, but I came here just in case—“ Kaden stopped. Their breathing was rapid and shallow.


The old man chuckled quietly.

Kaden was in a near panic now but almost stopped, looking at the old man in shock and was hurt.

The old man looked up into the distance, a grin that looked like a grimace in the shadow of the light. “Funny enough, I’m here for the same thing!”

Kaden, mouth agape, could only think so say, “So, what? We hold hands on the way down now?” They couldn’t help but laugh a little themself now.

“You’re too young for this.” The old man said suddenly.
Kaden felt angry again. “Who are you to say or judge anything I do?! You’re some damn stranger that just shows up and laughs in my face! You can’t sit here and tell me I shouldn’t be here or it doesn’t matter!” Kaden’s vison was getting blurred with their tears now.

The old man turned to them and Kaden recoiled, “You shouldn’t be here, damnit kid! You know what I mean! Ya shouldn’t be here! Ya shouldn’t have to be on this bridge…. No one should have to be here…. I don’t know why you’re here but I’m sorry!” The old man’s eyes were watery. “You’re too young….” The old man looked away again.

Kaden flicked a small pebble into the street. They were quiet for a time. There are a few wet marks on the concrete around Kaden. A few cars drive by the stoplight on the hill in the distance.

“Two months and one day ago my granddaughter killed herself. She was twenty.” The old man broke the silence.
Kaden didn’t know how to reply. The old man was sobbing now.
“We were so close yah know… and when I began to notice something was—amiss—she didn’t let me help her….“ A deep breath, “Almost every other night now, since the funeral, I’ve come to this bridge, and sat here, looking for anything! A sign, or some sort of relief, or anything! And now I find you here, kid! This ain’t right!” His voice cracked.

Kaden was looking at him in awed silence. “Have you talked to anyone about this? The rest of your family?”
“Bah! I could ask the same of you! My family’s long-since drifted apart from me. Besides, after Chrisandra dying, I just couldn’t…. I’m all that’s left.” The old man sighed, “It doesn’t matter anyhow. You on the other hand… you shouldn’t be here.”

Kaden was quiet, measuring their words. Their heart beat steadily away, the breeze coming over the side of the bridge buffeted their clothes slightly. A shaky breath, “I’m sorry for earlier—getting angry at you…. I have. …Talked to people, you know. But it doesn’t matter—not to anyone anyways!” Kaden couldn’t find themself able to stop now, everything seemed to pour out in a rush, desperate to get every word out at this chance that they were afraid they would never have again. “Everyone just acts like nothing’s wrong all the time and then sometimes I think that if I can just act like that too, maybe I’ll feel it and then nothing would bother me anymore; it’s like the entire world is in on some big secret on how to survive this shit or just not care, I wonder if anyone even knows anything, or maybe it’s all me—it’s just in my head and I’m the odd one out! Am I just something that went wrong? Survival of the fittest right? Maybe I am supposed to die out—take one for the team, everyone will be better off! Hell if no one is taking me seriously now, they won’t when I’m dead right? No harm there! Nothing wrong here, nothing wrong with me, that’s just how this works.”

“Hey,” the old man tried to interrupt.
“No one ever listens to me, they just tell me it doesn’t matter, or to get over it or it will pass, and I have no idea if it will—can you just give me a fucking break?! I don’t care about what might come later, for all I know it gets worse, but what I do know is what I’m feeling now if you can just listen to me—“

Kaden stopped and sucked in some air, their head was in their hand, leaning to the side. Kaden was crying again and they hated that.
The old man scooted back to the stone wall with them. “Don’t be goin’ off on all that now! You’re right… that does sound terrible…. I only hope Chrisandra never felt like that… if she could just come to me, or anyone…! And I’m sorry you have go through this… you’re not wrong for being here.”

The clouds once distant were nearly overhead now. Below, the river could be heard running by.

Kaden was wiping their tears and looked up now. “I’m sorry about your granddaughter…. Pssht, I feel kinda terrible now for telling you all this and you’re here because someone you know killed themself.”

“Oh, don’t start doing that either…. I’m old, I think one thing I learned is that you can never compare your hurt to someone else’s. Y’er young and you ain’t experienced much of the world yet, you ain’t got nothing to compare to. Hell, even I can’t imagine everyone around you making you feel like what y’er going through doesn’t exist…. No one can tell you you don’t feel what you feel.”
The old man put up his arm, offering, Kaden leaned in. There was something comforting in it all; finding out you’re not alone on the bridge and that it doesn’t end here. It began to sprinkle from the clouds far above, the first few splashes were startling, but cool to the skin. For the first time tonight Kaden began to relax.

“I really am sorry about your granddaughter….” Kaden said into the old man’s shoulder.

“I am too…. She was too young… and I suppose I am too… no one should have to do this….”

Kaden pulled away and began to get up.

“Help me up would yah bo—kid, I’m sorry.” the old man asked. His hands were rough to the touch. They were both facing out towards the river now. “You and I both know we’re not doing this tonight… I want you to promise me I won’t ever find you here again, yah understand that, kid?”

“Only if you promise you won’t be here either….” Kaden said. “Try and get some help or something, find a support group….”

“I could tell you the same. I know it can be hard though… especially like you describe it… I say it’s best yah get some new people around you.”


It’s begun to drizzle now.

Kaden looked worried. What if this is all made up—I mean I came here to kill myself and now… I’m talking with an old man who was here for the same thing and we’re just walking away?! “What are we doing, just turning around now?”

“Kid, we came here because we thought there was nowhere else. You being here-- making sure you don’t mess up like I was about to, gave me another option! I want to see you a month from now, I want yah to promise me that. In one month, I want to hear y’er doing better, y’er around better people. I’ll find my own help….”

Kaden thought about this, and the old man was right, they didn’t want this, and now here was an option. Kaden thought of the chance of scenery and people they may find and smiled. “Okay, I think I can do that….”

“Yah damn-well better, kid! I swear…! We’re both too young for this…. Now get outa here, head on home or wherever you’re welcome! I’m heading home. It’s been a long night for both of us, s’ppose I’ll sleep though morning…. One month’s time! I want to see you better—the café on the hill, stay away from this damn bridge….” The old man began walking away now.

“One month… one month at a time….” Kaden walked back to their own car parked down the street, almost soaked through now with the fine rain. The opened the door and sat inside for a while before turning the engine and putting on the heater. The warmth felt steady, pleasant. Kaden felt ready for change, and they needed it too, but they were scared…. One month at a time-- one day at a time…. I promise.

© Copyright 2018 Azkre. All rights reserved.

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