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by BP | Score: 6800

The water rushed beneath them. From the bridge it appeared as if chunks of ice floated down the river, wafting along like debris from a fractured iceberg. Samuel mentioned as much, pointing to a particularly convincing wave as it passed by.

"Rivers don't freeze." Shan said. Her coat was gathered around her. Bright yellow and warm, yet she still shivered with like the wool wasn't even there.

Sam thought about that for a second. Did rivers not freeze? Ever? Or just not rivers around here?

"I can fix this," he said, finally. "I have before."

Shan said nothing. Her gloved hand had made it to her neck where it tugged at the ends of her coat, pulling it tighter than the fabric would allow. "Not this time, Sam."

He opened his mouth to say something then stopped. Everything he wanted to say was there, caught in his throat like a hunk of ice. Shan had been sobered five years. Three of them with him. When you love someone struggling with sobriety, their struggle sometimes can feel like your own. If you let it. Both of you. Shan had always guarded her's with a cool indifference. Whenever Sam tried talking to her about her meetings and whether or not she felt pressured at any of the events her career had taken her too, she'd shrug her shoulders, muttered noncommittal little sound, then find something to do.

Over the years, Sam had convinced himself he'd learned how to decipher her various grunts. The higher the pitch, he believed, the more stressed she felt about the evening. She'd been chirping a lot recently.

The coffee he'd bought at the little café they passed by had gone cold. He didn't need to sip it to know that. Some things you can just feel. Without a place to toss it, and not wanting to leave it orphaned on the bridge, it had become this awkward thing keeping him from putting his hand in his pocket and warming up.

"I'm sorry." It wasn't much, but it had worked in the past. Sam apologized to people a dozen times a day. A nasty habit he'd picked up in his youth. Apologize and people begin to think you're a decent chap. Perfect cover for someone who knew they weren't but liked to convince themselves otherwise. "If I could just--"

"Stop. When mom... When I called you to let you know she passed, that wasn't an invitation."

"I wanted to help."

"You wanted to make yourself seen."

"That's not fair."

"I don't care. It's the truth. I know I can..." She lost the words. Her head spun, making littler circles with her nose. She always did that when what she wanted to say was true in the broad sense, but the details evaded her. Sam had been rocking on his heels, and this momentary pause had caused him to lean forward, put all his weight on his toes, as if the silence were pulling him in toward her. She had the kind of power over him, even if neither of them ever said it out loud. "A lot," she said, finally. A compromise if there ever was one. "My career hasn't been easy on me and, in some ways, I think that's even more true for you. I'm sorry, for that."

"It's alright." Sam was smiling. He could hear it in his own voice even if he couldn't feel it on his face. Step one, he thought to himself, always smile during a fight. Don't let her know how you feel. Great advice. It even worked sometimes.

"No. It's not. But I made a decision. It wasn't an easy one, but it was the right one. Samuel," shit. She never used his full name. Once or twice in the bedroom randomly, but beyond that, never. "I meant it when I said we're over. It wasn't a rash decision." He winced at the use of his own words being thrown back at him. He'd regretted saying it. Even told her as much. But some things cut deeper, and require more than average apologized to sanitize. "I thought about it. A lot. You have no idea how much I agonized over this."

Heat sprung up. Sam's eyes went wide and for a second he thought he might explode. Agonized. What about him? What about the agony he'd experienced the past four months trying to make things right between them. He'd almost lost his over the breakup. More complaints in the past four months about his behavior than the previous seven years. All because his life had been flung into the ether over this. And she was the one agonizing.

His hand tightened on the cup. He'd forgotten it was there. The hell with it. The hell with the bridge, and cleanliness, and the whole damn city. Screw Paris, and France, and the whole damn continent. His hand waved out like he was gesturing toward something. He'd meant to let go, toss the cup dramatically aside. But his fingers refused to budge. Even pissed it 

Completed challenges

The following challenges were completed during the writing exercise:

Begin Start typing to begin
Location A bridge
Words Reach 50 words
Sentence "I can fix this."
Words Reach 100 words
Letter Use the letter A
Character A sober fashion designer
Words Reach 200 words
Prop Include a cup
Words Reach 300 words
Words Reach 400 words
Event Someone passes away
Words Reach 500 words
Words Reach 600 words
Words Reach 700 words
Character A hot-headed administrator
Words Reach 800 words

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