One second I had that story in my mind; the next, I was dreaming; and then I was reliving the nightmare of what had happened five years ago. I woke up abruptly, sweating, hard breathing, and trying to turn on the light. I fumbled around for the remote that accessed the fan and the fan light and turned it on. Two thirty eight a.m., and I was wide awake.
“Why did I dream that?” I asked quietly to myself. I lie back down and put my hand over my clammy head. My heart was beating as badly as that day four and a half years ago, but I wasn’t crying. Sorrow filled my emotional body and I started to tear up, because the only thing that was worse than a man jumping off a bridge was the aftermath. Mom had been heart stricken, and she sailed downward into depression. Cap cried too, but she was not as bad as Mom was. They both, however, had similar problems; they were concerned about how I dealt with the loss of a father.
It all started with the day after the suicide. The only thing I remember the most was Cap and my argument a week or so after the incident. It was an hour later and I still kept on thinking about it. I started to get drowsy; the room was dark again. The fan was on low power level, quietly blowing a breeze in the room to attempt to calm me down. It worked; I began to fall asleep, and started to dream again. Unfortunately, it was not what I wanted to relive again.
“…And that is all that happened?” Officer Bradey asked me.
“Yes,” I reported, coldly. I was not crying anymore; I was all shaky. I felt numb, everywhere on my body.
“Okay, thank you for your help,” Officer Bradey said. He went back into the car with double colored sirens. He got in and started writing down more information on his note card and spoke into his intercom. A hand grabbed my shoulder, and I turned to see who it was.
“You okay, buddy?” Mark asked me. I looked at him, but didn’t say anything. I looked down at his brown converse sneakers and my black converse sneakers. The cement was still its depressing grey and they sky began to shine a misty blue throughout the holes in the clouds. The wind stopped, everything was still. The rescue crew was at the bottom of the bank, and several miles down the river. Four or five helicopters hovered the sky as watchful eyes covering a wide radius in case of a survivor in the water. The river was mucky and cloudy, it was then the city issued the river to be filtered.
After million and one hours of interrogation, the crowd of prospectors died down and the officials made their way back to the station or to another mess that occurred around the city that day. Mark went home, Gerard went home, and Ingrid went home. Not all simultaneously though, Mark left first, he had to finish homework for school tomorrow, even after this tragedy. Gerard and Ingrid stayed with me for half an hour longer but they were meant to be home because of family and homework and whatnot. I stayed, standing at the exact spot where he jumped. My hands rested on the bridge side fence, grasping tightly on the handle bars as I thought about all the reason why he would jump.
That question was mentioned during the interrogation, “Do you know why he jumped?” I did not answer that, I could not answer that. It was a question that clouded my mind for two more years. But it wasn’t my fault, it could not have been. Parents cannot blame their children, because of what happened with their lives. It was their lives, I did not interfere whatsoever. I had this hunch that something dreadful was going to happen, ever since earlier today, when he did not say “I love you” back. That was our trademark, our call sign, the only thing in this world that kept him and my relationship between us alive.
The river flowed soothingly; moments after the tragic tragedy. I grew angry, a sudden rage fumed through my body. I ran down to the bank; the murky water silently sailed down the riverside.
“Why did you leave?!” I shouted at the water. “Why did you jump when the storm was at its worst?”
There was absolutely no answer. Only the water gave out a call, the sound of swishing and small splashing against the cement sides. I looked around for a large pebble; some rock the size of a fist. The gravel a couple of feet poses the greatest percentage of finding a rock such as the one I desired. Only scouring for a second, I found one, and with all my rage I threw it into the murky water. Ripples ravaged through the area and got larger and larger. The splash was mighty devastating, even if it was only for a brief few seconds. The water made it onto my shoes, and wet my socks. I didn’t care anymore; I didn’t care about anything anymore.
Mom cried, Cap cried, but I didn’t cry. I did not cry the next day either, and I still went to school as normally as anyone else. The world of education seemed normal, kids were gossiping, jocks were bullies, and stoners were still stoners. Everything that day was in slow motion, even the talking of Mr. Richards, who was also the eighth grade summer school teacher for history, slurred to a slow motion film. Nothing was more exciting than watching and listening to a man point his pointer and lecture at slow rate. However, the second half of class sped up dramatically as Mr. Richards switched gears to something worth my time. Four hours of nonstop lecturing about the Chinese language was entertaining yet boring. Learning a different language always inspires me to do work in class.
“The Chinese ‘Q’ is pronounced with the ‘CH’ sound,” explained Mr. Richards. He began to write down Chinese words or known as “ping ying” up on the board. Then, under it he drew this large symbol which looked like a hooked lower case “T” with a slanted horizontal stroke. “You see this here, ‘Qi’ means seven and is pronounced ‘chi’,” he further explained. The class gave out an impressive “aww” in amazement.
“Uh, Mr. Collins,” Mr. Richards called out at the end of the summer class. I turned around and walked over to his desk. He was sitting in rather black desk, sorting out papers. He wore a brown business suit with small golden stripes, and beige slacks. His shoes did not match anything on his attire, they were white sneakers. He also did not wear a tie that day. He dresses more appropriately now then back then, five years ago. He spoke to me, “I have heard about the incident with your father and I am amazed that you would still attend school right after such a tragic calamity. I am well aware that even though I look like a teacher to you, you can always come to me for help. I took counseling as my major in college, and I assure you that I have the degree to help you in your time of need.”
“Thank you, sir, but I can handle this on my own,” I said.
“It is okay to cry about it, you know. Bottling up emotions and feelings will just damage you in the future,” he advised. I nodded at him, taking his advice, but also very confused about what he said. It was not really good advice anyways, since I did not understand it. “Oh, and you are going to have a substitute tomorrow. I will be out on my marathon.”
“Good luck,” I said, and walked towards the door. I turned around, “Mr. Richards, can you take a note for the substitute?”
“What did you want her to know?” he asked. Something else I found out about tomorrow’s plan, our temporary teacher was a woman.
“Tell her that I like to be called Quet,” I walked over and wrote down the spelling.
“I take it that the Chinese inspire your imagination, very well, I’ll leave this note for her then,” he said. I nodded saying “thanks” and left. The walk home was without a doubt dreadful. The summer heat burned the cement, killing anything and anyone. Finding shade was troublesome, because the trees were merely infants at their state right now. A few small branches and leaves gave a small radius of shadow. Cars vroomed by, and the unsatisfactory and crazy hot wind trailed with the cars. Home at last and I opened the door. A burst of cool, fresh, air conditioned air blasted my body. No one seemed home, Mom did not work at the time, so she must be out running errands.
I heard footsteps upstairs, it was probably Mom. I went up to investigate the origin of the footsteps; it came from my parent’s room. It must have been Mom; she must still be heartbroken, since it happened exactly twenty four hours ago. I opened the door quietly, but still it squeaked, and saw her on the bed passed out with an empty bottle of Champaign in her hands. She was a mess, I took the bottle from her hands, and looked over to her side of the room, and found two more empty bottles. I got scared, no one could have drunken that much and still be alive. I quickly called the Department and an ambulance rushed to our house, taking Mom away in the back. A group of neighborly children crowded around the ambulance, whispering to each other, asking irrelevant questions. One came over to me.
“Was your mom attacked by a monster?” ask a boy, about eight or seven.
I looked at him, not wanting to cloud his innocent mind with the truth about alcoholism. “Yes she was, she was attacked by a company of monsters,” I replied.
“Oh no, we are in trouble! Are they going to come after us?” he asked again.
“No, not until you’re twenty one, go ask your parents about it when you are twelve or thirteen and they’ll know all about it,” I said. I did not want to influence his actions now or the others. Information travels at the speed of light when it comes to children.
I stayed at the house to clean up and the ambulance left. I called Cap at her part time job and she came home as soon as possible and drove us to the hospital Mom was held at. It was the same as Mark’s hospital, the one where he had his arm stitched and medical casted.
The doctor said that she would live; she only had a BAC of .07 and told us to remove any liquor from our house. She had to stay in the hospital for about two days and they sent her home on the third.
I didn’t remember much after that, I mean, nothing happened. Mom still stayed drunkard and Cap and I started to argue more. Arguments about little things, just squabbles; but they all had to deal with the family. I hated to argue with her, she would never let things go. It all began on the second anniversary when the man committed that dreadful suicide.
“He is alive, Quet!” she screamed at me.
“I don’t want to take this bullshit anymore,” I said, “Scientists this, scientists that. Well guess what, even if they proved it, nothing is going to bring him back.”
I walked away. She grabbed me by the shoulders and spun me around. “Get the fuck out of my face!” I cried.
“You fucking listen, ever since he died, you started to have this attitude. You don’t care about anything anymore. Don’t you care that he is alive? What about all the things he has done for you in the past,” she explained loudly.
“Look at all the things he has done for us now,” I yelled at her, “Mom has never left her room since that day and she’s been drinking, bottles and bottles and bottles. This never would have happened if he left.”
“You are getting away from my point, Quet, even if he is or is not alive, we would still have to commemorate him in this household.”
“I don’t want to.”
“What about the things he has done for you.” She eyed me despicably, trying to get a small piece of sympathy from me for the man. I just turned away and said quietly, “Guess I won’t get my bike.” She gave a humungous “Ugh!” and left the room. I heard the garage door open and the car zooming out of the driveway. I heard a squeaking noise from upstairs. Mom was eavesdropping. I went up to tell her everything was okay. Turns out that nothing was okay; she was sitting on the bed corner, facing away from the door. She had two bottles of small whisky bottles in each hand, drinking sips from each consecutively. “Mom...” I said, hesitantly. She did not turn around. She was wearing her blue bath robe, which was turning into a shade of yellow, from spilling alcohol onto the robe. “What you heard, downstairs, between me and Cap-,” I began. I was interrupted by her, when she turned around. The influence of the alcohol has turned her insane, her eyes were bulging red and she had a sobbing face. She threw down her bottles of hard liquor and ran to me, grabbing me by the collar of my shirt.
“You were there, weren’t you?” she asked. I did not understand what she meant by that. “You were there!” she started to accuse me.
“Mom?” I wasn’t sure where she was going with all this.
“You saw him jump didn’t you?” she asked me again. “You were right behind him when he jumped weren’t you?”
I started to get the picture, but what she said was not true. I was yards away from that bridge when he jumped. Or was I? “Mom, I wasn’t on the bridge at that time,” I explained.
“How were you on the bride moments after he jumped?” she questioned me again. Her breath started to sicken me. The stench of the robe, the room, and her began to make me nauseous.
“I don’t know I was just here!” I cried, squirming free. She pushed me against the wall; her nails started to rip through my shirt and dug into the skin above my collar bone.
“You pushed him didn’t you?” she screamed, “Why did you push him!”
“Mom, you’re drunk!”
“WHY DID YOU PUSH HIM? YOU HATED HIM! YOU HATED ME TOO! WHEN WILL YOU PUSH ME OFF THAT BRIDGE?” spit began to fly everywhere. I couldn’t handle it anymore; I used my arms to break my mom’s grasp. She fell back on the bed and I darted for the door. I was crying, I was scared, I was confused. Thoughts and scenarios raced through my head. What she said was not true, but I hardly remember what happened that day anymore. Could what she have said was true then? Her accusations started to create imagery in my head and the whole story about that day changed. No, she wanted me to think that, she was drunk. She did not know what she was saying or thinking or anything. She attacked her own son, is that what alcohol does to the human brain? Losing perception and personality because of the bottles of hard liquor could damage a person forever. They become addicted to the feeling, because the feeling feels good.
I opened the door, Mark was there, surprised. He had his arm up, fist ready to knock on the door. He was surprised that I opened the door coincidentally the moment he showed up. I pushed him out of my way and ran to the bridge, wanting to know what exactly had happened that fateful day.
The fall breeze was neither soothing nor relaxing to me. The colors of the leaves began to emit the shades of grey and the bark of the trees started to turn black. The sky grew cloudy, but not a dark cloudy. High, white clouds filled the sky today, not the dreadful rainy ones that took place that day. Mark started to chase after me, but I was faster. I reached the bridge first, looking back, I did not see him. He must have gotten tired and stopped the chase. I went to the spot where the man stood. I clutched the handle bars on the fence. It was cold, and rusty, and clammy. The paint coating peeled off revealing the ironwork under it, but since it had been raining and the iron was exposed, oxidation occurred for the past years. I looked down; the wind had sped up the water flow. The water was crisp and clear. The government gave the city a funding which allowed the construction of filters placed throughout the city wherever the river went.
You could see the bottom of the river, the clean shiny cement bottom. The sun reflected off the water, blinding my eyes. I closed my eyes, and thought. Gasping for air, I stood there contemplating, running scenarios in my mind trying to find out what really happened that day. What Mom said clouded my judgment and each scenario I ran I kept on seeing myself pushing the man off the bridge, pummeling into the water.
“No, that’s not true!” I shouted at the river. But I kept thinking it was true, and I fell to my knees. “It is true,” I admitted to myself. I murdered a man, I murdered him. How else could he have jumped? How else could I find myself standing right there the moment after he jumped? I got up, and climbed over the fence towards the edge of the bridge.
A few months ago, a group of scientists and detectives looked over the case when the man committed suicide off the bridge. Few experiments were conducted and all of them came out as false. They concluded that no man could have ever died from jumping off this bridge, saying it was impossible. But they did mention it was plausible that the current from that day could have drowned him, but the rescue team from that day, five years ago, claimed to have found a body.
I wanted my life to end now. I wanted it so badly, but then I thought about Mr. Richard’s philosophy speech.
“It is okay to cry about it, you know. Bottling up emotions and feelings will just damage you in the future,” was what he said that summer. All those thoughts I had for the past two years, all the feelings I bottled up, it did damage my future. My eyes opened wider than a horse’s eye. My suppressive depression has caused me to do something which would end my life.
“Is that how you felt, Dad?” I asked the river. “I don’t want to be like you, Dad.”
I felt a pair of arms wrapping around me. It was Mark, screaming not to jump. I tried to wiggle him off of me, but in the process, lost my balance and I lunged down to the water, belly flopping my landing. I remained conscious and I swam back up to the surface. I yelled up to Mark, “You killed me Mark!” He ran down to the bank and helped me ashore. I lay on my back and rolled up my shirt to reveal my red stomach. I have out a painful moan.
“Are you all right, buddy?” she asked me shaking my shoulders. He looked so worried, he was about to cry. I laughed.
“That was so fun, I want to do it again!” I exclaimed to him, still lying on the ground. He was still in shock and worried.
“Tell me that you’re all right?” he asked me.
“Yeah, everything is all right,” I replied back.