DETERMINED SPIRIT Horse Painting by Laurie Justus Pace 24
painting by artist Laurie Justus Pace

Leslie trembled inside the trusses beneath the Burlington Bridge.  "I'll show them. Make them feel bad for what they have done to me. Arghhh! Who am I kidding no ones ever given a shit about me. Hahaha! I bet it will be a week before they even know I'm gone."

Leslie's life wasn't horrible or full of catastrophe. She wasn't ugly or unintelligent. She was Leslie, the go to chump to spread rumors, steal a sweater for you or make fun of when nothing new came to town. Everyone played her, but that was how she got attention. Every day someone had a plan for her, some kind of prank or  "lets steal some hot clothes for the weekend." Once in a while she would get caught and all the kids would pretend she was really cool for going to the police station. Usually, the judge would give her a suspended sentence. Her parents thought  ignoring her was  punishment enough, never disciplined her, just looks of disappointment.

Leslie thought to herself, that by committing suicide she had finally decided her own fate. As if she held the upper hand. She was in control. Her  thirst for attention would finally be quenched by her own decision.

Doug was a self made man, he had always controlled the outcome of any situation. From an early age he recognized the power of self determination.  While a boy he would never follow the path worn by others. He would always try to look for a new way of doing things. Many times he would fail, but to him it was always great fun. Once in a while he would complete a masterful caper. Like the time he built a simple footbridge crossing the banks of the Rouge river. With simple tools he managed to cut down too large Beech trees, one on either shore, to land on the opposite sides.

Later in life he built a good business, honored his wife and raised his children with distinction. Almost everything Doug did, he was the decision maker. Obstacles were overcome, problems solved and every failure a new opportunity.

On this night Doug was in a poor state, an angry state. There was  one thing he had no control over, inoperable cancer. Within a few months he would be in extreme pain, bed ridden, placed in an kind of limbo until his last breath. This was no way for him to die, a man who decided where the road was paved, the building erected, what future was in store for all with whom he dealt with.

Desperately, he lunged at a payphone, clenched the receiver to his chest, pounded on the key pad and screamed, "Is there anyone out there that can kill me"?  No, of course not.  Doug again had to determine his own fate.

Doug had always had a love for heights. From the magnificence of tall structures to the power of gravity exponentially increasing as a mass descends.  The bridge that his company built was the perfect way to end his life.

There, on the cold greasy truss he saw Leslie. He knew why she was there. This bridge attracted many lost souls who took the final leap. Even in his own grief he felt a determination to change the way in which this young lady would die.

They exchanged stories and the reason they were about to end their lives. Leslie learned about how Doug always directed his own fortune and how the cancer was about to overwhelm him. Doug saw how Leslie was controlled by others and how easily she was led astray. He saw her desperate attempt to control the last thing she would ever do.

There came a time where the both agreed to spend just one more day. "Lets go to the coffee house and talk things over, before jumping", Doug proposed.

"Sounds good to me. I could use a snack and a cup of coffee before I jump". Agreed Leslie.

As Doug made his way to the rail he slipped. The cold greasy truss caused him to fall into the abyss. His face full of terror, not for himself, but because he thought the girl might throw her life away and he now had no power to stop it.

Leslie looked down on Doug's lifeless body. How ironic his death was not of his own doing and yet he could have carved his path out of stone.

Leslie learned an important lesson that night. Your death may not be self determined, but your life is what you make of it.

When Leslie died, many years later, the eulogy read, " No stop sign or curve in the road. No fence was erected or brick wall placed. No laws were ever passed or police action taken that stopped Leslie from doing what she wanted to do!


Uploaded 08/11/2011
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