Couldn't Walk Away

by Chesarei Sinclair

The cold night enveloped his body in its frozen embrace. His breath escaped his lungs in a visible vapor. The boy shivered and rubbed his hands together, attempting to warm his palms. While wisps had formed and just barely covered the solitarily moon. Below him was a river, dark and about to freeze in the frigid temperatures. Above the waters was an aging bridge from the highway. The boy gazed out from this bridge into the misty abyss of the night.

In his hand was an envelope, wet and still not sealed. He wondered where to leave it at. The railroad across from the highway seemed to be a good place, but wouldn't the wind blow it away? He could leave it on the bend of the road, underneath some rocks, but still it could be thought of as litter. Or he could leave it in his blue Pontiac Grand Prix, which was parked the other direction . Why did it matter though? Do you have to leave a note behind?

He doubted that anyone would read it. Maybe the police would, but no one else would care. She'd probably be too wasted to read it anyway. She never seemed to care about anything anymore. If she could spend all day, sitting in her porch chair drinking and smoking, she would. His mind drifted as the boy remembered what bought him to this decision. Things had been bad before but not as bad as they were not. Even when the old man got up and left when he was five, that still was a good situation. His mother had told him that it'd be alright. They still had grandma and grandpa.

But, it seemed that she believed that the dead beat would come back some day. She used to pick up his picture and talk about how the boy looked like the old man. Although as much as he hated it, he did look like the him a lot. He had gained his father's blue eyes, sandy hair, and strong build. His mother had given him her pale skin, roman nose, and thin lips. His looks had always made him look younger than he actually was, so finally he grew a beard to help him look older. His mother would say "He would never recognize you when he comes back. You'll look older than him now." He's not coming back, Mom. He hasn't sent us a single letter since he left. But, it had made no difference to her. She still looked at the picture every day and drank to the thought of him coming back.

But, the boy didn't exist in her mind anymore. When he went into middle school, she stopped working and told him he had to get a job to support them. They moved in with his grandparents for awhile and he went to school during the day and then worked until late at night at a local gas station. But, eventually they were told to move so they went to the other side of town, sharing a one bedroom duplex with another family. He would sleep on the couch while she spent days and nights in her bedroom. The duplex was old with cracking white paint and water damaged floors and cupboards, but still it was better than the streets.

Surprisingly, he was able to save up enough to get a cheap vehicle from a friend. But, he never had much for anything else. His mother would take what was left and go to the liquor store to get booze and then the gas station for cigarettes. Then, she would sit on the porch whether it was sunny and rainy, smoking and drinking herself silly. When the boy got home from work, he'd pick up her small body and bring her to her bed. It was the same routine every day up until he was a sophomore in high school. Then Tad came along. Tad Swanson was smooth and knew just how to get what he wanted. The tall, dark and handsome kind most women fall for him immediately. For awhile, his mom seemed happy and seemed to forget about the old man. She even stopped boozing and smoking. But, instead it began another dark path. Tad believed his luck was unending so his passion was to gamble.

Every night after he got off work at the car dealership, he'd go the casino ten miles south and bet his earning from the day. Usually he did well and came home with everyone else's winnings. But, when he had started losing is when he appeared at the duplex. "Sherry Anne," he would say " Baby, I need my good luck charm with me. Come to the casino with me, darling." And of course, under Tad's spell, his mother would follow him and bring any spare money with her. The two would gamble late into the night. For awhile, they would win and there wasn't any problems. Tad even bought his mother jewelry, flowers, and anything else she wanted. She moved in with him and left the boy at the duplex. His grandparents didn't approve of gambling but decided it was not harming anything since their daughter was taken care of. "Why rock the boat?" they said to the boat. But, they didn't seem the inevitable end to Tad's luck that was about to arrive.

About a month ago, when the boy became a senior, everything fell apart. Due to a mistake, it was found out why Tad won every time Sherry Anne came with. Sherry Anne was helping him cheat. He had taught her how to fix the decks, see everyone's buffs, and tells, and she would slip him cards now and then as well. When the other players found out, Tad quickly left down. So his mother was left with Tad's debt which became the boy's debt. He attended school only three days a week and worked the other days, trying to repay back what his mother's and Tad's scheme had robbed so many of. And his mother went back to her porch chair, smoking and drinking away her reality.

The memories of the past faded as the bitter wind swept through his body and reminded him where he was. The stars were starting to shine in the sky now as the sky had cleared. It was a beautiful night indeed. It almost made him feel better about what he had planned. He stuck the letter in his pocket and decided that it was a better place than any for it. Taking a deep breath, he climbed up on the railing on the bridge. Slowly, he felt his feet step up on the railing although it felt as they were made out of lead. He raised his body and stepped onto the other side of the railing, since there was a little ledge about 6 inches wide. He held on to the railing with his hands and move his feet ever so slightly. Pieces of dirt fell from where he was and dropped into the canal below. His heart was beating loudly his chest and his breathing became heavy. His body was no longer cold, but very hot with tension. The boy felt his stomach turn into a rock. But, he told himself, if you don't do this now, you will never do it. He reminded himself about all the stuff that occurred and then agreed that there was no other solution to the problems in his life. Nothing will ever change, he was all out of hope and lost the will to live. It felt as if he was in slow motion, he commanded his feet to move, but they lifted up ever so gradually. Just as soon the boy was about to let go of the railing, he heard someone yell "DON'T DO IT!"

His heart jumped out of his chest and instantly he grabbed the railing tightly and looked behind him to see who had stopped him. It was a girl. She looked about his age. It was dark, but she was eerily beautiful in the moon light. She had long dark hair that danced in the wind. His skin was so pale almost like the moonlight. But, her lips were red as roses and his eyes were the color of the jade. The girl was dressed long coat that went down to her knees and she wore gloves and scarf. Her face was pulled into a desperate expression. She cried out again "Please don't do it."

Her voice although soft, cut into the silence of frosty atmosphere. The girl stepped a little closer to him and looked pleadingly. Adrenaline flowed through his veins, still recovering from the surprise of hearing her cry out. He turned his head around and asked her ,"Why shouldn't I?"

The girl looked as if she couldn't hear him "What?"

He asked again in a emotionless voice ," Why shouldn't I and why do you care?"

She looked at him confused and said ," Because if I walked away, it would be like I murdered you as well."

He said unaffected ," All you have to do is turn around and pretend you didn't see anything. You don't know who I am and what I do is of no concern to you."

The girl looked down, unsure of what to say and then replied," That doesn't matter. It became my concern when I saw you giving up any regards of your life. "

He snapped ," And what would you know about my life? I'm pretty sure if I told you what it was like, you would agree its not worth living it."

"Do you want to bet me on that?"

He turned around, surprised by her question and saw the seriousness of her face. Her voice now stronger and more motivated said ," Do you really think that anything you are going through really means you should die?" What about your family? What about your friends?" Don't they mean something to you?"

"Shouldn't you ask if I mean something to them?" he replied back.

He looked back out at the star lit sky and then asked her ," Why are you trying so hard to stop me?"

The girl looked like she was thinking for a second and then said ," I guess because you mean something to me."

He looked back at her, wanting an explanation. She said ," Yes, I do not know you. This is perhaps the first time I saw you, but the fact that I was here when you were just about to give up your life, I think it means I'm supposed to stop you and help you."

"I see, you are the type that believes in fate, then."

She shook her head. "No, I don't believe in fate, but I do feel like I'm supposed to do something for you."

"You know, you are a really odd girl." He smiled

"Well, at least you are smiling now." she replied.

He realized, it was true. He didn't feel quite as empty. He asked her," Tell me, what is your name?"

She answered ," I'll tell you that if you come back over that railing."

Realizing she had trapped him, but the boy also saw he really didn't care.

"Ok, then. But you have to keep your promise."

"Which one is that?"

"That you will give me your name."

She grinned "Of course."

The boy started to turn around and climb up the railing, when suddenly his food slipped. His body slammed against the railing as he heard her scream "No!"

The girl had rushed over as he slipped and had grabbed his coat. She cried," Give me your hand!"

The boy terrified," But, you can't lift me!"

She begged," Please just trust me."

"Well I don't have much of a choice." He stuck out his hand and she took it. Then she started to pull him. He could tell that she was straining, but yet her grip never loosened. She pulled him back up to the cement and then he helped her pull him back over the railing. They fell onto the ground sweating, their hearts about to jump out their chests. He gasped," Thank you."

She smiled between labored breaths,"You are welcome. I couldn't just walk away."

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