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The Visitor--an inspirational short story series

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"...Choose only entertainment and media that uplift you. Good entertainment will help you to have good thoughts and make righteous choices...Do not participate in entertainment that in any way presents immorality or violent behavior as acceptable."
For The Strength of Youth

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The Visitor--an inspirational short story series
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Submitted by Steven ODell on 12 January 2009 - 5:18pm.

Who Am I (The Bridge)
Steven G. O'Dell © 2008

Kincaid Freeman sat with his face in his hands, crying like a baby. He had reached the end of his personal endurance and could take no more. The entire week had been like a compressed playback of everything that had ever gone wrong in his life. He felt worthless to himself or anyone else and just wanted to end it all—for the first time in his life, he wanted it over.

The weather even reflected his pain this night. It was cold, windy and raining. Kincaid kept going over in his mind how many ways he could accomplish the task at hand, but finally decided upon the big bridge over the river. The fall alone would probably knock him out and shorten his suffering. And so he gathered his keys, walked to his car and began his last journey in life.

Parking his car off the road at the end of the bridge, Kincaid locked it out of habit and then laughed at the insanity of it. How ridiculous to care what happened to it after he was gone. He opened it again and threw the keys on the seat, slamming the door behind him. Now he looked with all seriousness at the bridge ahead of him. It had shining highlights from the rain and the few lights that lit it against the darkness. And it would be the last thing Kincaid Freeman would see.

Kincaid gathered his courage and walked stiffly to the center of the bridge and stood for the longest time looking down into the dark waters below. The steel railing was cold to the touch and sapped the heat from his hands in moments. With a sudden gasp of breath, Kincaid began to climb onto the railing to take his position for the final plunge that would end his suffering, once and for all. Just as he was standing erect on the steel railing, he was shocked to hear a male voice from behind him. He jumped at the sound and that was almost enough to knock him into the water. Reaching out for the strut nearest him, he grabbed hold to steady himself and turned about to see who was talking.

“You thought you could do this alone, I guess.”

“”I don't know what you mean. What are you talking about?”

“You know exactly what I'm talking about. Who comes out to a dark bridge in the middle of a cold and rainy night, climbs up on the railing and claims to be sight seeing? You came for something else—something of a more permanent nature, didn't you?”

“What does it matter if I did? It's my life.”

“Exactly. And you are going to snuff it out forever. Might I ask you why?”

Kincaid couldn't believe what he was hearing. He had thought he would be alone, jump from the railing and that would be the end of it. Now he had this idiot with him that seemed intent on gaining an interview.

“Pardon me for being abrupt, but what business is it of yours?”

“You're kidding, right?”

“What?” The question took him off guard and he could think of nothing else to say.

“It's my business if I find someone trying to take his own life, destroy everything he ever was or will be and it's my business if you expect me to stand by and just watch as you do it.”

“Listen, no one invited you here. You can go at any time.”

“You make it sound so easy. Just go and forget it all, right? I don't think you understand how hard that will be. I could go, but I could never forget. In fact, I would most likely have nightmares the rest of my life. Is that what you want for me? Is that your parting gift to a total stranger who never did you any harm?”

Kincaid absently shook his head and began to mumble something incoherent before breaking down into tears again. The stranger began again.

“Do me a favor and at least sit down while we talk, okay?”

Not knowing how else to handle this new wrench in the gears, Kincaid sank slowly to the rail and listened. He could hear the water below and he heard the footsteps of the man who had come to foil his plans for a quick and relatively painless death.

“Thank you. Heights make me nervous and you standing up there just accentuated it for me. Let's get one thing straight right now, okay? If you do jump in, don't expect me to come after you. I can't swim that well and there's no use two of us drowning, wouldn't you agree?”

A nod of the head was all that came as an answer. The fight and determination was gone now. Kincaid wasn't sure he could gather the courage and drive to do this again. What did he have to lose by listening to this man?

“What did you think you were going to accomplish by this?”

“I want to end the pain, that's all.” The response was slow and almost zombie-like, devoid of all emotion.

“And you thought this was the way to do it.” The man shook his head and blew out a loud puff of air. “Don't you have family still living? Mother and Father?”

“Yes.”

“Then you figured ending your pain wouldn't affect them at all, right? That they wouldn't care and wouldn't feel it at all?”

The words stung like a needle, going right to the heart. Kincaid had almost forgotten anyone but himself in this matter. Now it all cam rushing back.

“Look, what do you want from me?”

“I want to show you that you mean something and your life is valuable. Then maybe we can go for a bite to eat—my treat. Alright?”
“Do you think that's funny?” Kincaid was beginning to show exasperation.

“Good. You're not so sad anymore. No, I don't think it's funny. I think it's necessary. A man has to eat now and then, you know. Don't you do that? Never mind. Let's get to the important stuff, shall we?”

“And what would that be?”

“It would be the value of your life in the big scheme of things. You think you don't matter. Nothing could be further from the truth. You matter a great deal.”

“I find that hard to believe.”

“I'm sure you do in your limited view of the world and life. Have you stopped to ask yourself why you would come out here on a such a miserable night, expecting to be alone, and would have another here to save your life?”

Kincaid thought a moment before responding. It had to be coincidence. Who else knew he was coming here? He hadn't even known it himself until he had decided conclusively what his method would be.

“Coincidence.”

“No, it isn't. I was minding my own business and had an overwhelming urge and impression that I must come here. Do you really think I wanted to be out on a night like this? I wouldn't be here except for you. You owe me something for that. Don't you think?”

Kincaid was getting angry now. “What's with this flippant attitude? I thought you cared what happens to me.”

“I do. I'm just trying to get you to care, too. You seem to want to fight me all the way. Do you really think it was coincidence...Kincaid?”

“How do you know my name?” Kincaid was truly shocked now. Forgotten was the plan to kill himself.

“How do you think? I told you—I was sent here to stop you. How else would I know?”

“Okay, let's say I believe you—why would anyone care what happens to me?”

“Besides your parents...and a sister, if I am not mistaken...you are important to God. He is your Father and cares very much what happens to you. If you do this, Kincaid, you will never be able to be forgiven. If you think the pain and torment is bad now, wait until you taste it for eternity.”

“But it hurts so much. What can I do to stop it?” His pleading was sincere.

“You need to know who you really are and why you are here. I want to teach you that. When you know these things, you will have a much better opinion of your worth. Are you ready to go?” He extended his hand and waited.

“Alright.” Kincaid slid slowly from the railing and approached the stranger to get a better look. “You really were sent to stop me?”

“Absolutely, Kincaid. Your worth is more than you know. You just don't know enough yet...and I'm here to bridge the gap for you.” He smiled warmly, placed a reassuring arm around Kincaid's shoulders and led him off the bridge to safety and true peace.

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