I stood on Dead Man's Bridge. It was nick-named that because about
forty years ago this guy jumped off the bridge for some reason or another.
The story didn't have much substance to it but it was true. People say that
on nights when there's a half moon the guy's ghost comes out and sits on
the bridge. People say lots of thing, most of them never true. But then
again what do people know?
Like take my father for example, he keeps saying that my mother is
going to come back home someday soon, but she won't. Then there's my
brother, he keeps saying he's not addicted to cocaine, but he is. My life
isn't an easy one, but it didn't always suck. Things have just been hard
since Mom walked out on us. That's when the people in town started to talk,
none of what they said was true really, but it still made things hard. So
see, people talk.
The river rushed under me as I stared into the black churning waters.
It was really late. I had snuck out of the house because Bret, my brother,
came home wasted again and he and Dad were having another fight. I didn't
really belong at home anyway. I'm so much like Mom on so many different
levels that neither Dad nor Bret wants me around. They love me, I know they
do, but I also know how hard it is on them. I'm this constant reminder of
Mom. I felt a drop of rain plop onto the top of my head. Soon, it began to
The rain fell down soaking me through, but it felt good. It made me
feel alive. I wasn't at the bridge to jump off of it. I was there to think
and get away from the mess my life has become. I come to the bridge to
think stuff though and to try and figure things out. I also come to the
bridge to see if anyone will come looking for me. They don't. I pulled my
jacket around me tighter. The night air was already freezing and the icy
cold rain wasn't helping. My teeth began to chatter as I leaned on the rail
to look deeper into the raging river. That one guy had found his answer in
them; maybe my answer lay dormant at the bottom of the riverbed. I was just
praying that my answer wasn't the same as his.
"Aren't you freezing?" A voice asked from behind me. I jumped a mile
in the air and spun around to see who was behind me. Was I so lost in my
thoughts that I hadn't heard any footsteps?
"Well, yeah," I said eyeing the person. Actually the person was a guy
my age. He wore clothes that looked like they were from the fifties, but
I'm not one to judge. There were tons of kids around who liked to dress
like they were from a different decade. "Aren't you cold too?"
"Nah," He answered as he came to stand next to me. He leaned on the
railing and gazed into the churning waters beneath us. "I'm used to the
"Really? So what's your name?"
"Thomas.Tommy.Tom, it varies depending on the person," He answered as
he sent me a smile. "So what are you doing out here?"
"I could ask you the same thing," I muttered under my breath. He must
have heard because I got an answer.
"I look for answers."
"Yeah? Me too," I said giving him a small smile. "I haven't found
"What's your name?" He asked after a moment's silence.
"Michelle," I answered. "My mom used to call me Mick though, before
"Mick," Tom said slowly as he looked me over. "Yeah, it works. I like
"Me too," I said softly. I gazed at the waters below and became lost
in my own thoughts once again.
"Your not thinking about jumping are you?" Tom inquired as he turned
"No, I wouldn't jump," I replied. "It's not my kind-a thing." I
smiled over at him.
"Good, so what's on your mind? People tell me I'm a really good
I scoffed. "People say lots of things," I said flatly. I looked over
at Tom who stood there patiently, and then I sighed. "It's a long story," I
"I don't mind."
We sat there on Dead Man's Bridge for a long time. Me talking and Tom
listening, he really was a good listener. I told him all about my mom, my
dad, and Bret. I told him about how the kids at school avoided me because
they were scared they'd say the wrong thing. I told him about how hard it
was to hear the nasty rumors that floated around in the air. I told him
about how much I loved my mom and didn't understand why she left. I told
him all about everything. Tom didn't really say anything after I was done
talking, and he didn't need to. The rain had gone from buckets to a light
drizzle, but the night was still cold.
"No problem," He said grinning. "I know what its like to not have
anyone to talk to, and then go searching for answers."
"Did you ever find your answer?" I asked after I took in a deep
breath of the rain-fresh air.
"Sort-a," Tom said as he shifted in his seat. "It wasn't the one I
wanted but it worked for me.I guess. I wouldn't recommend it for anyone
"What was it?" I asked.
The answer was short and out of the bridge there wasn't much noise, I
couldn't have heard him wrong, but I had too.
Tom sighed. "Yeah, I jumped. There wasn't a real reason, or maybe
there were so many I don't know which one was the real one, you know? I
felt trapped and things in my life weren't ever going to get better. I just
wanted to get away from it all and I found my answer in the river." Tom
looked up at me and into my eyes. "But you answer won't be the same as
mine. I know you'll want to get away from it all, but don't get the wrong
answers because you think they'll be easier. I don't regret what I did, but
others would. You're a great person Michelle and you will do great things,
never forget that."
I sat there in shock for a minute not really believing what was
happening. I was sitting on Dead Man's Bridge with the "dead man" himself.
"Thanks." I said my voice trailing off. "Are you really dead?" I
didn't believe it, I couldn't believe it.
"Yeah," Tom said a sad smile on his lips. "It's not great, but it's
not all bad either. I get to see people cross the bridge and I see you and
others who come to stand on it. It gets lonely sometimes. It was great to
talk to you."
"Wait, you have to go?" I asked reaching for Tom but finding that my
hand went right through him. My eyes widened and I stared at my hand. "That
was so weird." I looked up at Tom who looked a little worried. "Weird in a
Tom smiled as he stood up. "Yeah, I got to be going. The sun's coming
up and everything, besides you should be getting home too."
"Yeah," I said absently as I stood up and dusted off the back of my
jeans. I gave Tom a small smile. "When I come back again, will you be here
"Yes," Tom said his smile growing bigger. "I will always be here."
"Good." I went to hug Tom but then stopped. "Well, I guess this is
good-bye till next time," I said smiling.
"Yeah, see you later," Tom said smiling; he then turned and
disappeared into the morning fog that was hugging the ground. I began my
walk home with my hands stuffed into my pockets. I was daydreaming about
the nice, warm clothes that waited for me at home.
I went to visit Tom every night the moon was half full for a long
time. I then went off to collage and grew up. A few years after I graduated
from collage my dad passed away. The night after his funeral I went to Dead
Man's Bridge and Tom was there waiting for me. It was weird, he hadn't
changed a bit, but I hadn't expected him too. We talked for along time and
I told Tom how much he meant to me. He just smiled at me.
People will always talk, that's true, but you have to give them more
credit than you think. A lot of times, they know what they're talking
about, even if they don't realize it.