For a second or two after waking, she was lulled by the atavistic relief that comes from surviving another night. Then Faith remembered what day it was, and reality shouldered aside her absurd peace of mind. Resigned to her destiny, she reluctantly abandoned the warm bed.
Despite her disquiet she took special pains with her ablutions, carefully shaving her legs and underarms, even neatly trimming her pubic hair. While her hands were still slick with soap, she took off her wedding ring for the first time since he left exactly two years ago on Valentine's Day. She left it in the soap dish.
After drying, she carefully applied her favorite scent to all the appropriate places, then walked over to the chair where she had laid out her favorite lingerie, the robin's egg blue ensemble she hadn't worn since the night before he left.
The panties covered her quite thoroughly but really couldn't be called granny pants. She shrugged her smallish breasts into the lacy bra, then slipped on taupe pantyhose and finished with the lace-topped slip. The dress was her best business wear, fresh from the dry cleaners.
Because it was still cool in mid-February, she added her favorite sweater, the dark blue cardigan with the double Ds. A scant smile flickered as she wondered, as usual, if she should be charged with false advertising.
She remembered just as she started to open the front door, and went back to the kitchen. Opening the freezer, she took out the rose he gave her that Valentine's Day just before he told her he was leaving. It was faded, but she carefully pinned it to her sweater.
She drove for half an hour, then turned off at the Lovers Leap sign—she wondered if it needed an apostrophe—she had passed so many times. After driving to the far end of the parking lot, beyond the only other car, she sat for a few minutes gathering her courage, then got out and walked back to the sign that warned against crossing the ankle-high curb.
Squaring her shoulders, Faith took one step over the curb but was stopped short by a loud cry.
Startled, she turned toward the man walking swiftly toward her, almost running. She overcame her shock and started to go on, but it was too late! He reached out with his left hand and took hers. His voice shifted from commanding to pleading. "Don't! If you don't, I won't."
That made no sense. He was a bit taller, sort of good looking, dressed in a clean, if outdated, suit. Why would he be—
"Whatever it is, you can deal with it." He squeezed her hand softly. "We can deal with it, together. I know we can."
That made even less sense. They weren't together, they didn't even know each other. Besides, he has no idea—
"You think you're all alone, don't you? That nobody cares, nobody understands." He looked at her with the deepest brown eyes she had ever seen. "I'll bet I would understand if you would just tell me. I might be feeling just like you do."
I doubt that. She looked down at his hand and saw the faint ring line. He'd been married. So what? I'll bet he couldn't possibly have been—
"I lost my faith, wanted to give up." Her heart skittered when he unknowingly spoke her name. "That's why I came here. Have you lost yours, too? Is that why you're here?" She noticed that his hand was strong, but held hers gently. "We might be able to rediscover our faith."
She shivered when he said her name again. O God! I want to tell him— "We could find it together. All we'd have to do is trust each other." She hadn't been afraid, but now she was. Trust? Again? I couldn't possibly—
"Take a chance. Who knows? We could be starting here instead of ending here. Wouldn't that be better?"
That wasn't what she wanted. No! No! I came here to—
"I would trust you with my life. Could you trust me with yours? Wouldn't it be worth the risk?" She gripped his hand so strongly that it shook, closed her eyes to shut out the confusion. When she reopened them, each looked deeply into the other's eyes. Neither dared to think. Both forgot to breathe. A lifetime passed.
She took a deep breath, then reached out took his other hand. They stepped over the curb and took the leap. Together.