On a cold, gray November morning, Celeste Minton made her way to her final destination. Her numb, unprotected hands were tucked in the pockets of her black peacoat, which she had chosen purposely despite the near-freezing temperatures. In one of her hands, she held her cell phone, which she would use once she reached her destination to send final messages to those she cared about most: her parents, Sherry and Ted Minton, and her best and only friend, Heidi Lovejoy.
The voices in her head just wouldn’t stop. They had been tormenting her all night, causing her nightmares and a restless sleep. Eventually, she had just given up and accepted her fate, waking up around five AM to prepare.
Today was November fourth, 2015. The day that she was going to die.
She was only twenty-three years old. She had graduated college last year after a two year photography program, but had yet to find a permanent job with her profession. She knew she had a lot of competition but she loved photography so much she had hoped something would come out of getting a degree. Unfortunately, nothing had so far. At least, nothing substantial that she could rely on to get her out of her parent’s house. Luckily, her parents didn’t mind her living with them, they didn’t even charge her rent. They understood that sometimes it took some people longer than others to get on their feet. Especially with Celeste, because she was an introvert, and sometimes it seemed employers only wanted extroverts. They usually dismissed her and never hired her after interviews, probably because they were disappointed in how quiet and awkward she was, even when she tried to fake her way through it.
Celeste was not only having problems on the job front, but relationship and friendship problems as well. Her ex-boyfriend, Brad, had cheated on her just a few weeks back, and was now in a relationship with the girl he had cheated on Celeste with. Celeste had only found out through Facebook messages between the two of them when Brad had left Facebook open on his computer. He’d confessed that he’d been seeing the girl, Holly, who also happened to be an ex of his from years back, for a few months. He’d been dating Celeste for two years, and had been loyal to her during that time, at least until Holly had come back into the picture.
Now, he was back with Holly, and each time they posted a photo of them together, it broke Celeste’s heart a little more. She hadn’t tried to contact Brad since finding out about his infidelity, but of course she missed him and the good times they had had. She’d been convinced that he had been the one she was going to be with. They had even talked about getting engaged and married, and (now Celeste knew), even while Brad had been sleeping with his ex behind Celeste’s back.
Celeste felt physical pain in her heart as she thought of how happy Brad looked in the photos now that him and Holly were officially back together. It made Celeste feel as though Brad hadn’t really loved her, at least not like he’d claimed he did. Maybe he had loved her, for a while. Then, him and Holly had reconnected, and he must have started falling out of love with Celeste during that time. At least, that was what she guessed.
Not only that, but her former best friends from high school, Natalie and Brianna, were constantly harassing her online, especially on the social media websites, Facebook and Twitter. Even blocking them didn’t seem to work, they would always find some way to instant message her or make public posts to her or about her. Sometimes they even went so far as to make fake accounts once she blocked their original accounts. They called her mean names like whore and slut, and said that she was crazy and immature. They even blamed her for Brad’s infidelity, saying that he’d likely cheated on her because he was tired of hearing her talk about suicide every five seconds to him. Which, was not true at all, but Natalie and Brianna liked to stir things up with her. Ever since their falling out a few years ago, they just couldn’t seem to let it go.
But somehow, they managed to make themselves look like the victims, especially when Celeste had tried to stand up for herself. They blamed Celeste for the friendships ending, saying that she had just thrown them out of her life one day for no reason, which again was not true. If she called them one mean name out of frustration or self-defense, they fired back with ten mean names, and it just seemed like a never-ending cycle. They even got people she didn’t know hating on her as well.
Sure, she could delete her accounts and not go on the websites again. But she liked going on it. She liked following celebrities and interacting with her few friends on there. She had just as much of a right to be on there as Natalie and Brianna did. And if she deleted her Facebook because of them, they would just see it as a victory.
Much like how they would see her suicide. They would see it as a victory. That, thanks to them, Celeste Minton was no more.
Oh, of course they would play the role of “grieving friends”. They would probably say, “We were bffs back in the day, so sad, she should have gotten help” and try to get people to feel sorry for them that they had lost a “friend”.
But, none of that would matter once Celeste was dead. She wouldn’t have to worry about heartbreak, the petty drama, the constant name-calling, her loser life. She hadn’t amounted to anything in her twenty-three years, what made her think that things would look up at all for her anytime soon?
She wouldn’t have to worry about the unexpected emotional pain. Sometimes, depression would creep up even when she wasn’t having a bad day. It would catch her off guard. She would be doing something as normal, then all of a sudden her mood would shift. It didn’t take long for her thoughts about everyday life to shift to thoughts of why her everyday life was so pathetic. Why she didn’t deserve to be alive. Why she should hurt herself.
After a while of fighting the dark thoughts, sometimes she would come out unscathed and be able to continue as normal, but other times she wasn’t so lucky.
During those times she wasn’t so lucky, and the thoughts became too much of a torment and wouldn’t go away, she would light a candle, then find a pair of scissors. She’d hold the metal blade of the scissors over the flame to heat up the metal, then hold it against her skin until the searing pain formed a blister. It seemed to momentarily relieve her of her stress, however it was like alcohol – would only help her forget for a while, before memories and moods flooded her relentlessly again.
She had been burning herself for a few years now. At first, she’d tried cutting, but found she didn’t like the sight of too much blood, and couldn’t bring herself to slice her arm. Burning was easier, at least in her opinion. And the pain seemed to last longer, due to the blister that would show up after. She had about seven scars up her forearm, and tried to keep them covered as much as possible. In the summer she wore light, long-sleeve shirts or light cardigans instead of t-shirts or tank tops. If she went to the beach, she would wear a shirt or old cardigan over her bathing suit. No one questioned her, they just assumed it was her style or that she was too shy to show off her body.
Celeste just rolled her eyes at her wayward thoughts. How petty, how trivial all this seemed now that she was about to end her life. None of it mattered. Not even Brad’s infidelity, or Natalie and Brianna’s bullying, or her own dark thoughts about herself. Who really cared, when everyone was going to die at some point, anyway? She might as well just get it over with now.
She reached her destination, the middle span of the West Bridge overlooking Coldstone Harbour. The bridge was about a hundred feet high, the harbour maybe thirty feet deep at this part. A fall from this height would definitely kill her.
She was feeling a bit nervous, now that the moment had come. She had left a suicide note for her parents, which they would probably be discovering at any time since they both woke up soon. Checking her watch, she saw that it was seven AM. West Bridge was fairly busy with the morning rush hour traffic, but no one was paying her any mind. They were just concentrating on getting to work.
She saw a few pedestrians like herself, also on their way to work. But, there weren’t many pedestrians in Coldstone. There was a good transit system, plus a lot of people had cars, so transportation options weren’t limited. Probably no one would pay attention when she pushed herself up and over the edge of the four-foot railing that separated her from the water.
Now, though, she stopped walking, and turned to face the wide harbour, letting the breeze blow her chestnut-coloured hair from her face. Her green eyes took in the scenery, as this would be the last sight she would see as she was falling to her death.
Taking her cell phone out of her pocket, her numb fingers fumbled with it and almost dropped it into the water but managed to catch it. She was going to die, but she wanted to leave some piece of her behind. Not that anything interesting was on her cell phone anyway. After sending her final messages to her parents and Heidi, she set it on the ground beside one of the poles of the railing.
Grabbing onto the top railing, she easily pulled herself up and over so that she was sitting on the edge now, nothing between her and the water below.
There were a few people around, but no one stopped. Some gazed at her curiously, but she didn’t show signs of being in distress – yet. No one would know what she was up to until she let go and by then it would be too late.
The metal railing was freezing against her hands. People were probably wondering why she didn’t have gloves or a hat on, and was only wearing a thin coat. She had decided on this outfit because it would mean that she would probably freeze to death in the water quicker, if she didn’t die immediately from the fall.
She almost let go due to the cold and her frozen hands but held on a while longer. She breathed the fresh air and leaned out slightly. Goodbye, world, was her last thought before she closed her eyes -
A voice startled her, and at first she thought that a passerby was addressing someone else. Opening her eyes, she leaned back into a comfortable seated position and gazed behind her at the young man who was openly staring at her. He had stopped and walked up to her while her eyes had been closed. She guessed he was around her age, give or take a few years.
“What are you doing up there? It’s cold and your hands must be freezing.” He gestured to her bare hands clinging onto the metal railing.
She shrugged. “Just enjoying the view.” Her voice came out sad and quiet rather than casual like she’d hoped.
“No, I think there’s something more than that going on. No one our age enjoys views at -” he checked his watch, “- seven AM in the bitter cold. Especially wearing as little as you are for this type of weather. If you were just out sightseeing, I think you would have put on a little more.”
Celeste saw that he was wearing what appeared to be a heavy, black winter coat, as well as thin gloves and a toque. She could make an excuse, saying she was poor and couldn’t afford nice things. But something in his hazel eyes told her that she could trust him. He had stopped, he obviously thought something suspicious was going on.
When she didn’t answer, he went on. “I think you are trying to jump from there. I’m not sure your intentions, but you probably won’t survive if you’re just looking for a thrill. That’s quite a fall and the harbour is not very deep, plus it’s probably freezing, too.”
“Why don’t you just be on your way and stop getting into everyone’s business?” Celeste snapped. She felt bad for being rude. She just wasn’t in the mood for sympathy or pity. If he hadn’t stopped her, she’d be dead by now.
He held his hands up. “Calm down. I don’t know what’s happened in your life, but there has got to be a better solution than this.”
Celeste shook her head defiantly, her brown hair whipping around her face, her green eyes blazing. “I don’t think so. I’m done trying to be someone I’m not to impress people. I’m done dealing with cheaters, liars, bullies, being made like I’m the bad person. I’m done having no one understand me.”
“That’s life. It happens. Believe me, I’ve been through it all. Even been in the same position you are now.” He lowered his hands, then reached out one towards her. “Please come down so we can talk about whatever’s bothering you. You know, they interviewed people who jumped off of one of the tallest bridges around here, and survived. The people who jumped, said that halfway down, they regretted it, which is why survival mode kicked in and they managed to land in a way that didn’t immediately kill them. I don’t want that to happen to you.”
Celeste nodded; she’d seen the same show. “Yes, I know. But I won’t regret it. I’m useless anyway.” She sighed sadly, looking at his hand. Something inside her suddenly switched. He was offering his hand to help her, but the voices were telling her to just ignore him and jump. “Shouldn’t you be going somewhere anyway? Why are you here at seven in the morning?” She tried to distract him from the situation.
He wasn’t falling for it. “I was on my way to work. But this is more important.” He kept his hand outstretched.
Celeste could tell he wasn’t giving up easily. She also didn’t want him to witness her death, it would be traumatic for him. Plus, they were drawing attention. More people were looking at her, some whispering and pointing as they passed. “Okay. I’m coming down.” Celeste turned slowly, reluctantly, avoiding the stares and whispers as she reached for his hand, lifting her legs up over the rail so that she was now back to facing the traffic.
“Nothing to see here, people.” The young man shooed away anyone who had cared to stop and watch. People got bored and went on their ways. Celeste was still sitting on the railing. He released her hand, came closer and put both of his hands on her waist, though she could easily jump down. She started to protest, but he lifted her up off the railing and set her down on the ground.
Her legs started to shake as she touched the concrete again and the adrenaline rush wore off. The young man held her for a moment longer at arm’s length. “Are you okay? Can you walk?” he asked, nothing but concern in his eyes. He didn’t appear to be judgmental at all.
“I-I don’t know...” she whispered, suddenly feeling faint. She could see inkblots at the edges of her vision. She staggered a bit, and he kept his hands on her waist.
“You’re probably a bit shaky from the adrenaline rush. Just stand here for a minute and you’ll be fine. Do you want me to call an ambulance, or your parents?”
“Just...my parents...I left them a suicide note. They’re probably flipping out, trying to call my cell phone...” Celeste gestured to the phone which she’d placed on the ground before her attempt.
“If I let you go for a second, will you jump?” He stared at her, as if pleading her not to.
Celeste shook her head. The bravado and will to jump was gone. At least, for now. There was always another day. Perhaps she’d have to pick a more private location next time. “I-I’m okay,” she assured him.
He released her and bent down to retrieve her phone. He handed it to her, and she saw several missed calls and voicemails left in the past few minutes. “I’d say they are worried, you’d better call before they lose their heads...” he advised her. “I’ll wait here.”
Celeste took her phone and dialed her mom’s number, the first one that was up on the screen.
Her mother answered on the first ring. “Celeste! Thank God. What the hell were you thinking? Where the hell are you? I was so scared when you didn’t pick up...”
“Mom...I’m okay. I’m at West Bridge. I’m with a guy...” Celeste gazed at him for a moment, and he said his name quietly, “I’m Lucas.”
“...I’m with Lucas,” Celeste continued. “He saw me in distress and stopped me.”
“Thank the Lord for Lucas. Okay, Celeste, I’m sending your father off to work now that we know you’re okay. I’ll be there in fifteen. Can Lucas stay with you until I arrive? I want to make sure that you don’t try anything.”
Celeste look at Lucas. “My mom wants to know if you can stay with me for another fifteen minutes until she gets here?”
“Yeah, I can. I’m supposed to be at work, but it’s fine. This is more important.” Lucas shrugged. “Though, tell her that it’s kind of cold out here, and we can cross the bridge to the south side and head to one of the restaurants there.”
Celeste felt bad that he was missing work because of her, but she relayed the message to her mother, who agreed. They picked a place to meet and Celeste hung up her phone, putting it in her pocket. By now, her hands were so frozen that her fingertips were turning blue. Lucas noticed this and took off his gloves.
“Here,” he handed his gloves to her. “My hands are fine, it’s not too far of a walk to the restaurant. I don’t want you to get frostbite and lose the tips of your fingers.”
Celeste gave him a small smile as she took his gloves and put them on, rubbing her hands together for added warmth. “Thank you. I feel bad, you’re missing work.”
“I’ll call them and tell them I woke up sick but maybe I can come in later. But first, we should start walking and get some blood flowing in you.” Lucas took her arm and they turned around to head to South Coldstone. Celeste had come from North Coldstone, which was where she lived.
“My name is Celeste, by the way,” Celeste told him, realizing she hadn’t said her name yet. “Sorry I didn’t introduce myself sooner.”
“It’s nice to meet you. As I told you before, I’m Lucas.” He smiled at her. “Though I wish we could have met in better circumstances.”
“Do you live in South Coldstone?” Celeste asked.
“No, I live in the north end. I work in the south end. I usually drive, but sometimes if I feel I need the exercise I’ll walk. It’s not too far to walk, about a half hour. Apparently, today was one of those days. I just felt energized when I woke up, for some reason. It was an odd feeling...like something was going to happen to me today.” Lucas shrugged. “But whatever it was, I’m glad I decided to walk.”
“Yeah, me too. Thank you, by the way.” Celeste sighed, seeing her breath in the air as she exhaled.
“Do you mind me asking what was so bad in your life that you felt you had to do that? Family troubles? Boyfriend? Bullying? I don’t want to pry since we just met, but you can tell me what you are comfortable with.” Lucas gave her an encouraging smile.
Celeste decided to tell him the basics. “Well, my family is fine. My parents are still together and I get along with both of them, they don’t fight either. My ex of two years cheated on me a few weeks ago. Two former friends won’t stop bullying me online. That’s the gist of it. But, that’s just what’s happened recently. There’s been other things throughout the years that have dragged me into depression and suicidal thoughts. It started in high school, which was five years ago for me.”
Lucas looked surprised. “Five years ago? Have you been in college yet? How old are you?”
“Yeah, I graduated college last year. I’m twenty-three. You?”
“Twenty-four. I graduated college last year, too, but a different one probably. I took mechanics. What about you?”
They continued to make small talk until they reached the restaurant. Celeste found that her hands were warming up in Lucas’ gloves. The blood started flowing back to them, causing them to tingle. Her nose and cheeks were also warming up again after being exposed to the cold.
They reached the restaurant in about ten minutes, and stepped inside to wait for her mother. They weren’t going to order food, they didn’t have time.
“So, once you leave, I’ll call work and tell them I’m on my way. It’s almost seven-thirty, my shift starts at eight but they expect me there a half hour early to get the store ready,” Lucas explained.
“Oh, where do you work?” Celeste asked, looking out the window to make sure she didn’t miss her mother.
“Morrison Wholesales. I’m a cashier plus sometimes I stock shelves or just go on the floor to help people. I work through the week, having the weekends off. It’s usually 7:30 – 4 that I work, and we have a half hour lunch at 12.” Lucas shrugged. “It’s okay. I would rather be doing mechanics, but this pays for my apartment for now.”
Celeste nodded. “Oh, okay. I don’t have a job right now, but I want to be noticed as a photographer. It’s hard though. So much competition.”
“Yeah, true. I’d like to see some of your photos sometime.”
Celeste nodded. “Yeah, I have a Facebook page if you want to add me there? I usually post my photos there.”
“Okay, I will look you up.”
A familiar black car then pulled into the parking lot. “Oh, that’s my mom. Her name’s Sherry, by the way.” Celeste pointed the car out to Lucas, then they left the restaurant to go out and greet her. On leaving, Celeste gave Lucas his gloves back. Her fingers were mostly warmed up, save for a bit of tingling, still.
“Celeste!” Her mom exclaimed once she got out of the car. Celeste ran to her mother and hugged her, feeling the urge to cry.
“Mom, I’m sorry...”
“Shh. We’ll talk later. Is this Lucas?”
Celeste looked back at Lucas, who was behind her. “Yeah, that’s him.”
“Nice to meet you, Lucas. Thank you so much.” Celeste’s mother reached out to shake his hand.
Celeste released her mother and turned to Lucas. “Yes, thank you.”
“Would you mind if I got your phone number? I’d like to keep in contact to see how you’re doing.” Lucas smiled.
“Sure,” Celeste agreed.
They exchanged numbers, then Celeste gave him one last hug before they parted and Lucas headed off to work, which he assured her was only a few minute’s walk away though her mother offered to drive him. Celeste watched him go, wondering when, or if, she would see him again, then got into her mother’s car, and headed home.