Crossing Bridges

Hello everyone. The last short story I published here on WordPress titled Garden Base M2-4 and Garden Base M2-4 Part 2 went over very well so I decided to publish another one. This is also based on a short story I wrote in college with some updates and edits. This will be broken up into two parts because it is too long for one, large entry. Please check out Garden Base M2-4 if you haven’t already. Also let me know if you enjoy this updated college stories. Let me know in the comments below. Enjoy!


 

“Please stay seated, children! There’s still a few more minutes until the bell rings,’ Linda said. “I know you are all excited to go home, but please sit down! Tommy leave Suzy alone. Noah give Oliver back his back back.”

Today was just another crazy time for Linda. Her kindergarten class was full of maniacs. Sometimes she wondered how one person could be expected to control so many small children. Especially when these children still wet their pants and ate paste. Linda had been doing this job for fifteen now so she considered herself a professional when it came to keeping kids under control, but today was especially bad because today was the last day of school.

RIIIIIIIIIIING

“Ok that’s the bell! Enjoy your summers and maybe do some reading! It’s been a pleasure to teach all of you!” Linda yelled over the stampede of children leaving the classroom. It was almost like a plague of locusts vacating the classroom.

“God bless those parents,” Linda mumbled to herself.

She sat down at her desk and took a deep breath, but the small moment of relaxation was cut short by the phone on Linda’s desk. It began to ring and Linda hit the speaker button.

“Hello?” Linda said.

“Hello Linda, this is Victoria. Can you come down to my office right away?” The voice said.

“Yeah sure thing, Victoria. I’ll be right down.”

Linda hit the button and the phone call ended.

Victoria was the Elementary School Principal and had almost been around as long as Linda had been teaching. Victoria and Linda had always been on good terms and she really liked having Victoria as the Principal. She was not a person who ever raised her voice at students or teachers, but Linda had heard stories that Victoria never needed to raise her voice to make misbehaving respect and listen to her. Knowing that, Linda still felt this worrisome feeling in her gut. It was almost like she was in school being called to the Principal’s Office.

It didn’t take long for Linda to walk down to Victoria’s office and she knocked on the door.

“Come on in Linda,” Victoria said.

Linda entered the room and took a seat in one of the larger chairs in front of Victoria’s desk. She also had smaller chairs of Elementary-sized children.

“This is what it must be like to be one of the bad kids,” Linda said with a laugh as she looked around the office.

“What? Oh yeah…” Victoria looked up from a folder full of papers. She had a slight smile, but it disappeared quickly.

“Linda there’s something that I need to tell you, but I’m not really sure how. I thought it would be better to do this in person rather than send an email,” Victoria began looking around the room, not meeting Linda’s eyes.

“Is there something wrong?” Linda asked.

“I have been in a several meetings with the Superintendent and the School Board and it seems like the school is low on money. There’s a lot of concern when it comes to running the school,” Victoria explained.

“As you know, we had a levy on the ballot this spring, but it did not pass. That has lead the School Board and the Superintendent to look into some major cuts to keep the school from closing down. I thought that we had decided on all major cuts back in April, but apparently things are worse than we suspected and there will have to be more cuts.”

“Oh no. That’s awful. I hope that doesn’t affect the extracurricular activities,” Linda said.

Victoria let out a sigh.

“We are trying to keep as many of those going as we can. But that’s not why I called you down. The most recent cuts involve letting go some of the teachers.”

The gears started spinning in Linda’s head.

“You…don’t mean that…I… you’re firing me?” Linda stood up from her chair.

She didn’t know whether or not to be shocked or angry. One second she was looking forward to the last day of school and next she’s learning that today is the last day of school for her indefinitely.

“Linda, I’m so sorry. It wasn’t an easy decision for any of us, but we have to make cuts. I fought for you. I really did.”

“But I’ve been here for fifteen years! I love teaching here and I love these kids. You can’t do this to me! I’ve never had a complaint about me! The parents love me! The kids love me!”

“I know Linda. I know. But we had to make cuts. We had to. I tried so hard to keep your job. I thought the major cuts were done. I thought you were safe,” Victoria said with her face in her hands.

“What are they going to do for Kindergarten next year?” Linda asked.

There was a brief moment of silence.

Then Victoria spoke through some sobs, “They are going to find someone new. Someone they can hire for cheaper.”

“I’m being fired because I actually have experience? Because I’ve actually taught before? I can’t believe it.”

“I’m so so sorry, Linda,” Victoria repeated.

Linda stood there silent. Stunned by all of this.

“I wish I didn’t have to do this, I really am. You can come back for all your personal stuff tomorrow if you like. I can also write up a letter of recommendation for you. I’m sure you can find someplace else to teach,” Victoria said.

Without saying anything more, Linda turned around and walked through the door.

Victoria yelled for her, but Linda was gone.

When Linda got to her classroom, she closed it behind her and began to cry. She started going about the classroom picking up an assortment of personal things and stuffed them into spare boxes she had in the classroom.

She couldn’t believe that one of her favorite days just got ruined. Her life was ruined. She loved this school and she loved teaching and now it was all being taken from her. Just because some selfish people couldn’t give up mere dollars for their child’s education. She had been such a great teacher. Now what was she going to do?

Linda went to her car with the things she could carry and decided she’d just have to come back tomorrow for the rest of her stuff. She drove home with tears in her eyes and some of her stuff in the back of the car.

Once home, she just went to bed. She decided she would get up early tomorrow and come into school to get the rest of her stuff. She’d avoid the awkward looks and the whispering tones from the other teachers who had their jobs. She’d quickly collect her stuff and get out of there as soon as she could.

The next day, Linda drug herself out of bed. She got ready and made her way back to the school. She had taken the same route across the south bridge day after day after day, back and forth from school, but after today, she wouldn’t have to come this way to school anymore. This was it.

Linda looked out her car’s windshield at the bridge. She noticed the morning mist covering most of the bridge. She could make out the familiar sight of the asphalt road in front of her and the painted lines on the road. There were also concrete pathways on both sides of the bridge that pedestrians walked frequently during the day. However, at this time, the road and sidewalks stayed pretty barren.

There was nothing but fog in front of her. But then she noticed that among the mist was a shadowy figure that seemed to be standing on the ledge of the bridge.

Linda did a double take as her focus went from driving to the strange figure. She slammed on her brakes and pulled over to the side of the bridge close to the figure that now resembled a man wearing a heavy coat. She shut off her car, opened the door, and ran towards him.

“Sir! Sir!” Linda yelled as she ran.

The man seemed startled, almost losing his balance.

Linda covered her mouth with her hands as the man recovered.

“Hey! What do you think you’re doing?” The man yelled back.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you like that,” Linda said. “I was just driving and I saw you standing there.”

“I could have fallen off here!”

“Again I’m sorry,” Linda said. “But weren’t you about to jump?”

“I mean, yeah, but I can’t fall off of here before I’m ready. I have to be emotionally ready first. What are you even doing here?”

“Well, like I said, I was driving by and I saw you standing on the edge of the bridge. I wanted to stop you from jumping.”

“Why?” The man asked.

“Well…uh… isn’t that what you’re supposed to do?”

“You’re not supposed to scare them.”

“I said I was sorry! I’ve never done anything like this before.”

“Yeah that’s obvious.”

“Why don’t you come down and we can talk about things,” Linda said as she walked towards the man with her arms reaching out to him.

The man saw this and shouted out.

“Don’t come any closer or I’ll jump before you can reach me!”

Linda stopped where she was. Only fifteen or so feet sepeareted the man from her. He was a younger looking guy, probably in his mid-twenties. He wore a ratty jacket even though it was a hot day in June. His jeans looked dirty and covered in stains. His short, black hair was unkempt and greasy.

“Lady, just get in your car and drive away. Nobody knows you’re here,” The man said.

There was no way she was going to walk away from this guy and let him take his own life. Linda had to do something. She wanted to save this man and keep him from jumping off this bridge. That was the right thing to do. She had to help him. Linda just needed some way to convince him not to jump.

Maybe if they connected on a deeper level, the man would be less likely to jump. She had to start a conversation.

Something small.

“Please, sir. Just tell me your name. That’s all I want to know,” Linda said.

The man looked at Linda like she had just asked him for one of his kidneys.

He studied Linda for a second.

“My name is Frank,” He said.

“Well Frank, my name is Linda. It’s nice to meet you, even though the circumstances could have been better,” Linda let out some awkward laughter trying to ease the tension.

Frank did not return the laughter.

“Yeah, I didn’t think I’d see anyone out here this early in the morning, but here you are. Who knew that this of all places would be a good place to meet strangers?”

Linda dismissed his comment.

“Frank, please don’t jump. Just come down so we can talk.”

“Look lady, I know you probably mean well, but I didn’t come here to talk to you about how precious life is and how we all have some bigger purpose or some crap like that. I came here to jump. I’ve made peace with it.”

Linda was a little taken back. She thought this man would be grateful to have someone to talk to. Instead this guy was being mean to someone who just wanted to save him.

“Well I’m sorry I’m inconveniencing you with trying to save your life,” Linda said.

“Apology accepted,” Frank said flatly.

“You’re a real piece of work. You know that?”

“You’re the one who’s yelling at a man who was going to kill himself. Of course, you did that after you inconvenienced him with idle chitchat. I could have jumped already. On top of that, you almost failed right away by scaring the person standing on the edge of a bridge.”

“I’m trying to convince you not to kill yourself,” Linda said. “You should be thanking me!”

“Yeah, well thanks, I guess. Now can I go ahead and do this?” Frank asked.

Linda took a deep breath. She had experience with unruly kindergartens and thought the same kind of logic could be used on an unruly man.

“Look Frank, I think we kind of got off on the wrong foot. Maybe we should start over,” Linda said.

Frank just let out a long sigh.

Linda’s plan was to use the same strategy she used on the children when they didn’t listen to her

First: Try to bribe them.

“Frank, will you just come down? We can go to a nice coffee shop. I’ll buy you a warm drink or a pastry.”

“I don’t like coffee,” Frank said.

“It doesn’t have to be coffee.”

“Eh, I don’t talk to strangers I just met about my life either.”

“Well, what do you like?”

Frank shrugged.

“The ability to die in peace.”

Linda could tell that she was going to have a lot of trouble convincing Frank to take a step back from the ledge of the bridge.

 


Header Photo Credit to Freepik.com
https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/school-classroom-interior-university-educational-concept-blackboard-table_2238431.htm#term=classroom&page=1&position=0

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