After some great feedback I’ve moved Chapter 5 to Chapter 1 …
She could see it from where she stood. St. Paul’s dome shone brightly in the moonlight and it seemed to reach out to her in order to save her soul. But she didn’t want redemption; she wanted relief from the constant struggle and pain and the only thing that offered that was the deep, murky water below. She turned away from the cathedral’s stare looking instead into George’s sleeping face. It was thinner than it had been even yesterday, she was certain. Dark circles were evident under his tiny brown eyes and she was thankful they were closed instead of looking at her, lovingly as they always did. How did it all come to this in such a short time? Less than a year ago her life had seemed so happy, so full of opportunity and hope. A loving husband, two healthy sons and a comfortable home. But all that had somehow slipped away and now she was losing the only one left, her precious baby boy. She walked closer to the edge of Blackfriar’s bridge arching high over the dark silver water of the Thames.
Lights reflected off the water, bouncing around in the waves like diamonds. Mary thought of her mother’s diamond ring and how she loved to watch the sun reflect off it when she tossed her hands carelessly through the air while she talked. Her mother always used her hands when she talked, it was her flamboyant way. Sitting and watching, Mary had dreamt of being like her mother one day. Beautiful, graceful and so full of life. But that life was taken, ripped from her mother in a train accident only days before her daughter’s eighteenth birthday. Her father followed close behind, his heart unable to bear the loneliness without her. And now, Mary’s own husband dead and buried, her oldest son, Charles, following him to the grave only a few days ago. How much pain could she be expected to endure?
Remaining strong for her boys, she had faced the heartache of losing Daniel as best she could. Losing the house and all her possessions due to the lack of income would have broken her had it not been for her boys. Poverty, no matter how disgraceful, left no time for self-pity. Keeping her children fed had been her main focus in life for months now, even giving them as much of her own rations as she could and ignoring the rumbles and aches of hunger. But it had all been for nothing. Charles’ beautiful green eyes, so much like his father’s, had grown empty as tramp fever carried him away. And now George, her little baby, was showing the same symptoms, his eyes holding the same echo of death she had seen so much of these past few years. She couldn’t watch him suffer. Poor babies, they never asked to be cast out into the cold, damp streets of London.
The Thames spread wide below her, winding its way silkily through the landscape as it cut London in two. Until this year she had never even been south of the river. Her father said only criminals and prostitutes lived there, creating a vision of a dark and frightening place. She expected a shadow to hover over it or some other evil sign to resonate from the land but the sun shone down as brightly there as everywhere else in London; if it shone at all.
Blackfriars Bridge seemed the only option; it was quick and painless and she thought of no other way out. There would be no more worries, no more fretting about where they would get money for food or shelter for the night. Little George would cry no more with hunger or pain or shiver from the cold. She wouldn’t have to watch him suffer from the same ruthless disease that had ravaged through Charles before taking his life. Turning to her left, she focused on her favorite spot in all the world. Its dome glistened in fading moonlight and she thought of all the times as a child her family had gone to services in the sacred place. She had lit candles for her grandfather when she was only five; then more recently for her parents, husband and child each in their turn. It felt as if she had walked through its large oak doors too often for one lifetime. Stepping closer to the edge she thought of all those she had lost, and poor George so close to leaving her too. A tear slipped down her cheek unable to face lighting yet one more candle. She wasn’t strong enough to face it. Soon they would all be together again, buried in the same small churchyard in a little corner of London. She had already accepted the fact that she would never see them all in Heaven because of the sin of suicide but it was a price she was willing to pay. Only God could forgive her and only death end her suffering.
With her eyes on the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral, Mary whispered into the London night sky, ‘May God have mercy on my soul.’