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REJ

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Dawn wasn’t sure where she was going or why she had left her friend’s party in such a rush, but instinct told her to keep driving. A familiar exit came along on her right and without thinking, she turned on her signal and left the freeway. The scenery changed from the trees on the side of a freeway to trees beside a bridge in a looming forest. She pulled over to the right side of the wooden structure. For a minute, she sat in the car in total silence. Thoughts ran around her brain but she ignored them. Instead she focused on the fleeting feeling of peace. Eventually it was over and she swung open her door. Her black heels clicked against the ground with every step. She usually didn’t mind the sound but she craved only the sounds of the rumbling highway nearby and the rushing stream under the bridge. She came upon the edge and looked over. The river was fast and almost seemed out of control, but she knew it understood its purpose. The direction it needed to take was clear. Her river was not so clear. It went on varying paths and each one never led to the ocean. Headlights from a red minivan shone onto her but they didn’t stop and ask what she was doing. No, they drove past and went on their way to whatever destination they considered important. If she was being honest, she’d do the same. Even if they had stopped, she wasn’t sure what she would say. The conversation would most likely go like this:
Hey are you okay?
I don’t know.
Do you need help?
I don’t know.
She exhaled through her nose, a sort of laugh at her own thoughts. However she was lying to herself, she knew why she was here. That aching feeling in her chest only grew with each passing day and her frustration with it all had reached its peak. She had decided to subconsciously end it here. At the same place her mother had.

Dawn and her mother weren’t so different. Both filled with debilitating emotions of uncertainty, numbness, and anxiety. Both put on a face that never reflected how they felt. Both came to this bridge on a dark night, wanting to end all the pain. Dawn wondered, not for the first time, how her mother must’ve felt. Did she think about her at the moment? Or was her mother so consumed with her own pain, she wasn’t even considered? Dawn liked to think she was on her mother’s mind, even if that thought was both comforting and agonizing. On the one hand, if her mother had thought of her then she did care what happened to Dawn. While on the other, she considered and didn’t care enough. She did it anyway. She was alright with leaving her only child to go and live with Nana at nine years old. She tried to shut down these bitter thoughts by telling herself how selfish she was for thinking this way. That her mother was sick. But then another thought replaced it: So what? If she was going to end it all, who cares what her last thought was? No one would know. In the years that followed her mother’s suicide, Dawn wondered if it were her fault. She wondered if her mom would still be here if she were never born. She wished she wasn’t. Nana would have her daughter. Her friends would be better off without all her problems. Dawn wouldn’t have to carry the weight of memories, burdens, and fears anymore. She looked over the edge again, the same one her mother had gone down, and completely considered it. She wondered what it would feel like as she fell. If she would be enveloped by the same tortuous thoughts or if she’d think nothing for once. The wind would blow her thoughts from her mind as it wrapped around her limbs. Her eyes would close and she would let the wind carry her down the ravine. It was frightening how peaceful the thought made her. Peace. She was chasing peace, something she never could find. There was no such thing as peace for her.

“Well I guess this is it,” She said to herself, “Going out the same way my mother had. How’s that for poetic justice? I’m not any different than she was... Nana’s gonna be so-” She gasped as her words echoed off the water and into the night. Her manicured hand rose and covered her mouth. Tears started welling up in her eyes. Her Nana loved Dawn’s mother, she really did. But the menace behind her voice was clear whenever she talked of her death. How she had left her daughter all alone in a cruel world. She used it to hide the devastating sadness of losing her only child. The one she sacrificed so much for out of love. Just like she did for Dawn for all seventeen years of her life. Dawn’s mother may have been around for nine years of her life but even then had been too depressed and Nana had been there to help. Dawn wiped the tears from her eyes and stepped away from the ledge. She couldn’t leave her Nana truly alone. Every day was a battle she could fight for her Nana. She realized now that she didn’t want to be like her mom. She never hated her mother for what she did. She understood how miserable she was, especially now. But she also got to see and feel first hand what her mother had left behind. Her mother couldn't find the courage to live. That’s all right, because Dawn found it in herself. She would carry her mother's memory, mistakes and all, and keep pushing through. She brushed off her black dress and walked back toward her car. When she got back into the driver’s seat, she didn’t need to pause for peace. She just turned the car on and got back onto the road.

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