Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Jumping Off Place

 I am at the jumping off place, she thought. 

She walked into his office and told him she'd quit. "You're not leaving the job," he said, "You're leaving me."

She stood and walked out, because what he'd said was true. 

She went home and packed her clothes and her CDs and her two cups, two plates, two forks, knives, spoons, her one expensive coffee machine. She put a check and her key on the kitchen table, and a note for her roommate. Sorry for the short notice, it read. 

She might have added, I am at the jumping off place.

She went to the bank and withdrew three-thousand, four-hundred, forty-two dollars and seventy-three cents and closed the account. The bank manager wanted to talk about why was she closing her account, and, were there any incentives they could offer to make her stay? But she set her face like flint and smiled tightly and said, "No, thank you." 

It was lunch time and she was hungry and, well aware that you should never jump on an empty stomach, went to the best restaurant in town. She ordered her favorite things, all cream sauces and cheesey pastas and rare meat. She had nothing to read, and so she ordered a salad and greatly admired the tablecloth while she waited for her food. She left, too full, and thankful for elastic waisted pants. 

She drove up on the bridge and then over to the side. She checked her reflection in the mirror, tightened her ponytail. After some consideration, she put on a little lipgloss. There was a small observation deck at the beginning of the pedestrian walkway, and she lingered there, staring at the city. She could see the hospital where she was born, and where her mother  had died. She saw the hotel where she'd had too much to drink before prom and spent the night bent over the toilet, while her boyfriend danced with another girl in the ballroom down the hall. She saw her office building, and thought of meeting him there. 

There was a high metal railing around the observation deck, and down the length of the walkway. She had been standing there, clutching it in her hands, thinking about twenty-eight years spent in this city, in this life, with nothing to show for it. The metal chilled her hands, she put them to her cheeks to warm them. They smelled like old pennies, like dried blood. 

I am at the jumping off place, she thought. 

She turned away from the city and walked back to the car. She started the engine and turned the radio up too loud and pointed the car west. "Just jump," she said aloud, and started to drive.


  1. Love it all. Just love it. Especially this: "They smelled like old pennies, like dried blood."

  2. Yes, exactly what TangledLou said. The pennies are a tremendous moment.

  3. powerful writing, as always (why are all your fiction characters suicidal?!? is that the only way out?)


  4. Great writing. I love that it seems like she might jump, which is irritating because it is obvious, and then she leaves the city. The small details are excellent.

  5. Intriguing. That's the only word I have. Oh, and you write good. ;-)