Rick Hartwell is a retired middle school teacher (remember the hormonally-challenged?) living in Southern California. He believes in the succinct, that the small becomes large; and, like the Transcendentalists and William Blake, that the instant contains eternity. Given his “druthers,” if he’s not writing, Rick would rather still be tailing plywood in a mill in Oregon. He can be reached at email@example.com.
The pale newborn flutters gracefully down from the Golden Gate; due to its insignificant weight, is borne in twists and turns by the onshore wind, and flies into the bay towards Alcatraz. The infant lands in an ebb tide, is carried back under the bridge and out towards the Farallones. A tight-swaddled blanket, too distant to determine whether pink or blue – inconsequential really – descends slowly beneath the chop, turns pale green possibly, and disappears.
The woman on the bridge tracks the first part of this flight as best she can through tears. But between the diminishing smallness of the bundle and her own shivering, initially grateful, loses sight of her child before she, or he – indeterminate, as only the parents know, – hits the water.
Too late to regret not traveling with the child, the woman mounts the railing and jumps. Her trailing feet just caress the edge of the suicide netting, tumbling her at first. Her unbuttoned London Fog coat capes above, straightening her, as she plummets, rather than floats, only slightly towards the island. She hits rather flat, knocking the wind out of her, and easing the drowning even before she passes under the bridge.
Much later the wind falls off, the tide turns and the famed San Francisco fog swallows the famous bridge, obscuring everything except the disembodied towers soaring above. Much later, at the Top of the Mark, the sodden man orders another and scopes out his newest prospects just as the bartender trumpets “last call.”