Chapter 1

It was a shame I hadn't brought it with. It was always awkward trying to decide where the note went. I had decided to leave it on the table in the dark of the kitchen at home but now that I was here I felt that maybe I should have brought it with. I could have left it on the windshield with a single white rose. It would have been poignant and haunting. No one was home, after all. It would have been found quicker if I had left it with the car.

I had parked on the side of the road just off the bridge. It wouldn't take the police long to find me. Cars were whizzing past, their noise elevated on the bridge- their headlights flaring past, streaking hot and bright through the dark winter night. There would probably be witnesses. Mom would have to be called up in the middle of an important meeting half way across the country. She would say that she was busy and ask to hold the call, and then the secretary or assistant would say, "It's the police."

She would have to take it.

I smiled at the thought. She hated taking calls during meetings. I would break her heart.

My phone buzzed in my pocket as I stepped onto the bridge. A car honked as it drove past. This bridge wasn't for pedestrians, I was practically in the traffic. I dug into my plaid jacket, which was enormous. It belonged to my Dad. I had only worn it because I was cold, but it was the ugliest thing and it definitely wasn't coming with me. I would leave it behind when I jumped. It was covering a lacy, white gown that draped well past my feet, beneath the fleece lined hood my black hair had been forcibly ironed into sweeping curls, I had spent the better part of the day trying to find daisies and nettles for a crown with no luck. Being that winter was not their season I had forsaken the small detail.

I pulled out the phone and sighed as I took the call.

"Father?" I asked, making my tone sweeping and dramatic as if I were on a stage.

"Hey, Mags, are you busy?"

I cringed as I heard that name. Mags. Short for Maggie, sometimes I was Magpie. It made me shudder. I was on the bridge now, the boundary between myself and a steep fall was a block of cement that came to my waist. Not a problem.

"I'm afraid so," I said, grandly. But curiosity got the best of me and I asked, "Why?"

"Me and Veronica are having dinner. I know your mother is out of town. We were wondering if you'd join us." His voice was grainy from the static, but chipper and hopeful. "What are you up to?"

I glanced over the cement block and saw the frigid, churning pitch of the river below. In the fluorescent orange of a street light I could see the jagged layers of ice crusting the river's edges. "Catching up on my English literature."

I swung a leg over and found a small ledge just beyond. It was as if this bridge was built for jumpers. Another pair of headlights swung past and someone blared on their horn hard.

"What was that noise?" my dad asked, his tone was suddenly suspicious. "Mags, where are you?"

"A willow grows aslant a brook," I replied, bringing my other leg over as well, and balancing on a ledge that was only wide enough to stand on tip toe. I shrugged out of the plaid jacket awkwardly as I tried to keep the phone to my ear, switching hands when the one holding it had to go through a sleeve.


On the other end of the line I could hear Veronica ask, "Honey, what's wrong?"

"Maggie, tell me where you are." He was stern now. "I'm getting in my car and I'm coming to get you. Just tell me-"

"I love you," I said. "Bye."

I dropped the phone and took one exhilarating breath to inhale the smell of exhaust and snow. As I closed my eyes I spread my arms wide and I jumped. The fall was a moment, a blink. It wasn't slow and I didn't see my life before my eyes. In fact it wasn't even long enough to be considered a rush. But it was long enough to catch one detail. Right before I hit that ground I heard tires screech on the bridge above.