CORINNE ROSE

Corinne Rose drove thirty minutes through a snowstorm to the St. Cloud Bridge where she parked. Smoked her last cigarette. Left the keys in the ignition. Scribbled “Sorry” on a scrap of paper and placed it next to her purse.

Everyone had tried so hard to help her. Her husband. Her children. Her friends. Everyone had tried. Everyone had failed. They didn’t say as much but she could see it in their eyes when her symptoms returned. The constant fidgeting. Sudden bursts of tears. Lack of sleep. Tiny pink pills that only made her feel worse.

The doctors said, Come on, Corinne, try again. Take your medicine. Michael said, Listen to them. They are trying to help you. No Michael they were trying to help you. I was a foregone conclusion. On the meds, I was far easier to be around. Drugged out of my mind. And now they want to lock my back up again. I can’t do that again. I just can’t.

From the bridge she could barely see the car now buried under snow. Michael would have trouble finding it when he came looking for her.

An iceberg shifted back and forth below her trying to break free of the rocks trapping it. She put one leg over the railing. Laughed at her unexpected fear or was it just the cold that made her tremble. She who had pedaled through the Viet Cong jungle on a bicycle. She who had climbed to the peak of Katmandu. She’d bought new hiking boots a few weeks ago for their next trek through the ancient ruins outside Istanbul. That was when she thought she was better. But she wasn’t. She felt her feet slipping over the edge and pulled back from the thundering, swirling current below.

A blazing ray of sunlight broke through the clouds and shone down on her gold wedding band. She’d meant to leave it in the car. She felt her grandchild’s small hand pulling her away from the bridge and she shook it loose.

She had to hurry now. Michael would be waiting for her at the hospital and when she didn’t show up he would come looking for her. She raised her second leg over the railing. The wind hit her hard and she gripped the railing as if it were the rip cord she’d gripped when dropping out of a plane with Michael in Viet Cong. They’d floundered in the wind, until their parachutes opened. Then, hands clasped, their weightless bodies floated over a field of orange poppies.

She closed her eyes. “I have to do this, Michael. For us.”

Her hands still gripped the railing. White knuckles against gray steel.

She leaned forward and let go.