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by Joanna FitzPatrick
Corinne Rose drove thirty minutes through falling snow to the St. Cloud Bridge. Smoked her last cigarette. Left the keys in the ignition. Purse on the seat. "Sorry" on a scrap of paper on the dashboard.
Everyone had tried so hard to make her happy again. 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 disappointed eyes when her symptoms returned. The constant fidgeting. The tears. The sleepless nights. Then came the tiny pink pills that only made her feel worse.
The doctors saying Come on, Corinne, try again.. Michael saying, Let them help you.
From the bridge she looked back at the car now buried in snow. Michael would look for her here where she always came when she couldn't stop crying.
An iceberg twitched back and forth, trapped between the rocks. With one leg over the railing, she hesitated. Laughed at her fear. She who'd ridden through the Viet Cong jungle on a bicycle. She who'd climbed to the peak of Katmandu. Fear had never stopped her and it would not now.
The thundering, swirling current below reached up for her. She pulled back.
A sudden blazing ray of sunlight broke through the clouds and shone down on the golden wedding band wrapped around her age-weathered finger. She thought she felt the tug of her grandchild's small hand pulling her away from the river's current. The rugged hiking boots held to the slippery edge. She'd bought them for their next trek through the ancient ruins outside Istanbul.
It was three o'clock. Michael was waiting for her at the hospital. She raised her second leg. 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. They'd floundered in the wind, until their parachutes opened. Then, hands clasped, their weightless bodies floated over a poppy field.