In the distance, just as the train exited the tunnel, the woman jumped onto
the tracks. A flash of black hair and coat. Witnesses screamed. The train
shrieked to a halt. Jane glanced away, her heart in a spasm. She looked
again. Oh my God repeated.

Announcements appealed for calm, emergency services on their way. Jane
wondered at such a violent choice. The mess. Passersby spread the news by
phone. As the throng exited the station a blind man played on his keyboard,
America The Beautiful.

Jane walked until she found a church, no longer caring about the office or
her boss's wrath. Inside, in the far corner, white candles burned in rows as
long and deep as a choir. She lit a candle for the woman, and then changed
her mind, offering the intention for those she'd left behind.

She exited the church, and wandered the streets. On a corner, a bald vendor
sold slices of pizza. Her stomach lurched. She rode a bus, not bothered
where it would take her. When she spotted the yard sale, she disembarked,
wondering at the old man sitting out mid-week. Turned out he had nothing
better to do.

She hated people's castoffs, and only bought the rusted harmonica because
she felt sorry for the silver-haired man. He wanted three dollars. She gave
five. He grinned, showing a mouth full of straight, yellow teeth. From his
lawn, she pocketed a small white feather. A sign from our guardian angels,
her father had told her. He'd shot himself when she was eleven.

Her cell phone rang, her husband. He sounded peeved. Her boss had phoned him
wondering where she was. She mumbled something about an appointment, and
rang off. Even after the line went dead, she stood on the street, holding
the phone, liking how solid it felt in her hands.

Her boss phoned repeatedly. She answered at last, explaining that she
wouldn't appear to work that day, not for several days, on account of the

 You knew her?  he asked.

Light-headed, her chest tightened.  Yes.

It felt true.

Raised in Ireland, Ethel Rohan now lives in San Francisco. She has a will of steel that chains her to her writing desk.
Whenever she does break away the sun hurts her eyes. She's grateful to have published widely, in elimae, Wigleaf,
>kill author, Monkeybicycle, (So New) Necessary Fiction, and many others. Her blog is

I've known, and witnessed, the devastation that those who complete suicide leave in their wake. The pain of this type of loss, the torment of the unanswered "whys", can be crushing. It haunts, leaving tracks. While this piece is entirely fictional, I don't think it could have come into being if I didn't know that kind of grief.



Copyright 2009