A view from the bridge
The ‘piledriver waltz’ had happened four days ago, but I had not stopped thinking about the Girl. I wondered where she was and if she was with people who cared about her. I wanted to find her and hug her, and just tell her everything was going to be OK. I thought that if I could convince her, then I could convince myself. I didn’t know what had got her to that point, and I started to doubt the severity of my own depression as I had thought about giving up before, but I had never gone that far. The thing about me, is that there is always a part of me that knows when I am being irrational. When I don’t take my anti-depressants, I admit I can go downhill, but I was growing increasingly angry with people blaming the breakdown of my relationship on my depression. ‘Aww, do you think it’s because you’re not taking your tablets?’ – if I hear that unsympathetic assessment again I’m likely to scream. What people don’t get about my depression, is the over whelming anxiety that comes with it. It doesn’t matter if I’m high, drunk, happy or sad; my anxiety demands that I over analyse every potential situation and outcome, and all my decisions are risk assessed before they made, tablets or no tablets. Tablets given to me by legal drug cartels do not define me or my depression – and they didn’t define the Girl or her actions.
I was back living with my Mum and Dad, but I felt like the nameless Girl from four days earlier was following me around and had somehow managed to get their address. I woke up terrified as I had seen her in my dreams sobbing hysterically and standing over my old bed, dripping dirty Mersey water all over my floor. I was a mess.
For days I had felt the need to go back to no-man’s bridge and check if she was ok; but I had made the decision to never leave the house again, and my body was determined that it would not be getting changed out of its pyjamas. It took me four days to finally get dressed, and I needed to get out of the house, mainly to get her out of my room and away from me. I sat that afternoon in my Nan’s house, around fifteen minutes from the City centre, and psyched myself up to go back to the Waterfront. I don’t think I had ever been to the waterfront on my own in the dark. It was only half past six, but the night descends so early in the winter it could have been eight or nine o’clock. I left my Nan’s after the rest of the family had started departing, and purposely took a different route out of the street so I wouldn’t drive straight home and get back into bed. The journey to the waterfront is not a long one, but I was completely distracted the whole way there, almost going through three red lights and having to slam the brakes on suddenly. When I pulled up outside the Liver Buildings, I thought I heard my car give out a sigh of relief.
I threw my bag in the back of the car, and stuffed a note pad and pen in my coat pocket. I was thankful for the chunky headphones I had been given for my birthday, as they kept the wind from giving me ear ache as I walked to no-man’s land. I didn’t stop for a picture with George this time, but instead looked up at my friend Jim’s apartment in the high rise behind me. I wonder if he saw the girl that night too, or if he saw a constant stream of people in pain from his fourteenth-floor window. I wondered if he could see me right now, I wasn’t hard to miss with my blue coat, black gloves and pink headphones. I wasn’t fashionable, but I was warm and that comforted me.
I selected a play list from my Spotify, before putting my phone back in the pocket with my note pad. ‘You can do this, it’s not that scary. Just don’t go near the water. And don’t have your music on too loud in case someone sneaks up on you. Don’t look suspicious or sad either as they may think you’re a jumper and then you will have to explain to people that you’re depressed, and your problems are trivial compared to other peoples.’ This inner monologue continued as I walked towards the Beatles statues, retracing my steps from four days ago. I walked quickly, stopping every now and then when I felt brave enough to look to my right and see the river and the lights reflecting off the water. When I began to feel the uneven floor beneath me I knew I was close. I looked for Yellow Jacket man and was relieved when there was no neon clothing to be found.
The massive ‘T’ on the side of the Tate gallery was lit up, and I couldn’t help but wish Teresa was here to support me, but I needed to do this on my own. After numerous attempts of looking over at the water, I finally took a step so that my hands were close enough to grip the rails. I held my headphones to my ears for fear they would fall off, and slowly popped my head over. The tide was out, and I could make out the base of the black divide that kept the river out. It was sunk in to the river bed, which looked like a rubbish, tiny beach made out of dirty sand. I noticed the green stain around the wall that faced in, and recognised that this was where the river would usually rest when the tide was in. I could not grasp how the water could be so deep and turbulent to my right, but drop suddenly to form a mini beach. I will never understand nature. I stood up straight, quite proud that I stuck my head over to witness this, and I walked across the bridge contemplating how on earth humans could create such feats of engineering, that they could almost keep nature at bay. The bridge was painted black with orange cables stretching from the rail of the bridge, up to some sort of frame above me. In its prime, I think these cables would have been a lovely deep red colour, but the weather had clearly taken its toll. The walkway of the bridge looked like sheets of steel had been placed next to each other and soldered together messily. I wasn’t sure if it was safer to step on the joints or try and place my weight in the centre of the panels, so I just looked ahead and hurried along. I stopped suddenly when I got to the other side and looked at the spot where Yellow Jacket and the Girl had waltzed; I took it all in.
I suspected that if the lopsided museum was not in the way, the Liver birds might have had a better view of the situation and something may have happened to prevent the Girl from climbing over, but this was all fantasy and speculation. The statue of Billy Fury stood behind me, his hand pointing towards the same spot Yellow Jacket pointed to when he told his story. There were two sets of railings along this side of the front. There were your average black bars, and then rows of chains draping in front like Christmas decorations. You would have to look closely to see that these were chains, as tourists and locals had developed a new tradition of writing their names on padlocks and sticking them on. I thought this was cute but unoriginal, and I looked at each one as I walked past. There was one lock which had not taken the same weather beating as the others and I made out the names ‘Wan & Lin’. I didn’t know who Wan and Lin were, or how they would feel knowing their ‘love lock’ had been secured at the spot where people took their lives; but I gave the lock a smile and looked up at the stars to wish them all the best. I hope they’re happy wherever they are. It killed me to think that the Girl may have been here due to a lost love or broken heart. Especially when she was going to throw herself in right in front of these tokens of love. That was too much irony for me.
The bridge had two big signals attached to it which were lit up in red as if they were giving off a warning. Everything about this section of the waterfront screamed danger to me as I walked nearer to the rail the Girl had climbed over. Grabbing my headphones again I slowly peered over so I could try and understand what she saw and what she might have been thinking. I had to swallow some sick that had risen sharply from my stomach and into my mouth, burning my throat as it did. As I approached, my heart was pounding as it convinced itself I was going to re-enact the event. My body didn’t have to worry though. I had no intention of ever stepping foot over any black railing that acted as a barrier between me and open water.
It was all a bit too much for me and I had to walk away. I took a few deep breaths and stepped backward slowly as if I would disturb something or someone if I walked too fast. It was then I spotted two yellow jackets glancing over at me and I started to pick up some speed. The last thing I wanted them to do was think I was going to jump. The thought that I would concern somebody who was just there doing their normal security job hurt, and I felt so guilty for even coming here in the first place. I walked away from them quickly but in the most casual way I could manage, and made my way out of no-man’s land and into the Albert Dock, where I hastily made my way to the Coffee shop that was still open a few shops away from the Tate. I was relieved to see people in there, all warm and enjoying their drinks and cakes. I rewarded my bravery with a latte and a lemon muffin, which I hardly touched as I was still feeling sick. The small amount I did eat did me the world of good, and I sent Teresa a picture of my reward with a ‘wish you were here’ message. This whole stupid crusade would have been a lot easier with her there, but I could not hide the pride I felt going there on my own, especially when I felt so down. I finished my coffee, thanked the girls who were working and made my way out, suddenly remembering I would have to go through no-man’s land to get to my car. Shit.
As I walked back, determined to just head straight to my car without another thought of the Girl, the same two security guards were stood at the other end of the bridge. ‘Please don’t be Yellow Jacket. Or if it is please don’t let him speak to me’ I begged whoever was listening. As I got closer the men didn’t really seem that interested in me, but I smiled at them anyway and looked around the area like I was loving the view and taking it all in. If I give off the vibe that I’m ok, I’ll be ok. ‘I’ll be ok’. I got straight back in my car and put the heating on instantly. Looking up at Jim’s flat again, I wanted to run up to him and tell him how brave I was; but I knew this was a stupid victory to anybody else, so I just waved in the direction of his apartment.
The Girl doesn’t stand over my bed anymore, although it has only been two days so that’s not to say she won’t come back after me jinxing myself. She is still in my mind though, and I just want to meet her check if she is ok. I wish I could give her that small portion of my mind that is rational, and gives me a mental slap whenever I get myself into the panic-stricken state she was in. Maybe she could learn from it, then pass it on to someone else. I don’t know if I would have had the same courage or strength as Yellow Jacket to pull her back over; I don’t know if I would have been able to get past my own fears and doubts to get near her or the rail she had climbed over. I think that is what is playing on my mind; even If I was there to witness it, I wouldn’t have been any help because my own anxiety and depression would have got in the way. I hope she is getting the hug she deserves, and I hope the next time she is down the waterfront, or on the bridge in no-man’s land, it is because she is walking through to get a coffee and a lemon muffin to comfort her soul.