There’s more than one way of committing suicide. There were the freezing waves of the Detroit River thrashing beneath me – as invisible in the darkness as the toes of my ratty sneakers sticking over the edge of the bridge. But even at seventeen I’d learned that most of what was important in life was invisible.
The wind whipped my ponytail across my face and sandpapered my already chapped cheeks with a blast of ice particles. I leaned my body into the open air over the water. All I had to do was let go of the rail and I would plummet into the black void below. Instant death – what most people thought of when they thought of suicide.
I pulled myself back upright and considered returning home to the vodka bottle I’d abandoned a half hour earlier. A much slower death, but so far my method of choice. It offered escape without the commitment of instant results.
The third option was one most people wouldn’t consider suicide. To them it would seem like a way out of this decaying slum and into the good life. Living like a princess with my grandparents in Boston. I'd have nice clothes, plenty to eat and attend a private college. Be part of the Executive class that profited from the misery of others. No thanks.
A car rumbled onto the bridge behind me. I ignored it until I was suddenly bathed in flashing red and blue lights. One last chance. I could let go and get it over with; stop running. But I didn’t. I was too much of a coward to go that way. I turned and clambered back over the rail, my ruined ankle yammering at me the whole way.
“Alexandra?” the cop asked, standing at the door of his cruiser. “What on earth are you doing?”
Damn. Why did it have to be someone I knew? “Sorry, Officer Morton. It was dumb.”
“Go home right now. Should I tell your father you wanted to jump off a bridge?”
“I wasn’t going to jump,” I mumbled, shoving my hands into the pockets of my threadbare coat and turning to hobble home.
Much to my irritation, he got back in his car and followed me. I knew he wasn’t allowed to offer me a ride anymore, but tailing me the whole way? What a jerk.
This neighborhood had always been working class, but since the Corpos had taken over it'd gone downhill fast. It wasn't because of crime either. It's because when you barely make enough to pay the mortgage, eat and keep yourself clothed, home maintenance goes by the wayside. Boarded up windows, a rock replacing a broken stair and lawns turned to dirt lots from lack of water gave the feel of abandonment. It didn't look so bad earlier in the evening when there were lights in some of the houses, though several families had already turned to candles for illumination as a way to save money.
I was almost home when I noticed a car idling in front of my house. It was dark and sleek as a panther – a shiny black GTO. I was immediately wary. The most common reason for well-heeled strangers in the seedy dockside neighborhoods of Detroit were bill collectors, which didn’t habitually show up at eleven o’clock at night.
As I drew near, I could make out a figure in the driver’s seat, his body turned, one arm over the back, looking at me. As determined as I was to die, my heartbeat still stepped up its tempo.