A life worth saving

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   "Pull over!" The girl screeched, nearly giving her poor taxi driver a heart attack. "Pull over! Pull over. Pull over right now!" She screamed again, the urgency in her voice mounting by the second.
   "Ma'am, with all due respect, we're in the middle of the Golden Gate Bridge, if we pull over now, we'll have quite a  time fighting our way back into  traffic."  Came the unnerved cabbie's response.
   "Sir, that man is about to jump and no one else is stopping. If you don't pull over right now I'm going to step out of this vehicle  and you can be responsible for any accidents I cause."  The young woman replied steely, motioning towards a scruff of a man teetering near the edge of the bridge. As she spoke, the suffocating heat trapped inside the car rose rapidly and the taxi driver could've sworn he heard bees buzzing madly in his ears.
   "Fine, fine. But don't expect me to wait for yeh any longer than ten minutes ma'am. My wife's got dinner waiting for me back home."
   "Of course not," replied the woman, the steel in her voice replaced by unnerving steadiness as the cab came to a stop by the side of the busy bridge. "Thank you sir," the woman said as she stepped out of the buzzing car into the smoggy yet cool evening air, "with any luck I won't be long."
   Gently, she closed the cab door and approached the teetering man.
    "Nice evening, huh?" She spoke softly, trying to attract the man's attention without raising any alarm or reason for him to jump sooner.
   The scruffy man just stared at her, his hollow eyes devoid of emotion and hope.
    She leaned calmly against the railing, her elbows nearly touching his feet as he stood unsteadily upon the ledge.
    "It's too nice of an evening to jump, why don't you come down from there sir?" She asked gently, trying a more direct approach.
    "Can't." Came the scratchy response. She glanced up at him. She could tell from his voice that he'd been crying.
    "Please?"
     "Why do you care?" He asked, his voice cracking. "I- I don't even know you. What makes you so special that you stop to see a stranger die?" Silent tears now ran down his gaunt face, and she sighed quietly.
    I'm a near whisper she replied, "Well,  I take strangers who try to jump to their deaths rather personally." She hesitated, "You see, nearly three years ago now, I had this friend who was much like you, except, I couldn't get to her before she jumped.... She was, she was beautiful."
   "Beautiful, huh?" The man sniffed.      
"Ain't many people beautiful nowadays now are there?" 
    "No sir, there aren't many beautiful people left. But she was. She was beautiful. Not in a worldly way, but in a transcendent way. Her soul, her soul was the prettiest thing about her. She was... different. She stood out, and people hated her for it." The woman's voice got quieter, she was whispering now, and the man had to bend down and cling tightly to the rail in order to hear her. "She even began to hate herself for her soul. She stopped seeing her beauty, and then... one day, she decided that she wanted beauty so desperately that she would try to find it in the life after this."
    They both stopped talking then, the incessant honking of horns faded into a dull murmur behind them as the unlikely pair gazed out across the sparkling water.
    "It's beautiful, huh?" The man asked, nodding to the waves.
    "Maybe." The woman replied sadly, "but I no longer believe in this type of beauty. Beauty is deceiving." She hesitated again, "below every beauty is a dark expanse of drowned hopes and sorrows."
   "You should be a poet." The man laughed hollowly, "you sound like one of 'em anyways."
  "Maybe," the woman shrugged again, gazing up at the man fervently "or maybe I just don't want to see another beautiful soul drowned in false beauty."
   The man sucked in a breath then, a breath so deep it shook his whole body.
      Many years later he would look back upon that breath and realize it was his first true breath in many years. It was the breath that began his life again.
    "Beautiful soul?" He asked, wavering between joining the woman behind the safety of the railing or joining her friend, drowned a million miles underneath the waves below.
    "Beautiful soul." She answered confidently.
    He breathed again then, watching the waves again, seeing the horror they held for the first time. Finally, after long minutes of wavering between life and death passed by, the man decided to live as the woman believed him to be, a beautiful soul, but more importantly, he simply decided to live once again.
   "I think I'm ready to get down now." He whispered.
    "I'll help you." The woman said with a smile." And with that, the scruff of a man took the young woman's hand and climbed off the ledge back into the world of the living.
    "Thank you." He said, his voice cracking once again, but this time in relief. "Thank you for saving my life."
   "It was a beautiful life worth saving." The woman said with a smile and a nod.
    Then, with one quick squeeze of the hand, the woman returned to her cab, leaving the saved man behind her  wondering wether or not she had been real or simply an angel sent to save him. In the end, he decided she hadn't been an angel, but she had simply been another beautiful soul.

The End

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