Come As You Are
people had died, the bridge where John Berryman himself had jumped to his death. And I thought about how Kurt shot himself. That took guts. A gun? Why a gun? I mean, he had to have a lot of drugs around. Why not just overdose? A gun meant you hated yourself. A gun meant you wanted to make sure everybody knew this was no accident.
    Something weird happened to me. Something totally unexpected. Standing there in front of those cool kids, I burst into tears. Like somebody flipped a switch. I hadn’t felt it coming. Not at all. Otherwise I would have moved. I would have sat down. But suddenly I felt overwhelmed, like this weight was pushing on me, smothering me, and I had nobody to turn to, nobody to confide in. It wasn’t just my secret that I carried hidden deep in my belly, but death. The idea of death. About someone being here one minute and gone the next.
    Where did they go?
    Just gone?
    Yes. That’s what I think. Just gone.
    My thoughts were racing, and it felt like I was falling into this dark pit that I’d never get out of. The classroom was gone. The hipsters were gone. It was just me in my head.
    Somebody said something to me.
    Professor Scott. With a humiliating jolt, I realized I was still standing in front of the class, and I was still crying. Huge gulping sobs.
    I dropped my papers on the floor, dove for my desk, and grabbed my things. Clutching books and notebooks to my chest, I ran from the room, passing a blurred line of faces with mouths hanging open.
    Someone shouted. I looked over my shoulder and saw Prof Scott standing in the doorway. I gave him a jaunty wave. “I’m fine!” And I kept running.
    At one point in my flight I stopped and sat on a bench long enough to stuff my stray books and papers into my bag. Then I ducked under the broad strap and took off again.
    I should join the running team, I thought. Then I could just run and run all day long and I wouldn’t be running away from anything. I’d just be running.
    Unable to go any longer, I slowed to a walk. Bent over, hands to knees, I struggled to catch my breath. When I straightened back up I saw the suicide bridge.
    How do I keep ending up here?
    I needed to talk to somebody, I thought as I walked toward the bridge. But who? Rose? Rose who didn’t like heavy subjects? Taylor? Who’d never said a word about my dad’s death? Taylor, who lived to get high? I thought about a shrink, but I couldn’t really see myself unloading on a stranger. But wasn’t everybody a stranger to me? Really? Ian had been right about shutting him out. He just didn’t realize I did that with everybody.
    It was windy on the bridge. My hair and dress whipped around me, and my bare legs were cold. I wondered where John Berryman jumped. From the middle? A little to the side? They should put up a plaque but I guess that would be an invitation.
    Oh, hey. Good idea. Was just on my way to class but now that you mention it suicide seems a better option.
    Behind me, a bus shifted gears and shot a blast of diesel fumes my direction. Below, the Mississippi reflected the blue sky, and across the bank the trees were a flaming orange and red. Winter was coming. Ian had been excited about winter.
    I wasn’t sure where he was, and I’d spent the past few days trying to find another place to live. So far I’d narrowed it down to a house in Uptown where four people lived. It was close to Mean Waitress, but the idea of moving in with a pack of strangers didn’t appeal to me.
    My phone rang. Or rather my ringtone. I checked the display. Minneapolis number, no name. I let it go to voicemail as I walked back across the bridge, toward the Frank Gehry designed Weisman Art Museum where I found a little alcove so I could check the message without wind or traffic noise.
    Professor Scott. “Hey, Molly. Just wanted to make sure you were okay. If you need to talk, today or anytime, you can always send me an email or stop by during my office hours, which are three to four-thirty.

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