How to Get Over the Bridge

Porsche Garrett

Step One:

Do NOT throw yourself off of it. While yes, technically that would be getting over the bridge in the quickest manner, contrary to popular belief that way is rather inefficient. Some part of you will always be on the bridge. Some part of you will always be falling. Some part of you will always just be hitting the water down below.

Step Two:

Place your hands on the cool metal of the railing. Plant your feet firmly on the bridge and lean over to look at the rushing torrent. Don’t take your hands off the railing. Don’t lose your balance. Don’t give in to what you came here to do.

Step Three:

Now, for a mental exercise-Imagine what it would be like to fall. Crashing through all that air. Sticking the landing so you don’t end up all cracked and splintered or brain damaged but still kicking. The “SPLAT!” reminding you of the fat kid jumping off the high dive. He was your friend. He wore a shirt to the pool. His mother told him he was just “big-boned.” After the epic belly flop he did, you could see how red his round stomach was through the thin, sodden material of his shirt. You don’t ask him about the shirt that he keeps unsticking from his stomach. He doesn’t ask you about the shorts you keep repositioning around your thighs. Both of you overdressed for the pool. He was your friend. You clapped for him as he left the pool and shook the water out of his ears. He did a few more tricks for you. Falling gracefully into the deep end, sending that chlorine-scented wave to splash you as you dipped only your feet in.

Step Four:

Keep your hands on the railing. You guys were on a field trip. Bright yellow bus all abuzz with kids shouting across the aisles much to the chaperones’ chagrin. It was crowded. Some accident up ahead. Instead of seconds, crossing the bridge took minutes. You’ve never been good with heights. You’ve never been good with water. He took the aisle seat. Shielded you as you hyperventilated until the bus wheels bumped over dry land again. Gave you a hand to squeeze the life out of. Gave you a quick smile. Whispered into your ear “if the bridge collapses at least we’re taking all these fuckers with us.” Somehow you managed to laugh breath back into your body.

Step Five:

Turn your face to the wind. A few years later, you’ll drown for a bit and you won’t even have time to remember him. Your life won’t even flash before your eyes. You’ll just be thinking you should have learned to swim better. It takes three people to drag you out of the water. You were never dragged out of the water. Even now, you are still drowning off the coast.

Step Six:

Get cocky with it. Jump up and down on the bridge. Same spot, hands still on railing. Feel it sturdy underneath your feet. He was your friend. You didn’t call or text him anymore. Had to scroll back a few months just to see the last Instagram post you liked. Did the bridge just creak? He was your friend. When you saw him in that thrift store, you kept dodging down other aisles. Stealthily avoiding eye contact range. He bumped into you anyways. You guys chatted for a while. He seemed so jittery. He’d lost all the weight. Arms and legs rail thin. You feel the cold metal railing in your hands. Involuntarily, your hands grip it tighter. Tight enough to see your knuckles turn white. Bone stretched taut against skin.

Step Seven:

That’s it. You get down from the bridge. It’s not that hard. Just one foot in front of the other. Down the ladder. You’re off the bridge. You’ll climb up again about seven weeks from now. And again, getting down from the bridge will be nauseatingly easy. He was your friend. Even now, some part of him is still on the bridge. Even now, some part of him is still holding your hand. He took a part of you with him and you took a part of him. Even now, some part of him is sitting on that bus, getting over the bridge with you.