Hold Me Close
Tom had pulled over onto a shoulder that was a bit wider than most places and had gotten out of the car. He walked across the highway and stopped at the edge of the other shoulder as if to admire the view. He was looking out across the steep ravine, easily a hundred foot drop from where he stood, his shins up against the guardrail.
The trip out West had been his idea, but it fit right into something Gwen had been mulling over for a couple of months now; how to kill her husband and get away with it. She had run through countless scenarios, most borrowed from movies or novels, and just couldn’t come up with one that just felt “right.” One that said to her, “You could do that and get away with it.” Surely there would be opportunities in the West with cliffs and ledges and deep lakes and…, well, more options than Chicago offered. Too many people around all of the time.
They had been married just after they finished college which had been almost seven years ago. Was there really something to that seven year itch thing? Gwen’s reasonable self had asked her recently more violent self why she didn’t just divorce him. “Because he’s been awful to live with and he’d be awful to divorce,” she had replied to that wimpy self. “And he’d find a way to stay in my life forever.” The whole self talk thing had been happening more and more as of late. However, the reasonable self hadn’t been heard from in weeks. A number of different versions of the violent self had taken complete control and filled Gwen’s head with hateful chatter during her waking hours. And except for this out-of-the-blue suggestion that they go out West for a week or two, conversations with Tom had recently pretty much dwindled to hello and goodbye grunts.
Gwen figured Tom was maybe feeling bad that he’d been such a jerk for the last couple of years and that he thought the trip could give them a fresh start. “It’ll take more than beautiful scenery to get this train wreck of a marriage back on track,” Gwen had mumbled under her breath. They had left Chicago two days ago and that morning had pulled out of a Hilton Express in eastern Colorado heading for Sedona, Arizona. The highway from Flagstaff had become an incredible route of twists and turns as it neared Sedona.
“Hey, Gwen, come look at this,” Tom called from over by the edge of the drop-off. Though he didn’t turn around to see if she was coming, he had heard the car door slam and now heard her feet scuffing gravel on the shoulder of the road. Thinking to himself, “Nobody around for miles. If I can get her over here, it’s going to be a piece of cake.”
“I can’t believe it’s going to be this easy,” Gwen whispered to herself as she walked over to where Tom was standing and pretended to be awed by the view. “It’s so beautiful,” she said grabbing his arm and pulling him forward. At that same instant, Tom had turned and grabbed Gwen’s arm and had also pulled her roughly forward. The combined pulling threw them off balance and their momentum carried them both over the guard rail. Whether out of fear or reflex, they wrapped their arms tightly around each other. Screaming, they hurtled to the bottom.
Two days later the police were called by another couple who had stopped to admire the view. Looking down, they had spotted Gwen and Tom. Their arms were still wrapped around each other, though the impact of the fall had somewhat loosened their death grip. The coroner’s investigation ruled it a double suicide. The romantic connotations of that ruling, so inappropriate in Gwen and Tom’s situation, would have had them laughing at the irony of it — or gnashing their teeth.