Home Stories Poems Site Reviews Writing Tips Charlie Fish
FICTION on the WEB short stories by Charlie Fish

by M. Castelli

View or add comments on this story

"Today’s the day I’m going to do it. No more just thinking about it. No more planning how. I know how and I’m going to get this thing done and over with. I can’t take this anymore. Too much suffering. Too much pain. I just want the pain to go away. This will take all the pain away. Yes, today is the day I end this nightmare I call life," she said, staring at her reflection in the large white wood framed mirror which hung over the sink.

She snatched up a lipstick container off of the light blue porcelain bathroom sink and brought it to her lips, stopping just inches from her mouth. "What for?" She said, and laughed. She leaned in closer to the mirror, hips pressed tightly against the cool shiny porcelain. She was a beautiful girl, everyone thought so. Long curly hair, the color of summer straw, flowed smoothly to just below her elbows. Blue eyes that seemed to jump off her face stared back at her. Her image began to turn blurry from the tears that were filling her eyes. A single tear broke free and began a lazy decent down her cheek, stopping briefly at the end of her chin before losing its grip and tumbling into the drain. She wiped her eyes with the back of her hands and images of her mother flashed before her. This caused a burst of tears to flood through her eyes again. Like a basin that had been stopped up, her tears had no where else to go and she began to sob. She started to turn away from her reflection, then turning back, she picked up the lipstick and meticulously painted her lips. She leaned into the mirror with her face and planted a kiss on her reflection. "Good-bye," she said. As she left the bathroom she tossed the Crimson Queen lipstick tube into the wastebasket.

Walking out of the two car garage towards her 1998 Camry, she noticed Mrs. Benson strolling past the house.

"Hi Milicent," said Mrs. Benson, waving her hand in a lazy semi-circle. Reaching for the door handle, Milicent nodded and smiled in the direction of her next door neighbor.

"I always hated that bitch," she said, inserting the ignition key, forcing the car’s V6 into motion. The Toyota roared into life and she reached for the radio volume knob as heavy metal music saturated the Camry’s interior. Knocking down the volume a few hundred decibels she pushed in a Nirvana tape. As she pulled the stick shift into reverse she briefly thought of gunning the engine, imagining Mrs. Benson falling way to the rear bumper. She could see the horrified look on her face as she fell to the pavement. Her skull shattering and spilling blood onto the freshly sealed driveway.

‘Boy would dad be pissed about that,’ she thought. Glancing into the rear view and seeing Mrs. Benson fading to the right, she eased off of the brake and the light green four door began rolling down the fifteen foot wide driveway on its way to East Chester street.

She looked right then left on her way towards destiny, noticing the rows of homes along the way. "This is good-bye neighborhood. So long. See you all on the other side of life." A quick moment of sanity shot through her mind, like a streak of lightning, and she thought of stopping herself, then it was gone.

Continuing up this familiar street she began to feel relaxed and she knew the five anti-anxiety producing Ativans Doc. Bailey had prescribed for her were entering her blood stream and invading the cells of her brain. Of course Doc. Bailey had given clear instructions to only take one every six hours- as needed. Five at one time was ‘not advisable,’ as she envisioned the good ol' Doc. saying to her if he knew. He was stodgy and uncaring. He was cold and impersonal and she disliked him immensely.

When her mother died in a fiery car crash not five miles from this street, the stoic doctor, who had been the family physician for as long as Milicent could remember, simply said that ‘time will heal this, be patient.’ "That cold stupid fuck," she said out loud, stepping on the accelerator, fearing she might pass out from the effects of the drug before she could complete her mission.

"Where is she going," said Milicent’s father Daniel Brackmon, as he pulled into the empty driveway. An uneasy feeling came over him. It felt almost as if some one or some thing was trying to get his attention but he wasn’t listening. He had other things on his mind. His car dealership was faltering and it would not be long before his creditors would force him to file for bankruptcy.

He entered the house and made his way through the living room and into the kitchen. The restless feeling persisted and he felt a light tap on his shoulder. Turning, he saw no one. The ambiguous feeling reached its pinnacle with the sight of a note held to the refrigerator door by a small plastic magnet in the shape of a red juicy strawberry. He snatched the chit from the magnet’s grip with such quickness that the berry went flying to the floor, disappearing under the kitchen table.

"Dear Dad,
    First let me say that I love you. I know you have tried to help me and for that I will be eternally grateful (so to speak). I know I have not tried to help myself and to accept the help of others for my problem. I really don’t think anyone could have helped me anyway. I miss her too much, dad. I know now only one thing will help me. Only one thing left to do. I must end this torment that is my life. Please don’t cry for me. And please don’t ever think this was your fault. What I will do is of my own choice. Say good-bye to everyone for me dad.
    Again I love you, dad. Maybe we will all meet up again in the future. Who really knows.
    Love, your daughter always, Milicent
P.S. Say good-bye to Muffy for me. She was nowhere in sight when I left."

He crumbled up the paper into his fist and began to cry. "Where? Where would she go?" He asked himself, putting the back of his wrist to his forehead and leaning against the refrigerator.

Then it came to him, like the name of a movie he had forgotten, suddenly, it blew from the back of his mind to the front and begged attention. "The bridge. She’s going to jump off the bridge. Oh my good God." He crammed the crumpled suicide note into his front pocket and ran to the driveway. Hopping into his ‘99 Ford Ranger he slammed the the stick into reverse and ripped down the drive, causing the rear tires to let out a high pitched squeal as they bit into the hot blacktop. He hoped nothing or no one was behind him as he swung the nose of the Ford passed the rear and pointed it north. He pushed the gas pedal forward and raced up the busy street. While doing so he pushed down the emergency flasher button causing the blinkers and tail lights to turn on, then off, in a rhythmic pattern.

Rounding a gentle curve in the road just past Hemlock Street he noticed he was nearly doing twenty miles per hour over the posted thirty mph zone. Up ahead and coming in the opposite direction was a Town of Ulster police cruiser. "Shit," he said, and instead of slowing he pressed the pedal further towards the floor. The dark haired mustachioed officer looked bewildered as he passed by Daniel Brackmon’s speeding vehicle. ‘Must be drunk,’ Thought the officer as he flipped on the lights and siren. He did a quick U-turn in the middle of the street and sped after the Ford, calling it in on his police radio.

"Just what I need now," Daniel said, glancing into the rearview mirror. His eyes returned to the road just in time to swerve left, thus avoiding Marge Zimmerman’s ‘88 Cadillac. Marge, at 79 years young was a careful driver. Never did over the speed limit since picking up the driving duties from Ralph, her husband of 55 years, after Ralph’s Parkinson’s prevented him from, among many other things in life, driving. As a matter of fact ol' Marge rarely ever even came close to approaching the speed limit on any road.

Daniel nearly lost control of the truck as the rear tires caught hold of some loose gravel on the shoulder of the opposite lane, causing the back end to slide momentarily and send a large plume of dust high into the air. The marl drifted westward and spread itself evenly upon Bob Stevenson’s front porch. Thankfully, he wasn’t sitting in his wicker rocker as he was prone to do at this hour of the day. "Get the hell out of my way, Marge," Daniel yelled at the crawling Caddy, as he regained control and sped by. Immediately Marge hit the brake and pulled to the side. "Good Goddamned thing," Daniel screamed, believing she had pulled over for him and not for the siren wailing, light flashing police car gaining ground on the both of them.

He was coming close to the intersection of East Chester and Flatbush and hoped the light would be green when he made the right turn, one mile from the bridge. It was, and he pumped the break twice before cranking the wheel hard to the right. The action caused the truck to skip onto Flatbush Avenue and Daniel could feel the passenger side rise briefly before the truck’s wheels came back down, remaking contact with the road’s surface. The fat tires made a muted honking sound as they slid towards the yellow line which divided Flatbush neatly in two. Strangely enough the noise they were making reminded Daniel of an angry mother goose protecting its goslings.

The cruiser was in view now and Daniel had visions of the cop easing up along side of him and forcing him off the road, then his hopes of catching his daughter before she jumped would be thwarted. He slammed his foot to the Ford’s floorboard and the engine kicked into high gear. Another traffic light up ahead was just turning to yellow.

He steered the truck slightly to the left and blew by three cars that were slowing for the upcoming red light. He didn’t take time to notice if they were angry with him for doing so. He could imagine that they were. A large tractor trailer was pulling out into the intersection an Daniel could hear the honking of horns mixing in with the high pitched siren of the cruiser. The melding of sounds, under other circumstances, could have been mistaken for some new wave of Techno music.

Speeding through the intersection his thoughts turned to his daughter. ‘Please God, don’t let me be too late. I need her. Please don’t let this happen.’

The beefed up Chevy police cruiser was just off the rear bumper of the Ford. Daniel mashed the gas pedal down in hopes of squeezing a little more speed from the engine’s already taxed six cylinders, which churned away under the heated hood. ‘Maybe he realizes I’m headed to an emergency,’ Daniel thought, as he looked down at the dash reassuring himself that the flashers were indeed activated.

He reached the bridge’s approach lane and slowed to a speed lower than he had driven in the past few minutes. "Fuck," he said, as the truck tried to make the tight right turn. The ass end banged off a guard rail at the far end of the lane and Daniel quickly calculated the unseen damage to the truck bed to be well over a thousand dollars.

Taking a fast peek in the mirror he saw the police officer had made the same driving error as him. The cruiser bounced off of the rail in almost the same spot as the Ranger.

"Please Lord don’t let me be too late." he said to himself as he approached the toll both, which guarded passage across the Hudson river to the small Duchess County town of Rhinecliff.

Milicent stopped just as the bridge divided itself from Ulster county to Dutchess County. "I wonder which County they’ll bring my body," she asked herself, eying the large green and white sign which welcomed drivers into the northern New York County of Dutchess. 'Doesn’t really matter,’ she thought to herself as she threw the car into park. Motorists sped by without giving Milicent a second look. It was illegal to stop on the bridge unless for an emergency such as car trouble ‘or to commit suicide,’ she thought.

She rounded the front end of the Camry running her right hand lightly across the hood as she walked to the silver metal bridge railing. "Wow, what a view," she said outloud, turning three hundred sixty degrees and taking in the panoramic landscape.

The Catskill mountains took up nearly a quarter of the skyline and for the first time in a long while she took a few seconds to take in their beauty. Rising high above the ground they beckoned recognition. Their pulchritude caused her to gasp and she briefly thought about climbing back into the car, hanging a tight U-turn and heading back home to the note on the refrigerator before her dad came home. But she knew the pain would never end until her life did. So she turned to the railing and looked down. The sedating medicine along with the sight of the nearly one hundred and fifty foot drop to the cool water below caused her to sway a little from lightheadedness. She lifted her right leg then her left up and over the railing and placed her feet firmly on the narrow edge below. Holding on to the railing behind her with both hands, her heart began to race as if she had just completed a running marathon. The wind swirled and gusted at her frail body nearly forcing loose the tight grip she had on the thick steel rail.

She stood there attempting to supplicate enough courage to lean forward and let loose of the vice like grip she maintained, which would allow herself to float out, then down. Then in a matter of seconds it would all end, mercifully. The cars continued by her unnoticing, or perhaps and more likely, uncaring. ‘They probably think I’m supposed to be here. Like I'm here doing bridge repair work or something,’ she thought. ‘Little do they know the bridge is here to repair me.’

She thought she had just about summoned the needed courage when the sound of a horn caused her to snap her head back to the road. Before she ever got sight of the Ranger she knew it would belong to her father. "How did he get here?" She said out loud.

The Ford’s brakes bit into the road surface and came to a halt just behind the Camry. Daniel Brackmon exited the vehicle before it actually stopped its forward motion, causing him to stumble and nearly lose his balance. ‘ Great,’ he thought, ‘the officer will surely try to arrest me for DWI after seeing that."

He ran to the railing calling out his daughter’s name all the way. "Milicent, honey, please don’t. Let’s talk this over. Wait," he yelled and raced towards her. He knew she was not listening and could see her slacken her grip just a bit.

"I love you daddy," she said letting go with her left hand, then her right. Without stopping stride Daniel propelled his body in her direction. His legs left the pavement as if being catapulted off of a stuntman’s air ramp. His body was completely off of the ground now as Milicent’s began to fall slowly away from the steel railing. Her feet were the last to lose contact with the cement surface of the bridge. Her toppling reminded him of a tree he and his uncle Charles had cut down after it had been struck by lightening, leaving the large maple mortally wounded.

He knew what was coming. There was no escaping it. He had committed himself in the name of love for his daughter. His body hurtled over the railing and his outstretched arms made contact with Milicent’s shoulders. "Oh daddy, I’m scared," is what he heard as his long fingers grasped hold of her thin white tee shirt. The two of them began a rapid descent towards the river’s surface. They rolled over one another like parachutists attempting a complicated jump. Daniel imagined what the police officer would be thinking as he watched two people leap from the bridge. ‘Damn double suicide. Strangest thing I ever saw.’

Daniel could see directly into his daughter’s eyes as they plummeted. They were wide with terror. And for the first time in his forty five years Daniel knew what it meant when people close to death, yet lucky enough to escape it, said their lives flashed before them. Memories of his childhood bolted through his mind, quickly changing from one event to another, never stopping long enough for him to dwell upon. His Autobiography in an instant, stopped briefly when the chapter devoted to his wife uncovered itself. He and the former Elizabeth McShane were married over twenty years ago, had one child; the now falling to her death Milicent, and had led a relatively pain free and happy existence, until the accident.

The accident had changed everything. Peace and tranquility, love and happiness, were transformed into pain, suffering and worst of all, the distancing which slowly came between him and his daughter.

‘One year ago tomorrow,’ he thought, It will be one year tomorrow that a drunk, fifty two year old man, twice convicted of DWI, would slam his Dodge Dakota head on into his wife’s Toyota with such force it had sent her head first through the front windshield of the small car. Her air born body would travel over twenty yards before slamming against a six foot thick maple, killing her instantly.

She was on her way home from an afternoon of shopping in nearby Poughkeepsie, after dropping off her long time girlfriend Eileen Wilson at Eileen’s Stone Ridge home. The two had gone through public school together. From the first grade on, all the way through high school, they had always remained friends. Even after Elizabeth had gone away to the University of Hartford and the two had gone in separate directions; Eileen had chosen a small college in northern Vermont in order to study law; Elizabeth choosing to obtain her Bachelor’s degree in Education, they maintained their unique friendship through letters and rare trips home.

Traveling east on route 209, minding her own business, thinking of her family when wham; lights out, game over.

The young resident at the Kingston Hospital Emergency Department had tried to comfort him by saying he was sure she didn’t suffer.

‘How the fuck would you know that, you little snot nosed intern. I have bunions older than you. What the hell do you know?’

Identifying her body will always be in his memory (‘but not for much longer,’ he thought). She was barely recognizable. The impact with the tree had all but sheared her face off. It was as if someone had dragged a giant wood planer down her face, not once, but several times. His eyes averted the formerly beautiful, flawless face and his gaze rested on one of the gold hoops that dangled from her ears. Their once brilliant sheen had been dulled by the dried blood which clung to the precious metal.

He felt a swell in his gut and without warning spewed the contents of his stomach, covering the shiny emergency room floor. Doctors, nurses and the two paramedics which had responded to the 911 call, scattered in different directions as the bile splattered everywhere. ‘Sure know how to clear a room Daniel,’ he remembered thinking. A lovely caring nurse, he thought her name was Dawn, had brought him an emesis basin and several warm washcloths.

He remembered trying to compose himself. In another circumstance he knew he would have been extremely embarrassed over having Ralphed like that. But now, grief, anger, and the extreme sense of helplessness had overtaken him with such strength he knew he would never be able to fully escape it.

After leaving his dead wife he remembered thanking everyone for their help. These people deal with death every day, yet they all seemed nervous and at a loss for words when speaking to him. The young paramedic named Frank offered to ride Daniel home. He politely refused and walked out through the two sets of automatic doors and into the rest of his life without his beloved Elizabeth. He managed to make the nearly two hundred foot walk to his truck, get in and close the heavy door, before he screamed his wife’s name at the top of his lungs. He sat there staring out the front of the truck with tears rolling down his cheeks in endless uninterrupted streams for nearly thirty minutes.

He thought of what he would say to his daughter but no words sounded right: "Your mom is dead, Milicent. I’m sorry dear but your mom has been in an accident. Sit down honey I have something to tell you. A fucking drunk driver, who blew over twice the legal limit, just killed your mother." ‘Oh god. What am I going to say to her?’ He thought, and then began to beat the steering wheel furiously with his closed fists.

He remembered driving around the city, aimlessly, barely able to focus on the road through his tear filled eyes. Suicide became a cursory option. It leaped into his thoughts as if forced upon him. "End it all now and maybe we’ll be together," he said to himself. But he knew he was incapable of such a selfish act. He had his daughter and she would need him now more than ever.

He drove for another twenty minutes until he was sure Milicent was back from her excursion to the Mall. She and her best friend Michelle, along with several of their school mates, made it their weekly Friday afternoon-early evening ritual.

Dinner at the food court, some window shopping along with boy watching and then a movie, was the usual plan.

He spotted her car resting obediently in the driveway and a pit began to grow inside of his stomach. It felt more like a seed that had germinated and grew as if being fed with the fear, rage and sorrow medley that had engulfed Daniel’s body. He felt another abdominal convulsion was imminent but managed to successfully fend off its advances.

He turned off the truck’s engine and sat there with his hand on the ignition, unable to release it. ‘I can’t do this,’ he thought. ‘I can’t tell her her mother’s dead. ‘This isn’t how things are suppose to work.’ He laid his forehead against the steering wheel and began to cry again. He felt as though he might weep forever.

He struggled to compose himself and began the journey which would forever change his daughter’s outlook on life - and death. He tried to wipe the tears from his eyes as he walked to the front door. He knew it was a futile act because once he laid eyes upon his daughter the tears would again flow freely. He stopped briefly on the stoop and gazed up towards the sky. It was a clear sky, full of stars that shined and twinkled brightly. He thought of how beautiful that sky looked to him. He began to sob as he thought of his wife and how she would never again be able to take in this wonderful sight. He would never look at the night sky the same again.

He unlocked the front door and stepped inside. Milicent was sitting at the kitchen table enjoying a bowl of French vanilla ice cream and watching MTV with undivided attention. She hadn’t noticed her father making his way through the front door. Her interest was in Lenny Kravits and his music video, Are You Gonna Go My Way?

Closing the door, Daniel stood still and drew in a deep breath, letting it out slowly. He thought this might relax him, to compose himself enough to say the words. Words he thought he could not bring himself to say. He wanted to be strong. He wanted to cry. He wanted to go back in time and have all this be a nightmare that one wakes up from in a cold sweat and thanks god for it being just a dream. But this was no dream. This was real and he dreaded with all his being what he now had to do.

Entering the kitchen he put his hand upon his daughter’s back and massaged it, tracing small circles between her shoulders.

"Hi honey, whatcha watching?" He said in a choked voice which went undetected.

"Hi dad, nothing," came the reply. "Where have you been? Where’s mom? She still out with Eileen?" She maintained her gaze on Mr. Kravits and awaited a reply. When it didn’t come she turned to her father and immediately became panicked.

His face was tear soaked and when their eyes connected he could not speak. He began to sob uncontrollably. He didn’t want to breakdown like this. Not in front of his daughter but he could not help it. The tears and sobs were in control now. He was just a vehicle for their escape. It was as if he wasn’t even there, but rather looking at all this as a spectator watches a sporting event. Except this was no sporting event. This was a horror he never expected. And he really was not a spectator. He was a starting player who was failing miserably.

Milicent jumped up from the table, putting a hand to her mouth. "My god dad, what’s wrong?" She moved her hands to his shoulders, as a parent might do to a child who is refusing to answer a question, shaking him slightly between her firm grasp. Daniel hung his head low, unable to answer. Then as if the spell had lifted he drew on some inner strength he thought was not there and began to take control of his emotions. The sobbing slowed down like a car coming to a rolling stop at a stop sign, meaning to halt but not quite doing so. He knew it would not be long before the sobs increased again. His chance to talk would be now.

"Milicent, dear, there’s been an accident." He thought of all the television shows and movies in which he had heard similar words. ‘Couldn’t I think of better ones?’ He realized that maybe there were no better words for what he had to say and continued, "your mother was driving home from Eileen’s house when.... when....."

"When what dad? When what?" Now it was Milicent’s turn to be overtaken with tears and sobs for she knew what he was about to say. How could she not. He was crying uncontrollably. Milicent had only seen him cry once and that had been three years ago at his mother’s funeral. The crying then was reserved and barely noticeable. This was totally different. This was expressive and forceful. This was crying in which one had no control. This was bad, bad news and Milicent sensed he was about to tell her that her mother of sixteen years, her friend and confidant, the person she went to for her advice, was dead.

Daniel covered his mouth with the palm of one hand and closed his eyes, hoping to summon enough strength to go on.

"She’s dead Milicent, she’s dead. Oh my god, oh god," he grabbed the sides of his head with his palms as if just developing a major migraine. His grief escalated to a new level. It was as if it fed upon his fear and sadness. It began to drain his energy and then, without warning, his legs betrayed him and he fell to the floor, landing on his knees. Pain shot up both legs and lodged itself in his hips. He ignored it and struggled to his feet.

"Dad, please, you’re scaring me," she said and grabbed his strengthless hands. Tears invaded her eyes now and she began to cry. Her body shivered and shook as if she were in the throws of a mild seizure.

Daniel squeezed her hands and struggled to calm himself enough to carry on. Unable, he threw his arms around her and hugged her tightly. Her shaking lessened as her tears increased.

"Dad?" She said into his ear. "Dad? Please dad, talk to me. What happened?" She said and pushed him away to arms length. His eyes were puffy, as if he went a few rounds with a prize fighter. The once white sclera of them had turned a shade of pink which reminded her of a setting summer sun. His nose was draining and she reached down to the table, snatched a napkin from the wooden holder she had made for him over three years ago in her Science and Technology class. She wiped away the clear fluid and briefly felt as if their roles of parent and child had reversed.

He offered her a quick pained smile, taking the napkin from her and finishing the job. Her tears continued as he pulled away and struggled to the sink. He flipped the faucet lever upward and cool water began to flow. Reaching under the stream he splashed water upon his face. The act seemed to compose him and as he wiped away the wetness from his face, he spoke. "There was an accident, Milicent. On route 209, just past the college. A drunk driver hit her head on." He felt the sorrow and pain re-invade him and he mentally waged a war to halt its menacing advances. "She was...killed instantly," he said and buried his face into the small kitchen towel he was still holding. An image of the hospital intern flashing by.

He could hear her begin to scream and shout. "No! No! You’re lying daddy. How can you say something like that. She’s not dead. She can’t be." Panic spread across her face, covering it like spilled liquid on a table top.

He did battle again, holding back the army of tears and went to her. He grasped her shoulders firmly and looked into her bleary eyes. "I’m sorry honey. Oh my god, I’m sorry. We’ve lost her," he said and stared up at the ceiling. He half expected a vision from heaven to appear and guide them through all of this. When he was sure it would not come he looked back at his daughter. She was crying with such force that her body was going through recalcitrant jerking movements, making her shoulders rise and fall as if controlled by a marionette. And he thought he may have to bring her to the emergency room for sedation. A thought he quickly dismissed.

The two of them stood, locked in embrace for several minutes more when her crying began to slow.

In a calm almost surreal voice she said, "What are we going to do now? She was the most important person in our lives, daddy. How can we live without her?"

"I don’t know honey. But we’re gonna have to try." He felt a new found strength. He would have to be strong, for her.

The tears stopped and he turned his full attention to his distraught daughter. "I think I need to lay down," she said, and started for the stairs.

"Let me help you," he said.

"No. I’m all right. I can manage," she said, wiping tears from her eyes.

"Can I make you a cup of tea?" he said, "I’m gonna have some."

"No. No thanks dad, I couldn’t. I’ll be upstairs."


"Yes?" she said and stared back at him with vacant, listless eyes.

"I love you, honey. I love you so much," he said, fighting back another wave of tears.

She smiled weakly at him and then turned away.

The days that followed were more than difficult - they were excruciatingly painful. There were the funeral people to deal with, the newspaper had to print an obituary, friends and family had to be notified, arrangements were made. All the while a never ending supply of tears made their way from a constantly replenishing reservoir and rolled down Daniel’s cheeks.

Milicent remanded herself to her bedroom. She refused to speak to anyone and did not manage to make it to her mother’s funeral. She was beyond distraught and Daniel became so alarmed he finally called General Practitioner, Doctor Milton Bailey, the family physician. He, without hesitation made a rare house call. He examined Milicent and prescribed medication for her anxiety.

"She’s suffering from depression," he told Daniel. "Brought on by the death of her mother."

‘A, duh,’ Daniel had thought to himself.

"Time." he said, "she needs time. A traumatic experience such as this needs time to pass. When she’s ready she’ll deal with the pain. Just give her time," he said, before leaving.

Time did pass and three weeks after the death of her mother, her confidant and her friend, Milicent came down the stairs to the breakfast table with a new outlook. Her mood changed and she seemed happy. She was able to catch up on her school work and after three months Daniel began to feel the worst of it was behind them. She seemed cheery and content. Little did Daniel know it was all a front. Deep inside she was tortured. Her grief was kindling and soon it would explode into one giant fireball.

Doc. Bailey thought it a good idea to keep her on the Ativan. "It seems to be working," he had said, "let’s not mess with success."

Little did he know that the drug was just masking the bigger, more intense problem of severe depression. That depression would eventually reach such a level it would force her to attempt the ultimate act of desperation.

Snapping from the thoughts of the past his eyes were locked with his daughters. Still wide with terror she seemed to be looking to him for a sign of hope. Daniel realized through that visage Milicent new she had made a mistake. He could tell she wished to change the actions she had just made over the past two seconds. To take them back like a chess move you realize is wrong and retreat your piece in order to contemplate a better, safer move. It was far to late for that. He was sure as she looked at him, his eyes reflected the same sentiment.

He broke his gaze and glanced upward as the death roll continued towards a watery grave. The blue sky was replaced by the blue-green of the river, only to be supplanted again by the sky, as they tumbled. He felt they were perhaps involved in some sort of bizarre space experiment that might end with the two of them discussing their findings in front of a panel of space experts from NASA.

As they traveled through the air he could hear the wind ripping through the cuffs of his Chinos. Chinos his wife helped pick out two weeks before she died. The sound took him back to when he was ten and reminded him of playing cards he used to place in the spokes of his bicycle in order to get that - motorcycle sound.

‘How fast are we going? Fifty? Sixty? Eighty miles per hour?’ He had no idea. He never did anything like this before. And he was certain that he would never do anything like it again. He closed his eyes and prepared for impact.

Milicent was indeed wishing that she had made another choice. She realized this was not for her, that maybe she did have something to live for. ‘Too late for that. You screwed up big time. Not only are you going to die but now you’re responsible for the death of your father. Nice going selfish girl.’ She thought, as the speeding breeze rushed over her.

Her hair danced wildly about her head, sending strands of blond whipping across her face. The quick slaps of hair stung her skin but it went effectively unnoticed. Under other circumstances she would be letting out short yelps of pain and attempting to keep those ropes of hair from assaulting her. Right now it was a minor irritant. The bigger irritant lay fifty feet below.

Like her father, she had visions of her past sweep through her mind. Her mother popped to her first. She remembered her and the family vacations at the south Jersey shore. She felt a warm glow heat her body as she recalled the hot sandy beach she and her parents visited every August since she was five years old. She and her mother would take early morning strolls along the expansive boardwalk, as her father stayed behind in the motel and slept. They would walk for an hour each morning and talk about everything and anything that came up. As her age increased and she entered puberty the talks would be of boys, sex and school. She was a wealth of information. She never lectured her daughter. She gave her choices and let her make up her own mind. ‘She allowed me to make mistakes. She let me make my own decisions. She knew me better than anyone. I loved her so much. I miss her, oh god how I miss her.’

The day of the accident burst into her mind like an unwanted guest. She didn’t want it there, and she told it so, but it stayed anyway.

She recalled her mother kissing her good-bye and telling her to have a good day at school. That she would be out with her friend, Eileen, till about four or five that afternoon and that they would talk later. As she started out the door on her way to her homeroom class at the Kingston High School, her mother took her by the hand and slipped a twenty dollar bill into it. "Have a good time at the mall later," She recalled her saying. "And be careful."

'My god were those the last words my mother said to me’ She thought they were.

She flashed to that evening and coming home to an empty house. She thought it odd that neither one of her parents were home. But it wasn’t that unusual for her father to be working late at the car dealership. Her mom and Eileen probably decided to have dinner and take in a movie. She expected a note to be stuck to the fridge explaining their whereabouts or a message on the answering machine but there was neither. She never realized that at that very moment her father was identifying what was left of her once beautiful mother. How he agonized over her ravaged dead corpse. She remembered carrying on pretty much as usual: a bowl of ice cream and some music videos in the kitchen. ‘God, while I was at the mall my mom was killed and my father was already mourning her death.’

When she did hear her father come through the front door she was so wrapped up in the music she hardly realized he was there. She asked him where he had been and where her mother was. The sight of his tear stained face caused the ice cream to solidify in her stomach, forming a painful knot. She was overtaken with panic and dreaded taking the conversation any further than she already had. ‘Leave it at that. I’m going to bed, say good night to mom, see ya all at breakfast.’

That wouldn’t happen she realized as her father began to sob uncontrollably. She had never seen him so distraught. Her heart raced and a fear so strong she thought she could smell it filled her head. She felt sad for him as he struggled to tell her the words that would change both their lives forever.

She recollected the days and weeks after her mother’s death. The daily paper made the crash their top story: LOCAL WOMAN KILLED IN HEAD ON COLLISION.

Just after reading that head line is when she first contemplated suicide. The thought of living without her mother was unbearable. Her father, though loving and a great man, could not compare to her mother. While her father loved and cared for her deeply, it was her mother who made her life complete.

The loss she felt deep within her left a hole so large she knew it could never be filled. When her mother died, so did she. Reading the obituary was no picnic either, she remembered:

Elizabeth Brackmon of East Chester Street died Wednesday, June 23,1998, at the Kingston Hospital, the result of a car accident.
Born May 16, 1953, in Kingston, daughter of the late James and Marion Mcshane. She worked as a Special Educator, specializing in adaptive communications. Survivors include her husband, Daniel Brackmon and a daughter, Milicent Brackmon, both of Kingston.
Further funeral information will be announced by Simon-Lore Funeral Home, 233 West Crandel Ave. Kingston.

She kept the obituary, carefully cutting it out from the rest of the paper and folding it neatly in half. She stuck that sad compilation of words in the middle of a book of poems authored by a sixteen year old girl named Noel Sanders. The young Ms. Sanders had written a series of poems devoted to the love and admiration she felt for her parents. Most of those poems reminded Milicent of the relationship she and her mother had shared. They would be her only source of comfort after the death of her mother. But as much as she enjoyed reading them, they would eventually cause her great pain as they continually reminded her of the past. A past that had no hope for a future.

She recalled the day of the funeral. So stricken with grief, she was unable to leave the side of her bed, refusing to attend the service. Her father had made a feeble attempt at persuading her to accompany him but he was in no condition to argue with her, he was struggling with his own grief. He simply kissed her on the cheek, told her he loved her and that he understood. She was grateful for his empathy. "I just can’t face all those people,daddy." Is what she had told him. "Mom is dead and laying in a box and people will be crying and.... I just can’t face that. I can't."

"I don’t think I can either," he had said, sitting down beside her. "But I have to."

A pang of guilt racked her and she almost gave in and said she would go. Guilt was quickly replaced by sorrow and tears and she dismissed the idea that she could attend. "I’m sorry daddy. Please forgive me?" She asked of him, throwing a loose arm around his shoulder.

"No need to apologize Milicent. I understand." With that he kissed her and left for the funeral parlor, alone.

After he departed the tears began to exit their ducts like rain from an over saturated thunderhead. She sat in her room and cried for the rest of the day. Thoughts of her mother triggering major geysers of tears that she attempted to soak up with the box of tissues she clung to.

She recalled that the days following the funeral were hectic ones for her father. He had insurance policies to go through and cash in so that the funeral expenses would be paid . Most of the household book work was done and filed by Elizabeth and it would take him months to sort it all out and form his own system of paying the bills.

She remembered September and her first day back at the High School. People, some of them close friends, seemed to avoid her like a driver avoids a dead animal in the middle of the road; curious they were, but careful not to get too close.

She began to feel she was being isolated, though she knew it was mostly due to her becoming a recluse. Her friends, the true ones, stopped trying to talk with her after months of attempts to reach her. She refused to take phone calls and spent most of her time in her room reading that book of poems which seemed to be her only source of comfort. All else around her seemed fake and unreal. She began to believe she was not meant to be a part of all this, like she was supposed to be in some other world where things would be different for her. It was finally clear to her now, as she was falling towards her death, that she had been in the mighty grips of a deep depression.

‘Why couldn’t I see that before now?’ She thought, as she stared into her father’s eyes.

He returned the gaze with a wide eyed look of horror. The wind tossing his hair back and forth in such quick movements he looked like a projection from an old sixteen millimeter movie. His mouth opened in an effort to speak but no sounds would come forth. The end was quickly catching up to the both of them, hovering over their bodies as they fell, like a giant moth that would wrap them up in its wings and garrote the life out of their soon to be mangled bodies.

The speed at which they traveled through space seemed to pick up as the water neared. While in the midst of a roll Daniel got what would be his final look at the bridge above. He could make out the police officer’s form through wind blurred and tearing eyes. Another figure, a man he thought, joined the officer and peered at the plunging duo of death as if watching a pay for view special. He could almost hear him thinking he wished he had his camcorder. That this double suicide would make for good TV, perhaps even make him a few dollars.

The water came back into view now and his last thought was of his wife. In his mind she was smiling at him and he sensed he would see her soon. A wide smile crossed his face just as the deadly free fall came to an end. Daniel’s right side made contact with the water first. He felt an intense sear of pain, like he had been stabbed with a heated fireplace tool, as his shoulder separated from it’s socket. His face followed, smashing through the water with great force.

The impact felt like someone took one of his gardening shovels and swung it with all their might, making solid contact with his cheek and head. His ear ripped away from his head and slipped below the surface, seesawing its way to the silky river bottom. It would later become nourishment for some lucky aquatic animal. Ashes to ashes.

Two of his ribs alienated themselves from cartilage and punctured holes into his right lung, deflating it like a popped balloon. The last breath of air he took, the last he would ever take, gushed from his body like a slimy cherry pit squeezed between two fingers.

He was still conscious and he now new what it was like to be in the select company of death. It embraced him like an old friend and he felt himself embracing it back.

His hip followed and the bones that made up his pelvis splintered and shattered like a porcelain plate that had been dropped to the kitchen floor. This force caused his body to turn so that his back began to submerge. The unforgiving water, behaving more like concrete, pushed his head towards his chest. His chin was driven into his sternum with enough force to send a long sliver of a crack directly down it’s middle. One half second later his neck snapped. It was all over for Daniel Brackmon as his otherwise healthy heart refused to beat.

The two jump watchers peering over the bridge railing cringed at the sight of the huge splash they witnessed, as father and daughter hit the water simultaneously.

Officer Joseph Petrino, two years on the force, father of two small boys and married to his long time love, Carly, stood next to Wilfred Cummings, sixty-two, former IBMer, childless and a widower of three years. The two of them stared downward with mouths agape and shaking their heads in unison. To the uniformed motorists rolling by, they appeared to be keeping time with a song only the two of them were able to hear. They watched as the huge displacement of water signaled the ending of two lives, first Daniel’s, than moments later, his daughter Milicent’s.

Milicent saw the smile on her father’s face and it sent a shrill of cold to her scalp. ‘How could he be smiling?’ She thought and stretched out her arms forcing him away from her. This action caused her to turn slightly, making her back the first part of her body to embrace the water.

As she hit the surface, she became acutely aware of why her father had been smiling, for she smiled too. ‘It was mom. He saw her, as I am seeing her now.’

The vision of her mother came to her at the exact moment the water slapped her back with enough cruelty to crush every vertebrae from her neck to her tailbone, instantly paralyzing her. She felt no pain and the reverie of her mother continued to take her attention away from the ravaging of her body.

Her mother was standing on the beach, tan and beautiful. She was calling for her daughter to join her for a swim in the warm August water of the Atlantic. She motioned her closer as the waves behind her rose and fell with ferocity. Milicent became apprehensive as the waves increased, both in size and frequency. She followed though, because she had complete trust in her mother.

As her back dipped below the river’s surface her arms came slamming into the water snapping both of them like twigs of kindling. Her pelvis splintered, sending shards of pointy bone up into her abdomen causing her bladder to burst and send urine spilling into her abdominal cavity. A portion of large intestine was severed and it’s sordid dark contents exploded inside her.

She died in under a second, a smile still on her face.


The daily paper did indeed print the story as a double suicide. According to the official investigation, Daniel Brackmon and his daughter set up a not so elaborate scheme to commit suicide as a result of their being distraught over the death of Mrs. Brackmon. Although no suicide note was ever found after a thorough search of the Brackmon home, the lead investigator in the case could come up with no other explanation.

"This is a clear cut case of two people who, after losing a mother and a wife, lost all touch with themselves and those around them. Mr. Brackmon’s auto dealership had been in financial trouble long before his wife’s accident. His business was on the verge of bankruptcy. That, coupled with the tragic death of Mrs. Brackmon, is what we believe pushed him over the edge. As for his daughter it was no secret she was suffering from severe depression, unable to cope with the loss of a mother she was very close to. We understand she began to keep to herself. She alienated her friends and her school grades began to drop. From what we have learned she rarely came out of her room."

The paper went on to discuss the active roles the Brackmons played in the community; Mr. Brackmon having served on the school board for three years, while his wife was involved in many civic projects, including the funding drive for the city’s new library. On page sixteen, the story, written by Arthur Ryan, continued with an interview of Wilfred Cummings. "I never seen anything quite like it in my life," he had told the reporter. "I was driving over to Kingston from my home in Rhinebeck when I saw this green foreign job pull to the side. This young girl jumps out and climbs over the railing. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Then a black truck comes to a halt and this crazed looking guy jumps out and runs right over to the rail and jumps with her. Unbelievable. Craziest thing I ever did see. A shame it is, to lose a whole family like that in a years time. A damn shame. Here today gone tomorrow. Lights out, game over, end of story."

The local television station, WTYX channel 6, led off their evening news report by stating there was a double suicide today as two people jumped to thier deaths from the Kingston-Rhinecliff bridge.

"Good evening I’m Jim Norbert. A double suicide today has rocked the Kingston community, leaving friends and neighbors of the victims dumbfounded. Daniel Brackmon, forty-five, and his daughter, seventeen year old Milicent Brackmon, jumped to their deaths early this morning from the Kingston-Rhinecliff bridge which spans the Hudson River." Jim smiled his wide TV smile, trying but failing to incorporate a sense of sympathy into it.

"We take you now to Kelly Eldridge who is standing live, outside of the Brackmon home." Jim continued with his stage smile for a few seconds longer and the picture changed to a close up of reporter Kelly Eldridge.

"Thanks Jim," she said. "Sad news to report tonight from this usually quiet Kingston street." The camera man pulled back and a modest, white, two story wood framed home with an attached two car garage came into view.

The house was a buzz with activity. Ms. Eldridge turned from the camera and pointed to the front door of the house. "As you can see police our scouring the house, looking for clues as to why a father and daughter would take their own lives."

Jim’s voice followed hers. "Have they turned up anything yet Kelly? A note or an indication as to why they would both commit suicide?" Ms. Eldridge turned back to the camera. "So far they have been unable to turn up any sort of suicide note or information that would indicate the reason for their acts."

The camera moved to the left slightly as Ms. Eldridge continued, "We do have with us a neighbor of the Brackmons who just might have the answer." An elderly woman of seventy-five with all white puffy hair that had a slight trace of blue in it smiled brightly into the camera. She was holding a black and orange fluffy haired cat in her arms. "With me is Olive Benson, long time neighbor to the Brackmons. Mrs. Benson. What do you make of all this?" She asked and shoved a large microphone under her nose. Mrs. Benson jumped back slightly and said only, "Love." Ms. Eldridge, looking a bit surprised and disappointed, peered at the camera and then back at Olive Benson and repeated Olive’s one word answer in the form of a question.


"That’s right. Love. Those two lost both a mother and a wife little over a year ago. They never got over it. The daughter took it the hardest. She went straight to the doldrums after her mother died. Never could bring herself out," She said, stroking the head of the cat. "Her father wasn’t much better. He was suffering bad himself. He tried to comfort his daughter. Why he even came home one day with little Muffy here," She said and offered up the cat to the camera. "Thought it might cheer his daughter up a bit. I guess it didn’t work," She said, and a sad caring face presented itself.

"So what you’re telling us Mrs. Benson," Eldridge said, "is that love for a woman they both lost, caused them to take their own lives?"

"Only thing I can figure," she said, shaking her head.

"Well thank you for your time Mrs. Benson," Eldridge said, nodding towards Olive and Muffy.

"You’re welcome dear," Olive said and smiled. The camera zoomed in on Ms. Eldridge’s, tanned, just back from Jamaica looking face and she ended her report.

"Summing up, a double suicide has taken the lives of two Kingstonians. Daniel Brackmon and his daughter Milicent leaped to their deaths from the Kingston-Rhinecliff bridge earlier today. Police are still investigating and we will update you on any further developments in this tragic tale of love and loss." She then flashed her sympathetic smile for the camera. "Back to you Jim."

"Thank you Kelly Eldridge for that report," he said looking down at the top of the news desk as if in deep contemplation.

He looked up and said, "What a terrible, terrible story. We’ll be back after this."

The screen faded to black.

View or add comments on this story

Back to top
Back to list of stories

Web www.fictionontheweb.co.uk


Home Stories Poems Site Reviews Writing Tips Charlie Fish