She sat on the barrier at the edge of the bridge positioned 80 feet above the Rappahannock River. She stared down at it, in her mind her life and future seemed as empty as the 80-foot drop.
A lone state policeman stood 15 feet away, coaxing her away from the edge, asking her to come off and talk to him about her life.
She cried as she recounted her story to him about her separation from her husband a month earlier. All was without purpose, it seemed.
The policeman listened, coming a little closer, assuring her that life was not empty. She had a future. There was more to it. He genuinely cared and sought to save her life.
Perhaps, she thought as she leaned back from the edge some, perhaps there is more.
80 feet became 82.
The policeman came closer still, as he held his hand out to her a driver on the southbound lanes called out for her to jump, angry at being slowed from 60 mph to 30.
She looked around at the traffic behind the roadblock. It stretched for miles. It would be hours before it would begin moving steadily again. Every one of them hates me for this.
82 feet became 80.
Another driver on the southbound lanes angrily yelled for her to jump.
As the policeman's hand reached to hers, she shied away and whispered, "I'm sorry" to the kind man who cared, stepped off the barrier, and completed the last 80 feet of her life.
I have taken an artistic license with this story. We cannot know for sure what went through her mind, or if no one had called for her to jump would change anything, though certainly that could be the straw that broke the camel's back.
One must wonder, what if this had been a footbridge instead of an interstate? Would the pedestrian's have been so callous? What would lead someone who had been merely slowed in their travel to encourage the death of another human? Is this a form of road rage? What does this really mean, if anything?