It Doesn't Always ShowAuthor:
PG-13 (theme)Word Count:
Sometimes you hide the darkness from everyoneWarnings
Suicidal ideation. Depression.
He parks in the small nature reserve car park at the far end of the bridge. For the third evening in a row he ignores the ticket machine. He'll be back in ten minutes or not at all. The binoculars in the glove compartment are camouflage; he slings them around his neck. Either they work or no-one cares anyway; the occasional car crossing the bridge never stops.
It's dusk, going to be full dark soon. He's always liked this bridge, one of Telford's minor creations, the iron girders solid and elegant. As he walks back to the centre of the span he runs his fingers along the cool metal, recalling the chill feel of fuselage.
They are due to fly north tomorrow, to the winter darkness of Stockholm. Maybe if it had been Italy he could have waited another couple of days, but probably not. Last week the Sahara sun beat down on him and he felt nothing. He's tired of the cold and darkness that he drags with him everywhere.
Ironic, really. He looks down at the cold dark river below, trying to feel repelled by the fast flowing water, trying to want to stay, but all he feels is tired and done with it all. Another day under the brightness of the flight deck lights, the same old jokes, the same people, pretending that everything's still fun. They won't miss him; they must be as tired of him as he is of them. They'll find a real pilot to replace him.
He can't go on flying now, anyway. Not since the sides of mountains and the depths of oceans started calling so seductively to him. If they find out they'll take his licence and without that what is he? He's a risk to them all, and he doesn't want to take anyone with him; he just wants to go, for it to be done with.
This time he knows that he won't walk back to the car. He can be over the low barrier in seconds. He wishes briefly for a longer fall, some instantaneous end, but hypothermia won't take long, as long as no-one sees him go over the edge. There is a car coming up; he pulls the binoculars up to his eyes, looks far out over the river, waiting for it to pass.
It slows, stops a little way away, and the driver's door opens. Disguise is not enough, then; he readies himself to sound cheerful. He's got good at doing that, recently.
"Is everything all right?" The voice is instantly familiar and he feels a sudden rage. Can't they leave him alone for even long enough for this? He drops the binoculars, turns to confront his colleague.
"Have you been following me?"
"Christ! Douglas?" Martin's astonishment sounds entirely genuine. "No! What are you doing?"
"What are you
doing? This isn't your way home."
Martin shakes his head. "I go this way, sometimes. What on earth do you...? No, stupid question. Sorry."
"I was birdwatching."
"No, you weren't. You were thinking of jumping. You mustn't do that."
"Mustn't I?" What on earth does Martin know of the endless, miserable drag that is his current and future existence? No-one knows, but him. "It's my life."
"Not tonight. You jump now, I call the emergency services and then jump in after you and some poor sod of a police diver has to get in there and pull us both out again."
That isn't fair, but he doesn't have the energy to protest. His nice quiet exit from the world has just got noisy and complicated and he gives up. There is always tomorrow. Not even Martin's best efforts can keep him alive if he doesn't want to be. He can always run rings round Martin.
"Come back with me and we'll get you some help."
"There isn't any help." If there had been a way out he'd have found it. He's been looking since Helena left and there hasn't been any way but down and the bottle at the bottom of it.
"Just let me try. You've got nothing to lose."
There is that. There is an arm around his shoulder, ushering him into the van, and Martin's voice, steady for once, telling him what to do. He manages to ask the question.
"So what made you stop? No-one else does."
Martin shrugs, awkward. "I have a friend... someone stopped for him, once."
"Different river. But I'm always looking out, just in case."
"Was he grateful?"
"Not at the time. Some time afterwards- yes. Very grateful indeed."
Douglas thinks for a moment of the years ahead of him and he doesn't feel grateful at all. Still, there is part of him glad he's not fighting the freezing water as he's dragged under for one last time. Maybe he'll let Martin try. After all when he fails, the river will still be there.