I’m standing on the bridge, certain he won’t come.
How many years has it been now? Ten, at least. The tenth time I’ve come here, hoping he will show, yet knowing he won’t.
It’s July twelfth, the anniversary of the day he asked me to marry him. My heart is sick with grief and I wonder how it is that I cannot move on. Every day I wander without direction, searching for him, yet he is always just out of reach. It is as if when I enter one door, he slips out of another.
The night is warm and I can smell honeysuckle on the air. Below me, the stream trickles, singing a gentle song to the stones and gravel it passes over. Trees line both sides of the stream, their branches reaching out to each other, like lovers hands grasping, creating a canopy over the water.
I sigh and lean against the small wooden bridge. My fingers twist the platinum band of my engagement ring, the moonlight catching the small cluster of diamonds. I no longer wear it on my left hand, switching it to the right as a sign of our separation, but I cannot bring myself to take it off completely.
Why do I keep torturing myself like this? Too many years have passed for him to still care. He probably has a different life now, one filled with a new family of his own. I cannot believe he still thinks of me, even though thoughts of him seem to be the only thing I know.
Movement catches my eye and I turn to see a figure approaching out of the darkness. My heart picks up a beat, my breath catching in my throat.
He walks toward me, but I don’t know how to react. It’s such a long time since I’ve seen him and I can see the years on his face; in the lines upon his skin and the grey in his hair.
I cannot speak as he stands beside me and leans his forearms on the bridge. He looks down at the flowing water, as if he cannot bear to look at me.
“I didn’t think you’d come,” I say.
“I don’t know why I’m here, Lisa. It’s been such a long time.”
“I’m glad you did.”
“I think I just needed to say goodbye properly. You’ve been playing on my mind and it’s simply not right. I need to get on with my own life.”
“Please, Mark,” I beg. “Let’s just spend some time together, talk things over. If you came, then you must still...”
But his actions still my words. He opens his hand and nestled in his palm is the platinum band and cluster of diamonds of my engagement ring.
My heart stops and I look down at my own ring. How is that possible? Did he have another, identical one made? Why would he do that?
“I need to say goodbye now, Lisa. I’m moving on, just like you have.”
He tilts his hand to drop the ring into the water. I reach out to catch it as it falls, but to my horror, the small circle of metal passes right through my hand, as if I were not even there.
My eyes fill with tears of terror. What the hell was happening?
“I know it wasn’t your fault,” he says, addressing the air. “It wasn’t your fault you left me. The accident was nothing more than that, just a horrible accident. But I need to get on with my life now. It’s been too long and I’m letting you go.”
At his words, I feel something pull against me, as if invisible hands have hold of my shoulders and legs and are tugging me from behind. I look down to see my limbs suddenly seem insubstantial, as if I cannot quite see them or am looking through a mist.
“Help me, Mark,” I call out, terror firing adrenaline through my veins. But now I know he cannot hear me and my voice sounds faint, even to my own ears.
It suddenly dawns on me that I do not know where I’ve been all these years, only that I’ve been searching for Mark, his own grief and longing holding me near. Now he has finally let me go and I am moving on, going to whatever life—or death—holds for me next.
My body is little more than smoke now and still something pulls on me, taking me away from him. The distance between us is growing and now he is simply the figure of a man standing on a bridge.
A man saying goodbye.