Rise and Fall – Speakeasy #142

Audrey and Jonathan leaned on the railing of the Westminster Bridge, hands clasped and fingers intertwined.  He cast a glance over his shoulder to the clock tower.  6:40.  In just a few hours, the area would be packed with millions of revelers eager to ring in a new year.  He untangled his fingers from hers and wiped his sweaty palms on his jeans.  He took her hands in his again.

“A-Audrey…” Her brown eyes glistened beneath the full moon and street lamps, leaving him distracted.

She tilted her head.  “What?”

“Um, well… these two weeks I’ve spent with you have been the most amazing days of my life.”  He drew a nervous breath.  “Will you marry me?”  He dropped to his knee and slipped a velvet box from his coat pocket.

She pulled her hands back.  “Oh!  This is so sudden.  I mean, I have to go home the day after tomorrow.”

“I can come with you.”

“Your home is London.  I can’t imagine you’d be happy in Milan.”

“Milan is gorgeous- though it is eclipsed by your beauty.”

“I’m afraid you misunderstood.  I live in Milan, New Mexico- in the United States.  A yawn on the interstate and you’d miss it.  There’s no art scene, no culture.”

“You share my adventurous heart, Audrey.  I could be happy anywhere with you.”  He glanced at Big Ben.  “Hey, we could BASE jump the tower after our vows!”

Audrey gasped.  “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”  She fought tears.  “I love you, but our love couldn’t thrive anywhere but here.”  She pressed her lips to his cool cheek, and then blended into the passing crowd before he could see her cry.

Commotion broke out behind her.  She turned and saw a man standing on the bridge railing.  When she recognized Jonathan’s gray wool coat, her constricted throat stifled a scream, and then he fell toward the River Thames.  His coat billowed in the breeze and for a moment, she’d hoped it would parachute him to safety.  She closed her eyes.  The harsh splash and the crowd’s reaction several seconds later dissolved any illusions she’d had.

**********

Audrey leaned her elbows on the bridge railing.  She checked the Elizabeth Tower clock.  6:40.  This was her eleventh New Year’s Eve visit since Jonathan  jumped without her.  Friends and family insisted that in time, she’d move on, and in a sense, she did.  She cast a sideways glance at her husband, Robert.  They’d married eight years ago, but she could no longer deny that her heart never left Jonathan or the River Thames.

“Thank you, Robert.”

“For what?”

She shrugged.  “Everything.  Being you… coming here every year because you didn’t want me to go alone… giving me more than you ever got in return.”

“What do you mean?”

She focused on the rippling water below.  “Wait here.  There’s something I have to do.”

Unable to bear the thought of crushing him, or another year of guilt and regret followed by another anniversary visit, Audrey pushed through the crowd until she found a clearing.  She climbed onto the railing just as Jonathan had.  Her husband’s pleas to reconsider rose above the rumble of the mass.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered.  Before anyone could grab her, she leaned forward and allowed gravity to reunite her with her soul’s mate.

**********

Robert rested his elbows on the bridge railing.  His gaze fell on the rippling reflection of lights below.  The River Thames had been Audrey’s fixation, but in the two years he visited alone, he found it ran through his heart as well.

On the third anniversary of Audrey’s leap, Robert brought his new bride to Westminster Bridge, so she too, might be touched by the river.

“You okay?” Catherine asked as she rubbed her husband’s back.

He straightened and wrapped an arm around her shoulders.  “Couldn’t be better.”  He kissed her forehead.

For several minutes, they embraced.

“Robert, I don’t want to lose you.”

He turned her to face him.  “What do you mean?”  He tried to keep the alarm from his voice.

“When we married eight months ago, you made it clear you didn’t want kids.  I’m pregnant.”  She covered her face with her hands and wept.

“W-what?  I don’t… I can’t believe… I love you!”  He wrapped his arms around his wife.  “I love you.”

Through tears that threatened to overflow his eyelids, he felt the blessing of the Thames.

The river that once carried his sorrow now shared his joy.

~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-

This is my response to the Speakeasy weekly prompt, which is to write a piece in 750 words or less (1) using the sentence, “I don’t think that’s a good idea.” anywhere in the piece, and (2) with some kind of reference to the photo prompt (a full moon photo of Big Ben.)

The challenge is open to anyone, so if you’d like to write your own response, you can link it up on Tuesday when the grid opens for submissions.

Thanks so much for reading!

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52 thoughts on “Rise and Fall – Speakeasy #142

  1. Justice December 29, 2013 / 7:17 AM

    Very bittersweet, Janna! I like it.

  2. nrhatch December 29, 2013 / 7:49 AM

    Interesting take on the challenge, Janna . . . but I found Jonathan and Audrey immature and impetuous. So I didn’t really care that they committed suicide in the name of infatuation.

    • Widdershins December 29, 2013 / 12:40 PM

      I agree … I wanted to hit ’em both and knock some sense into them.

    • jannatwrites December 29, 2013 / 10:39 PM

      Your comment made me laugh, Nancy! (Tell me what you REALLY think 😛 ) They aren’t sympathetic characters at all. My sympathy is actually for Robert. As I thought of this story today, it occurred to me that Robert needed his story told, so I’ll be posting an addition to do that.

  3. J. Milburn December 29, 2013 / 10:58 AM

    Good story, Janna! I’m definitely getting a Romeo and Juliet vibe from this one, although Audrey seems very selfish with her jump (especially with a loyal and loving husband watching). Jonathan was selfish as well, but he fits into that “youthful passion” idea of Shakespeare (which I don’t think he approved of 😉 ). Great work and well-written as always! Hope the holidays went well 😀

    • jannatwrites December 29, 2013 / 10:41 PM

      I was kind of thinking Romeo and Juliet too, after I wrote it. (At least they didn’t have family pulling them apart.) I think maybe Audrey stayed in the past and elevated Jonathan to a status he wouldn’t have attained had they married and stayed together. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts, J.!

  4. Widdershins December 29, 2013 / 12:42 PM

    Excellent story … imagine all the lives that were bent out of shape because of these two!

    • jannatwrites December 29, 2013 / 10:42 PM

      Definitely a ripple effect. Thank goodness Audrey didn’t have children 🙂

  5. pattyabr December 29, 2013 / 2:10 PM

    OMG what a tragic story. Unfortunately I didn’t like the story ending.

    • jannatwrites December 29, 2013 / 10:43 PM

      Thanks for sharing your reaction, Patty! It definitely wasn’t a “happy” ending 🙂

  6. passionatedreaming December 29, 2013 / 4:14 PM

    So sad! But I loved it! A little too depressing for my mood but it was very well written.

    • jannatwrites December 29, 2013 / 10:44 PM

      Thanks for reading, Passionatedreaming! I must be in a better state of mind today, because I wrote more to the story that might make it a bit more uplifting. Will post it tonight 🙂

  7. Debbie December 29, 2013 / 6:22 PM

    It took this poor girl eleven bitter anniversaries to do herself in, just the way her love had? I don’t know, but I find that terribly sad. Especially for poor Robert, who put up with all that drama all those years!

    • jannatwrites December 29, 2013 / 10:46 PM

      I’ve known people that had trouble leaving the past behind (but they weren’t as bad as Audrey.) Robert may have suffered, but I see him ending up in a better place.

  8. agjorgenson December 29, 2013 / 6:54 PM

    Wow, well done, and so very tragic.

  9. Eric Alagan December 29, 2013 / 11:22 PM

    Great tragedy, Janna – perhaps they will be reunited beyond.

  10. Bastet December 30, 2013 / 1:13 AM

    Such a tragedy, but you were able to pull a happy ending even in a nose dive…great job done.

    • jannatwrites December 30, 2013 / 10:40 PM

      Thanks, Bastet! I appreciate you reading 🙂

  11. Kir Piccini December 30, 2013 / 7:52 AM

    I actually did like it…because sometimes your heart is too full, loves too much to go on without someone. I know some people consider that a fault or a thing you must fix, but loving someone is a sticky business…

    While I was sad that both of them felt the need to leave this world in order to be happy…the writing was beautiful and stopped my breath more than once.

    • jannatwrites December 30, 2013 / 10:43 PM

      Thank you so much for reading and sharing your feedback, Kir. I’m glad you ‘felt’ the story.

  12. mandyblake95 December 30, 2013 / 3:00 PM

    Great story Janna, you really captured how far gone people can get when they can’t be with the one they love.

    • jannatwrites December 30, 2013 / 10:46 PM

      Thanks for reading, Mandy! It’s sad that she couldn’t find happiness apart from him.

  13. ym1611 December 31, 2013 / 1:32 AM

    Hey Janna 🙂 I hope you a good Christmas!

    I love the story. Although I’m glad Robert didn’t follow their lead. I expected more out of her, though. But passion makes one do strange things I guess.

    Happy New Year! (in advance)

    • jannatwrites January 1, 2014 / 12:16 AM

      Thanks, YM! Audrey was pretty selfish with her jump. Would’ve been better if she’d not dragged Robert into it. I hope you have a happy new year, too 🙂

  14. philosophermouseofthehedge December 31, 2013 / 9:27 AM

    Ok – late to the party due to holidays.
    But well crafted. Loved this “he found it ran through his heart as well.”
    Not everything ends well – this one fit.

    • jannatwrites January 1, 2014 / 12:20 AM

      I’m glad you had a chance to stop by, Phil. I can relate to being behind on reading (and writing) this time of year! Thanks for sharing your comment!

  15. Lala Rukh December 31, 2013 / 10:09 AM

    What a heat touching and beautiful piece…I am impressed by your style ! Really amazing.

    • jannatwrites January 1, 2014 / 12:21 AM

      Thanks for reading and for your kind words, Lala. I’m glad you enjoyed this story 🙂

      Also, thank you for taking time to read some of my other posts here today!

      • Lala Rukh January 1, 2014 / 10:28 AM

        It was a pleasure Jannat 🙂 xx

  16. Danny James December 31, 2013 / 10:27 AM

    Great story. It held my attention until the end. Mine pales in comparison.

    DJ

    • jannatwrites January 1, 2014 / 12:21 AM

      Thanks for reading and for your compliment, Danny, but I hardly think so. I’m still ‘worried’ about your character not going to the police 🙂

  17. Suzanne December 31, 2013 / 12:16 PM

    I like the sense of connection that runs through this piece. And I like that you added Robert’s story, breaking the cycle and changing the meaning to the connection. Nicely done, Janna!

    And Happy New Year!

    • jannatwrites January 1, 2014 / 12:23 AM

      Thanks, Suzanne! Reader opinion seems to be split regarding Robert’s part, but I like how it closes the loop so it’ll stay 🙂

  18. Sandra December 31, 2013 / 1:07 PM

    Did you add Robert’s ending after you published? I didn’t see that part in the email version of this story. Now having read the last part, this story seems much less tragic. I like Robert’s story in the end. 🙂

    • jannatwrites January 1, 2014 / 12:24 AM

      Yep, I added it, Sandra! It was one of those things that nagged me the next day, so I had to ‘fix’ it 🙂

  19. ranu802 December 31, 2013 / 3:37 PM

    It was sad in the beginning. I’m glad it had a happy ending.Thanks Jannah.

    • jannatwrites January 1, 2014 / 12:25 AM

      Thanks, Ranu802. I think I like it better with a more hopeful ending 🙂

  20. Stacie January 1, 2014 / 7:33 AM

    Thank goodness for the ending! Why didn’t she just move to London? Crazy!

    • jannatwrites January 2, 2014 / 12:07 AM

      It’s more dramatic to have her jump off a bridge 🙂 Seriously though, her family and life were halfway across the world… maybe if the relationship lasted longer she could’ve made that leap. Thanks for reading, Stacie!

  21. Ye Pirate January 2, 2014 / 8:15 AM

    That story suddenly grabbed…he was going to jump, wasn’t he! Reads like an epic!

    • jannatwrites January 3, 2014 / 10:38 PM

      Thank you so much for reading, Ye Pirate!

  22. Anja January 2, 2014 / 12:32 PM

    Love and tragedy…go hand in hand too often.
    I do love your take on the prompt and the depth of the story.

    • jannatwrites January 3, 2014 / 10:39 PM

      It’s sad, but love and tragedy do often co-exist, Anja. Thanks for taking time to read the story and share your thoughts.

  23. tedstrutz January 2, 2014 / 4:32 PM

    Good one, JannaT. I liked how you changed Big Ben to Elizabeth Tower with the passing of years… I had forgot they did that.

    • jannatwrites January 3, 2014 / 10:40 PM

      Thanks, Ted! I’ve never been there, but did some reading about it, so I wanted that to be accurate 🙂

  24. Lance February 22, 2014 / 7:57 AM

    There’s no doubt there’s an innocence to these too but you layered some subversiveness in emotion and reaction that made this so worthy of reading. More please.

    • jannatwrites February 23, 2014 / 7:32 PM

      Thanks so much for reading, Lance! I hadn’t thought more about this story since I wrote it, so I don’t know if there will be any more about them.

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