Shit. The woman gripped the railings tighter, the voice cutting through the breeze and making her jump slightly. She regained her balance quickly, the cold metal feeling like it was burning her hands, she was gripping it so tightly.
She was no longer alone. That was definitely going to make this harder than it already was.
Maybe if she ignored him, he’d just get bored and go away? Or maybe if she asked him politely he’d leave? People didn’t want to involve themselves with this right? Like, who really wanted to watch a 29 year old girl plunge to their death?
Although given what she’d read on the Internet, there were a fair few sickos out there who would have.
She knew she should have gone for the pills instead. Or the razor. But that would have meant checking back into a hotel room and she’d be discovered pretty quickly. That was something she didn’t want. The river below looked fairly fast moving, and her hope was that she’d be swept away and that it would take a few days for her body to be recovered and matched up with the suitcase she was leaving behind.
She should have waited until later in the evening. It had seemed quiet, and she’d been stood here for the last two hours and he was only the second person that had come this way. The first had barely given her a glance, despite the crying. But then again, she had been on the other side of the railings at that point.
Oh why was this so hard?
“Um….. My name’s Spencer Reid. Listen…. Is there someone I can call? Someone who you need to talk to? You don’t have to do this.”
She glanced over to where the voice was coming from, seeing a tall gangly man with messy hair, a dirty brown colour. He was wrapped in a dark coat, an aubergine coloured scarf around his neck, the ends blowing in the wind. Looking back to the water and she closed her eyes, taking a deep breath. She started to lean forward again slightly, the way she had been for the last twenty minutes. Hearing a rush, she looked back up. The man had suddenly bolted towards her and was now only a few feet away.
“Don’t come any closer. Please,” she managed to choke out, sure that the wind would swallow her words whole.
“I won’t…. I promise. Just… Let’s talk okay. What’s your name? I’m Spencer,” he held his hands up in a gesture of surrender, as if to prove that he wasn’t going to move. His hair was longer than the average males and she could see him fighting to keep it out of his face, the same way she was.
“I don’t want to talk. Just…. Leave me alone. Please!”
“I can’t do that now…. I’m sorry but I’m here now. I can’t walk away. I’m involved.”
“You’re not involved at all. Just leave. Please. Pretend you were never here.”
Spencer rubbed his hands together, blowing on them to keep them warm. It was freezing out tonight. She could barely feel her fingers now, and her legs and feet were starting to feel numb too, the wind whipping through the thin material of her tights.
“I can’t pretend. I am here. And I’m not going to leave. Please just come over the railing. We can talk. We don’t have to go anywhere away from here. We don’t have to even talk about what ever it is that’s made you feel that jumping is the only way out….. We can talk about…. books or films, or colours. Or where you’re from. You’re British right?”
No shit…. She shook her head trying to shake the hair out of her eyes again.
“What good will talking about any of that do? Please just piss off and leave me alone.”
“You’re wearing a lot of purple and lilac, so I bet that’s your favourite colour right? Mine too. See…,” he tugged on the ends of his scarf. “Purple…. And the bag down there. Is that a Cheshire cat keyring attached to it? I’m guessing you’re an Alice fan?”
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’
‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat.
‘I don’t much care where -’ said Alice.
‘Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’ said the Cat.
’- so long as I get SOMEWHERE,’ Alice added as an explanation.
‘Oh, you’re sure to do that,’ said the Cat, ‘if you only walk long enough.”
The man read the quote verbatim without even seeming to need to think about it.
But she could quote that book too, and one line in particular seemed very fitting right now.
“If everybody minded their own business, the world would go around a great deal faster than it does.” She raised an eyebrows at him hoping he’d get the hint.
“So you are a fan then? You know the Dodo in the book is actually based on Lewis Carroll himself… Due to his stammer he used to introduce himself as 'Do-do-Dodgson….His stutter actually prevented him from his original career choice which was to become a priest, so he ended up becoming a mathematician and author instead.”
“I’m guessing you didn’t get the hint then?“ she stared at the man in wonderment.
“Oh I got your hint. But I’m not leaving….And I’m really hoping you’re not still planning on jumping because that water looks cold and I really wasn’t planning on getting wet tonight… Well, aside from a nice hot bath which I could really do with now. I’m freezing. And your lips are starting to turn blue,” he talked fast, his sentences streaming into each other.
“Why on earth would you have to get wet?” she was become frustrated now.
“Well if you jump, I kinda have to jump in afterwards and save you.”
“But I don’t want saving, that’s the point” she spoke through gritted teeth.
“And I don’t really want to plunge into a freezing cold river either, but it looks like neither of us will get the ending we wanted. You jump, I jump.” He inched closer and she looked at him sharply. He stopped, if he reached out now, he could touch her.
“Are we in a James Cameron movie or something? Look I really don’t need a Jack Dawson coming to save me. I’m not some poor little rich girl being forced into a marriage of convenience and last I checked, we weren’t aboard a doomed ship.” This was starting to get ridiculous now.
“Titanic right? I can quote that too.”
For some reason, that didn’t surprise her. He moved forward again, oh so slightly.
“Just stay back okay. I’ll let go, I swear it.”
“No you won’t. You would have done it by now.” He grinned, “Told you I could quote it.”
What….. Just what? Why was this happening to her
The grin faded as quickly as it had appeared as he tried again. “Please…. Just, come back over the railing. We could do this all night. I’m not going anywhere and I’m fairly certain you won’t jump with me here, because you’re not the sort of person who would jeopardise someone else’s safety for her own wants.”
“How do you even know what type of person I am? You don’t know me!” she scowled at him.
“You’re right. I don’t know you as a person, I don’t know exactly what is going through your mind right now. I wish I did. I wish I could tell you that everything is going to be okay and I wish I could take away whatever pain you’re experiencing that has made you think that you have no other way out. Can we please stop pretending that you’re actually going to go through with this though. We both know you won’t, not with me here. Come back over, let’s go and get a coffee and talk. It might help. At the end of it, we’ll go our separate ways again and you’ll be free to come back here if that’s what you still want to do.” He seemed to be getting desperate and she realised that he had a point. She wasn’t going to jump with him here. She wanted to do this alone and she would do this alone. And he didn’t seem willing to go anywhere. She could have a coffee with him, and then come back later. Yes, that’s what she’d do.
“Okay. Fine. Have it your way. But I’m coming back later. And you better not follow me.” She turned around carefully, struggling to hold on with now numb fingers.
Spencer moved closer ready to offer assistance, his hand reaching out and gripping the top of her shoulder as she carefully swung her leg back over.
Safely on the other side, she stood, smoothing down her dress and rubbing her hands together trying to get some feeling back into them, before bending and pulling her heels back on.
The man suddenly lunged forward, wrapping his arms around her in a hug ignoring the startled look on her face. She patted his back awkwardly, thinking how quickly the night gone off track.
Pulling away he had a sheepish expression on his face. “Sorry,” he apologised. “I just had a really awful day at work yesterday and if you’d have jumped, you’d have pretty much killed my year. I’m Spencer. Spencer Reid.”
“Yeah you said. Three times now.”
He looked at her expectantly.
Fine. “I’m Seph.”
“Steph?” she’d expected that. It always happened.
“Oh! As in Queen of the Underworld right. Daughter of Zeus and Demeter.” Not a question, but stated as a fact.
“Okay… So…. Erm, well….”
“You mentioned coffee?” Seph wanted to get this over with as quickly as possible so she could get back to her plan.
“Yes! Coffee! Okay. Let’s go get some coffee then,” he reached down for her suitcase and Seph picked her handbag up.
“Which way then, Spencer Reid?”
“Erm…. Well. I only live like two blocks from here? Would it be weird for you if we went there…. There’s not that many coffee shops open right now. I swear I’m not a serial killer.”
Persephone laughed at the last part. “Considering the aim of this evening was for me to wind up dead, I really wouldn’t care if you were. Lead the way.”
A peculiar look crossed his face as he processed her words and he rolled his bottom lip between his teeth before turning and dragging the suitcase away.
“It’s this way Persephone.”
“Seph,” she corrected him, seeing him walking away.
“I like Persephone.”
Seph hurried after him, “Well it’s not your name.”
“You realise you had the perfect opportunity then, to turn around and jump.”