Saturday, 25 June 2016

ON THE EDGE by Maureen MYANT

She narrowed her gaze until the headlights below blurred into a single stream: cars, lorries, buses surged towards their destinations. How would it feel to drift into that river of traffic? To float on air, her hair billowing out behind her...
A cough.  She turned, re-focused her eyes. 
            ‘You all right?’ A whippet of a man, running on whisky by the smell of him. Eyes bloodshot bleary, but kind. A slur of words. ‘Not gonna jump, are you?’
            She shook her head and smiled. It felt strange. 
            ‘Drink?’ he offered a half empty bottle.
             Johnny Walker glowed like amber. She reached out, let her fingers slide over the smooth glass. ‘No. Thanks anyway.’
            ‘Fair enough.’ He saluted her with the bottle and left, his walk unsteady.  A few yards from the end of the bridge he looked back, and she waved, the smile frozen on her lips. A gust of wind caught her hair and wrapped it round her face in damp strands. By the time she’d brushed it away he had gone.
            She leaned against the railing, caressed it, dragged her fingertips over the pits and bumps of the rusty surface.  Her hipbones grazed it as she tilted her body forward, arms outstretched like the Angel of the North.  A few inches and she’d be over. 
             A whisper, ‘don’t let me drink alone.’ The man was beside her, one hand on her arm, the other holding the bottle.
             Eyes closed, she didn’t look at him as she moved away.  ‘Ok.’
They walked the length of the bridge in silence. ‘I wasn’t going to jump,’ she said.
‘No,’ he agreed.
‘Flying’s more my style.’
‘I know.’
She took a sip of the whisky. Another time, she thought. 

1 comment:

  1. I really like the subtlety of this. No melodrama, no fuss; just a quiet, unspectacular intervention by an unlikely hero. It's temporary but maybe he knows that; maybe he'll be watching out for her, her own Angel of the North.

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