She Couldn’t Wait
By Laura McHale Holland
He lost his soul on the Sundial Bridge up in Redding. That girl Ava did it. She sashayed across, her camisole straps sliding down her bare shoulders, her Coach sunglasses shielding her gaze from sunlight reflecting off the Sacramento River.
She smiled. He smiled back. She paused, said hi. He stopped too, said hello and imagined sitting across from her at a dimly lit bistro, their knees touching beneath a wobbly table. She slid her sunglasses to the top of her head. He looked into her eyes and saw ebony ovals, no irises, pupils or whites. Just solid black nothingness sucking him into a deep, endless, terrifying space.
He fell, screaming to the bridge’s glass and granite deck. She bent over, laughed into his ear, stole his wallet and called 911. She told the dispatcher her name was Ava; she was just another tourist enjoying the bridge when a young man suddenly collapsed in mid span. He must have hit his head; he wasn’t moving. She said she couldn’t wait for the EMTs; she had to catch the charter to Yosemite Falls.
Late that night at the hospital, he rose from his bed and walked to the bathroom. He turned on the light, looked into the mirror and saw his eyes were crow-black just like hers. He slipped out of the hospital unnoticed, swiping a pair of Prada sunglasses from an unattended nurse’s station along the way. Now he traverses the country, searching for Ava, one landmark to the next.