Short story about a man jumping off a bridge
Cold slabs feel the crotchet impact of his feet. He walks fast and runs through the tasks ahead of him. The future seems to be rushing to present itself and he thinks. He thinks about the hours ahead. So much to do, he busies himself with his work. He fills his time with paper, with mobile phone vibration, hot bodied office floor, coffee. He doesn’t shout, he doesn’t whisper. He walks to his work past cold towers unnoticed. Light blue, the iron struts of a bridge make their way into his sight. Car engine splutters. Short glance and he continues. His empty hours are spent in the dark, in regimented nightclub crowd, obediently swaying to detached bytes of sound, in bed with automatic partners, convinced that they’re satisfied. Cold puddle splashes foot. Runs off glossy leather.
A woman walks into view. “Steve?”. Unrecognised voice enters his ears. He smiles emptily. “Hi. How are you?”. Usual formalities play themselves out. “What are you doing now?”. Still unknown. “Working.”, he replies. She nods. “I’m married these days.”. He doesn’t care. Where does she come from? Dim memories of a song, taste of metallic beer can, awkward brushes, kissing. He shuffles in his shoes. Memory escapes him as he tries to look backward. The conversation runs on and he nods. They arrange to meet up and exchange numbers. He is left with the sound of her feet hitting concrete bridge.
He feels for the first time in twenty years. He feels inarticulate. The cold embrace of melancholy slowly envelops him as slowly it dawns upon him. She was his first. A rush of dread, or agitation, falls through him. He leans against a rail. Fat tonnes of water roll beneath him as his eyes are filled with grey rain of passion. A realisation enters his mind and he feels sick. Not since that first time had he felt love’s itch, or curiosity, or that most human nervousness. And he can’t remember her name. Twenty years empty. Twenty years of space filled with no memory, but a template that could account for one day. Twenty years gone in the space of a day. He grasps at the straws of memory to remember her name. He is an empty man surrounded by the fattened pulse of life that has escaped him. He breathes in and looks over the rail into the distant flow. He has passed this many times, but never noticed it, and it comes to him that there is no resolution, that his youth has left him and he is an empty wrinkled shell. Just five minutes previously he had been in that blissful ignorance that now he found himself missing. He hates his suit. He feels the strong pinch of emotion in the itching of his eyes, in the swelling of his throat, in his unsatisfied belly and his empty grey brain. He leans over the rail. It presses under his ribs and he feels blood pressure behind his eyes. He climbs somewhat awkwardly. He jumps. Her name is still forgotten as he falls, and his mouth curls a little.
© Copyright 2016 John Lee Mitchell. All rights reserved.
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