Looking up from underneath the shine of water, you see the stars. They are blurred by rushing water above you as you drown but you can’t help but stare in wonder. No matter how the day ends, the stars are still here; twinkling. This is the perfect death scene as your anger dissipates.
You bob your head in and out of the water, gasping for air. You know there’s no fighting the current but survival instincts show that you’ll try. And no matter what, there’s a part of you that wants to survive. There’s a part of you called Hope.
It doesn’t matter that you have unfinished business. You’ll never get to tell that boy with the sad eyes that you loved him; the girls that forced you over the edge with their petty comments will cry at your funeral and you’ll want nothing more to whisper, “I forgive you.” But you can’t.
Because it’s too late.
In the morning, you’ll have been washed up on the riverbank. Townspeople will have cried over your body but you’ll be gone. You’ll be a memory –the memory of a sad girl who just couldn’t take it any longer. Funeral speeches will have been said; wrapped up with words laced with guilt and regret. The same boy you loved will wonder why he never bothered to tell you that he thought you were beautiful. The girls that teased you will let their guilt consume you. You’ll be a ghost in your own town. Your mother will never be able to apologize for never hearing your side. She’ll be blaming herself for what happened to you.
Is it not the perfect revenge? You wanted that. You wanted revenge on everyone that hurt you. You were never mean and beaten into silence; you didn’t deserve any of their hate. And yet, little by little, you started believing their lies. You couldn’t understand why everyone hated you until they convinced you that you were worth hating.
Your lungs burn as the thought of other options turn in your brain. Maybe it was an action for the inevitable but as you slowly give up, your air slowly reducing, you think about it. You’ll never be able to turn your life around, never find love in the unlikeliest place, never do what you want and never have happiness. The icy water numbs your senses but your brain is awake and alert.
Your hands run along the bottom of the river, feeling the stones, cold from night. Your hands are craving heat but you can’t deliver. As you open your eyes to the burn of almost warm water repeatedly rinsing your eyes, you stare up at the stars one last time. Most people would prefer to see their parents one last time; tell them they appreciate all that their parents have done for them. But no, as you lie there, wet, dark and alone, the stars will comfort you.
The water rushes through you as you count the seconds. Tick tock. A part of your brain registers that you still have a choice.
Make your decision.
Jumping off the top of the bridge was not the hard part. As your feet left the metal ledge, you felt weightless. You were flying but then it was all over; you fell and collapsed. The raw euphoria in that feeling of flight gave you hope, until you plummeted. You can say the same for life. It isn’t collapsing that made you jump; it’s lack of control. And you just can’t live like that.
There is light feeling in your fingers; you aren’t completely numb yet. Summer isn’t over yet and as a result, you won’t freeze to death. As an emotional overload runs through you, you make your decision.
You push off the bedrock at the bottom of the river, the rocky texture feeling strange on your pale foot. The rapid current fights you but you fight harder. Ignoring the burning sensation in your limbs, you push and swim off to the side. There is still a sense of doubt as the current overpowers you but you’re latched on to the idea that you want to live. And with a final push, you land on the edge of the river. You relish in the feeling of sweet oxygen in your lungs. Your body is shaking and you weigh a thousand pounds but you’re happy with your choice. You want to turn your life around, want to find love in the unlikeliest place, want to do what you want and above all, want to be happy. You want that feeling of weightlessness and joy from the smallest of actions.
After a while, you stand up and walk away. You won’t make it very far but when someone finds you, you’ll be okay.
And now, you’re still washed up on the riverbank and some people will cry over what happened but there’s a difference:
You’ll be alive.