I sprinted – in heels – up the footpath and only slowed when my goal was in view.
Melbourne was so beautiful at night-time, and the bridge by Flinders Street Station was my favourite spot to admire the twinkling lights as they bounced off the Yarra River.
I placed my violin in front of my feet, making sure my toes were constantly touching the hard case, and leaned on the side of the bridge overlooking Southbank.
Tessa had told, I was sure. My previous plan of moving to South America suddenly didn’t seem so ridiculous, and I found myself scheming my escape in my head.
The wind whipped around me, picking up stray pieces of my hair and tossing them about, I reached into my tote bag, pulling on a coat. Sighing I leaned on the railing once again and looked down at the water.
Maybe if I were fast enough, I could jump before anyone could stop me. I would die on impact or drown, and then I could join my parents and spend the rest of eternity laughing at Tessa’s ridiculous life from some cloud high above.
And when I wasn’t doing that, I could be partying with Elvis. Life could be sweet!
I tried to imagine what my parents would be thinking if they could see me now.
My little brother had been eight years old when he had died. He had been goofy and silly. He would think I was being stupid now.
My Mother would be worried but she wouldn’t tell me. She’d simply bake a lot and watch me out of the corner of her eye. And my Father? Probably laughing.
The cool breeze played with my hair, but I noticed that the cold was biting into my cheeks more than it should. It was then I realized that they were wet with tears.
I quickly wiped them away and wondered why the hell I fucking cared! He had heard me sing by accident and had asked me to perform for him once more. I had.
He had performed a kiss scene with me stealing my first kiss. But it was all acted, none of it was real! And I had left, to avoid an awkward situation. Simple!
So then why did I feel like this?
I stood there as crowds of people passed behind me and bumped into my back. I let them shove me from side to side as I leaned on the concrete railing, staring out at the river before and the buildings along the bank.
The lights twinkling on the water mocked how I should be feeling. Twenty-one years old, I should be full of youth and careless joy, getting drunk at some party.
But as it was, I was standing on the side of a bridge contemplating suicide.
“Hello, young lady” someone reeking of alcohol and obviously drunk purred in my ear.
“Goodbye” I said simply, bending down I grabbed my violin case and stalked away.
“Aw, don’t be like that sugar!” he called after me, but I was already halfway across the bridge and passing the large construction site on the other side.
I let the tears fall as my life seemed to keep falling apart. I wandered to some strange sculpture on the bank that looked like the letter U slightly twisted. It was a dark brown, looking black in the darkness, and mounted on a round slab of concrete with gravel on it.
I sat down, the gravel crunching under my weight, and laid my violin case next to me, stroking the fabric of the case affectionately.
After my parents died, music was the only think I had left in my life.
Now it seemed, I had lost that too.
I waited anxiously backstage. Anxious for a few reasons.
One, I wanted to find Felicia before she did anything stupid- like throw her violin away. I wanted her to be happy, I hated seeing her miserable.
But two, with every second that I stayed back-stage, the more likely it was that Gerard would find me.
Why I was hiding I wasn’t exactly sure.
But I think it was because last night had been perfect. And if we tried extending… whatever it was that we had that night, then it would only get complicated.
I hated complicated. It was probably why I was one of the least complicated people in the world.
Just look what ‘complicated’ had done to Felicia!
Ben emerged from his dressing room, wearing jeans and a black coat, “So – where to?” he demanded.
I opened my mouth but was interrupted, “Hang on!” called Anna as she closed her door, “Don’t think you two are leaving without me!” she said coming to my side as she pulled on a light brown coat.
“Yarra River” I said as we began to walk, I paused as they both froze a few steps behind me, eyes wide and mouths agape, I couldn’t help but laugh at their shocked expressions, “No, don’t worry! She’s not the suicidal type” I said pointedly.
They both heaved a sigh of relief and their postures relaxed, “She just likes to admire Southbank at night” I explained further as we began walking once again.
Looking up I saw at the end of the hallway, blocking the exit, was Gerard.
He hadn’t noticed me yet as he was in deep conversation with the plays direction Simon Phillip.
“Um” I said coming to a halt, both Ben and Anna stopping just in front of me, I didn’t take my eyes off Gerard, “Lets go this way” I said nodding to the other exit at the end of the hall.
“Why?” asked Ben, his brow furrowed in confusion.
I started to panic, any moment now Gerard was going to look this way and I would be sprung, “because I suddenly have a hankering for fishy smelling alleyways” I said urgently.
Turning on my heel I dashed down the hallway as fast as I could, without drawing attention to myself, and headed out the door into the back alleyway which did indeed, smell like fish.
I sighed in relief when only Ben and Anna came through the door. Sighing we began walking, quickly turning down the lane to get onto a main street that smelled of smog instead of fish.
“So, what do we do once we get there?” asked Ben.
I shrugged, “Stick your tongue down her throat again, seemed to work well for you last time” I said flippantly.
“Just tell her the truth” said Anna soothingly.
“Oh the truth is so over-rated” I droned as we continued walking through the busy streets of Melbourne.
I curled up against the sculpture that really wasn’t art and hugged my knees. I didn’t know why I wasn’t going back home. I think I just needed to… well, I didn’t really know what I needed.
It was calming, however, to just sit there and stare at the buildings and lights, glancing jealously at the happy people going about their busy Saturday Nights.
There was even a couple making out on a bench on the other side of the road.
I evaluated the couple. I looked as their lips locked and their tongues danced together, while their hands raced up each other’s bodies passionately. Had Ben and I looked like that…?
I snapped my head away to clear the thought from my mind. He was gone now.
I never had to see him again, never had to hear him sing. I could get a job in the Melbourne Symphony and… and…
I sighed. I had no idea what I was going to do.
I leaned back against the metal and looked up at the few stars I could see. Well, if my parents were up there somewhere watching me, they were no doubt disappointed.
I was wasting away and had thrown away the one good thing in my life because I was scared. I didn’t remember ever in my life feeling so hopeless.
I just let my forehead fall on my knees as the tears silently came.
As we passed Flinder’s Street Station and the bridge overlooking the Yarra came into view, the three of us picked up our pace until we were jogging.
Not an easy feat for Anna and I, who were both in heels.
Ben, however, raced ahead of us searching frantically through the throngs of people. When we finally got to him he turned to us with eyes fanatic with worry, “She’s not here” he panted.
“Thank you , Captain Obvious” I replied rolling my eyes. I walked to the edge of the bridge and looked down into the dark water.
“What are you looking for?” asked Anna curiously.
I shrugged, “A floating body or violin” I said absently before I turned back to them with a smile.
Ben however, was not amused, “Not funny,” he growled.
I rolled my eyes, “Just trying to relieve the tension” I said innocently.
“Where do we look now?” Anna asked, turning to me.
I looked back to Southbank and shrugged, “She wouldn’t have gone too far” I said looking around vaguely, “She likes it here. It reminds her of her parents” I explained.
We began to walk away in the direction of Hamer Hall, eyes flitting everywhere as we tried to find the girl who seemed to have a talent for running away.
As we wandered around trying to pick up any clue. I wondered – just for the cliché-ness of it all- if she had maybe dropped her shoe? –
We approached a dark area before the main building housing most of the restaurants were. We had sort of split up, all of us at least ten meters apart.
All of us blindly looking in the dark for a girl who didn’t want to be found.
I sighed feeling hopeless and annoyed at the same time. That’s when I heard it. A small sniffle.
Stopping dead in my track, I peered into the darkness.
It was there I saw her, curled up in a ball by large twisted sculpture, looking utterly child-like.
“There!” I called pointing into the darkness.
Oh, shit! They were here! How the hell were they here?
I didn’t have time to think as I clumsily grabbed my violin and hopped off the base I was sitting on. Stumbling away as I ran down the footpath I didn’t look back as three different sets of voices called my name.
My shoes were hurting my feet badly. Which wasn’t surprising since I had been running more over the last week than I had in years. I kicked them off and I barely wasted a moment as I leaned down and snatched them up, still running.
I had my violin in my right hand, my large tote bag falling off my right shoulder, and my shoes in my left hand. I continued to run, not bothering to apologize to everyone I crashed or bumped into.
I heard three sets of footsteps behind me. I didn’t know why I was running.
Hell I didn’t know much of anything these days. What I was thinking, what I was doing, or what I was feeling. I just wanted to go to sleep and wake up back in that un-complicated life I had had before… well, before.
I quickly hopped down some steps to pass through Flinder’s Street Station. I managed to somehow get through the crowds unscathed, and emerge on the other side of the street. It was crowded and the pavement was rougher, but I kept jogging.
I ran down the road and thanked God that the pedestrians were crossing as soon as I reached the intersection. I sprinted across and continued to run back to my apartment. After three minutes I felt like I was surely going to die.
If it were much longer the suicide option would be coming back into play “Death-From-Running in High Heels” had a nice ring to it.
Me feet ached and my lungs burned. My hand cramped from holding my violin and my shoulder throbbed from the weight of my tote bag.
But I kept running.
If I kept running I could outrun my problems.
I could see my apartment building just up ahead… now if I could just make it to the lift before them…
I crashed through the doors and waved my keychain in front of the sensor, opening the second sliding doors. I slid around the desk and literally only came to a stop because I hit the wall by the elevator.
I pressed the button once, twice, three time… oh this was taking too long! I jammed my finger onto it and held it down.
A lift to my left opened and an elderly man stepped out, I practically knocked him down as I rushed into it as he was trying to leave, quickly pushing my floor number.
“Sorry!” I called to him as the doors closed watching as he grumbled under his breath.
The doors shut with a small ‘ding’ and I breathed a sigh of relief. I was safe.
For the moment.
By the time we got to Felicia’s apartment building, I was out of breath. I rounded the corner to look into the lobby just in time to see the doors of a lift close- catching a glimpse of Felicia.
“Oh god!” I huffed as I clung to the wall, “why can’t I have normal friends?” I complained as I practically crawled through the lobby, “Or at least a fat one who hates running” I said as I braced myself on my knees.
Anna was slightly more composed as she leaned against the wall, her face flushed as she panted slightly.
Ben, miraculously was still up and darting around the lobby like a mad man, he went to a door and opened it, revealing the stairs, “What floor is she on?” he demanded frantically.
I sighed, “relax Romeo” I said, taking a deep breath in I straightened up and went to the elevator and pressed the button. I grinned in smug satisfaction when the doors opened straight away.
I was pretty sure Ben tried not to glare at me as we all filed in. Pressing the number nine calmly, I hummed as the elevator began to move.
As we gently floated up I pressed my sweaty forehead to the mirrors on each wall and breathed heavily.
“I sure chose one hell of a day to wear heels,” Anna muttered to herself reaching down to touch her ankle tenderly.
The door hadn’t even opened the whole way before Ben was out looking wildly down the hallway. Cool as a cucumber I walked out of the elevator and down to the left, Ben right at my heels and Anna trailing behind us.
The teal door at the end was hers, stopping, I tapped softly.
“No!” came a cranky voice from inside.
I couldn’t help but smile, I was strangely enjoying myself, “Don’t you want to know who it is?” I called, working to keep the laughter out of my voice.
“Go away Tessa!” she practically screamed from inside.
I sniggered, but one look at Ben’s face told me he didn’t think it was funny.
Rolling my I eyes I shamelessly reached into my left bra cup – earning a weird look and an “Uh…” from Ben – and extracted a warm silver key. I smiled in pride and quickly shoved it into the lock, twisting it until I managed to push the door in and stumble into Felicia’s home.
She was sitting on the couch, looking like shit; she stood in alarm looking at me in shock, “What the hell?” she demanded.
“That’s what you get for giving me a key to your apartment!” I said simply as I let Ben and Anna in after me.