Three Clouds

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Rothery Sullivan (she/her)

photography by Sophia Archontis (she/her)

CW: depression, isolation, allusion to suicide

My fingers sting so I shove them into my pockets, digging my fingernails into my palm in search of heat. I can see my flat from here. The lights are on, so I walk slowly.
My numb fingers begin sliding down my palm, and when I look at my right hand I see that it’s bleeding. Not having a tissue, I shove my hand back into its pocket. The blood will dry eventually. The metal of the bridge and the breeze on the water send a chill through my body. The grey sky is reflected in the water, punctuated by the yellow lights of the flats lining the river. I stop in the middle of the bridge to take it all in. I rest my elbows on the railing, my right hand still clenched in a fist. When I stand in the middle of the river, everything on land seems still. Everything on the bridge seems still. Except him.

To my right, a young man stands on the railing of the bridge. He studies the water, his eyes unmoving despite his terrible balance. His feet struggle to keep their position on the slippery, frozen metal, his hands grip the railing. What’s he looking at?

Three clouds hang over the city center, each the same size, the same shape. They’re perfectly placed, symmetrical and delicately hanging over the heads of the thousands of people going home after a day of work. They won’t notice the clouds – people rarely look up, too focused on getting home to their warm houses. Except him. His eyebrows furrow as his eyes fixate on the water below. What does he see?

I lean my back against the railing, which sends a jolt of cold through my back. People have begun crossing the bridge – a mother holding her child’s mittened hand, a couple snuggled up to one another, a businessman whose suit is greyer than the sky. The world moves past us, me and the boy on the bridge. Maybe he just wants a break from the dizzying world, too. 

The clouds drift and eventually blend in with the rest of the sky. The bridge is deserted, except for me and him. The sky is dark save for the planes that flash overhead – their irregular blinking makes my stomach spin. The water below is black. The light in my flat is still on. 

I turn to my right, and the bridge is empty. 


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