Tonight was a night no different than any other recent night. Except, tonight held the feeling of finality in the air, because with any luck, or rather with any courage, tonight would be the last time that she put on this costume and staged this production. Tonight would be her curtain call, if she could just find it in herself to finally pull the curtains.
Her first time doing this was on a small stage, so close to the water that if she pointed her toes, she could touch. The cool sensation on the very tips of her toes shot lightning all the way up her spine; not in a way that hurt, but in a way that made her feel something. Which was what she wanted, sort of. Maybe. She didn’t know what she wanted, really.
Anyway, the next night she moved up to a ledge a little higher above the water. Definitely too tall to dip her toes in, a footpath above the Bay, for people to stroll along and bike across, and jump off of. But not that kind of jump off of– the kind kids did on Spring Break on videotape to show their friends how daring and cool they were. It was cool to jump off bridges when there was a relatively low chance you could die.
Five nights later and she currently found herself on the William M. Powell Bridge, which hosted the Rickenbacker Causeway running from mainland Miami to Virginia Key. At 76 feet above Biscayne Bay, it was the highest bridge around, and it was where her mom was last seen alive. A 76 foot drop wasn’t always enough to kill a person– it all depended on how you jumped, how you landed, your body mass, the alignment of the stars, how generous God was feeling that night– but it had killed her mom. With any luck, she’d follow suit quietly; here in her favourite, navy blue dress with her shoes, her phone, her bottle of wine, and her note resting on the ledge for somebody to find. Somebody would have to find it, because there was no chance she’d be found otherwise. It wasn’t like anyone was looking for her. It wasn’t like anybody cared.
There was one thing different about tonight, as opposed to the last four, though. Probably due to nerves, the nerves that set in at the thought that she was finally doing this, she wasn’t just playing anymore, she couldn’t stand the silence of it all tonight, the solitude. It was lonely to be left to your own devices.
So, she scrolled through the App Store, trying to download one of those apps that would let her listen to the radio. There had to be some nighttime radio personality gabbing tonight, they would keep her company while she enjoyed the view and her wine, her last indulgence in either of these vices of hers. Her literal splash into the cosmic unknown would be paired with Taylor Jukes of Y100 FM playing Foster The People and expensive French Rosé. Spectacular.
“You’re listening to Y100 FM, it is 9:07pm and the sun is setting over the city of Miami on this beautiful night. Up next we’ve got new hits from Katy Perry and Maroon 5, but before that we’ve got a listener on the line who would like to send out a missed connection out to the city. You’re on the air, listener, can you give us your name?”
“My name’s Rose,” a new voice speaks up.
“Alright Rose, the floor is yours.”
“This missed connection letter goes out to the woman I saw sitting on the edge of the South Pointe Park Pier two nights ago,” she starts. Luisa’s ears perk up immediately. Is she talking about me? I was sitting on the edge of the pier in South Pointe Park two nights ago. “Actually, she was laying down, I think she was drinking a bottle of wine and wearing a dress. She made me curious, that’s all. What’s a pretty woman doing laying on the ledge of a public pier, drinking a bottle of wine in a fancy dress? She also kind of worried me. I don’t know that I have any right to be worried about a woman I don’t know at all, I’m making a snap judgement, I know that. I got a feeling something wasn’t going right, though, and I’d hate for something to happen to her and for everyone to say that nobody noticed, or nobody cared. So, to the girl on the pier: if you’re looking for a sign, this is it. My name is Rose, I was driving by last night on my way home from working a grueling shift when you caught my eye; it’s almost 24 hours later and I can’t get you off my mind. I hope you’re okay, and I hope you know that somebody cares about you– I care about you. And I don’t care about many people, so that makes you pretty special.” There’s a pause in her speech, Luisa waits intently to hear the radio announcer either coax her or cut her off, but she does neither. They both just wait in anticipatory silence for her sweet voice to return again. “I doubt you’re even listening, I don’t why I’m spilling my guts over FM radio. But listen, if you do happen to be out there… I’m on my way to South Pointe Park. I’ll meet you on that ledge. I don’t want to make assumptions that you’ll share your wine with me but if you’re willing, I’ll bring my own glass and I’ll bring us some cheese to go with it. I… don’t know why I said that, I don’t have any cheese to bring. I just mean, I will come and sit with you and I will split your troubles with you, I’’ll be there for you. If you want me to be, that is. So… yeah. I hope you’re listening, I hope you’re still alive. And… I’ll see you soon, maybe. Bye now.”
She probably thinks she’s hung up and the line’s gone dead, but before Rose’s voice completely fades away, the whole city hears her mutter, “Life’s so strange.” Taylor Jukes’ nasally laugh fills the airwaves again a few short seconds after that, as Luisa’s sticking the cork back in her wine and swinging her legs back over the guardrail. She wobbles as she does, far less graceful than she was getting onto that rail. That coulda gone bad, she thinks. Who does that? Who thinks sitting on the edge of the highway is a good idea? Someone who wants to die, maybe, but not me.
But not me, I don’t want to die.
Maybe it was that a stranger with a flowery voice to match her flowery name cared about her enough to tell all of Miami that she was worried about her, or maybe it was that wobble, but she realized in that moment that all she wanted was her toes in the Bay, shooting lightning up her spine and making her feel alive. Alive, darnit, I want to feel alive. And jumping would be the opposite of that.
She’s gotta go, she’s gotta go to South Pointe Park. She’s gotta go meet the woman who cares about her, she’s gotta go share her wine– Lord knows she’s had enough tonight, Rose could have the rest of it. What are the chances Rose likes ros é? What are the chances Rose will be into women? What are the chances she’ll let me kiss her? Out of gratitude obviously, for maybe saving my life.
Life’s so strange. I want to be around for more of it. And I don’t even know you, but I think I want you in mine. I’m excited to meet you, Rose.
Maybe I should call an Uber to get me there, then.