Brad runs ahead, careless and sure, while we carefully make our
way up the concrete arch, bent low, hands out for support. From the
ground it looks simple, just like walking up a hill, but the angle is
way worse than you think, and I can't help but find myself hunching
forward, lowering my center of gravity. Angie follows close behind me,
one hand wrapped around my belt, linking us together, our shared fates.
She looks beautiful like always, skin shining in the sun, and when she
smiles at me I feel warm and safe and alive.
As soon as Brad reaches the top of the arch, he leaps out into
space, and seems to hang there for a moment, perfectly suspended, defying
gravity like he defies everything else, before finally dropping down,
into the deep. He holds his body straight and true, but still it's too
high, there's too much speed, and when he hits the water there is an
explosion of force, and I stop where I am, count the seconds he is out
of sight. The seconds he is without breath.
Angie kisses me and breaks my count, in the cool shade cast by
the bridge above, and her tongue is hot inside my mouth. I squeeze her
body against me and slide my hand down into her pants, into her underwear,
cupping her there. She closes her eyes and rubs herself down against
me, and I feel her wetness come. The river surrounds us.
Brad jumps again, and then again, and finally I can put it off
no longer. I give Angie a smile to show her this is no big deal, I'm
not scared, and then I rise to my feet. Really I'm terrified. I walk
to the edge and look over. And down. Way down.
From here the river is the world, just one sheet of blackness,
and then us, perched on the concrete archway, hidden beneath the highway.
Cars screech by overhead. It's a really strange feeling, hanging in
that middle ground, nature raging below you, man raging above. It's
death either way, and I can't do this, no way, not me. This is insane,
I think, I'm not doing it, and then I realize I've stepped too far,
it's too late, I'm already out in the air, falling, falling.