She stood at the top of the stone parapet, right at the very highest point of the bridge. She looked up at the stars because she dare not look down. Her heart was thumping in her chest, her hair was streaming out around her, buffeted by the wind and sometimes swirling around her face. Once she shook her head in order to get the hair from her mouth and she wobbled on her unsteady legs, she would not try that again.
Her clothes were being tugged and pulled by the wind as though by invisible fingers and gusts threatened to topple her from her precarious perch.
She thought about the reasons that she had climbed to the highest point that she had ever been to and whether they made sense to her still. They had made sense when she was preparing herself, they had made sense whilst she had been climbing and now, now that she was finally at the fork in the road that would send her onto one or another of the two separate paths in her life, she thought again on the reasons that she had decided to put an end to her present life.
Family, she had none. The job she worked at was no kind of career and though it was deemed that she had been very fortunate to secure herself a place as scullery maid without so much as a reference, she found that the other maids were snobbish bullies. The male staff members were lecherous pigs and she had neither the strength nor the energy to avoid or refuse their attentions any more. When she had finally succumbed to the attentions of the younger son of the household, she was held in greater disdain than ever before.
She was fortunate to have escaped without an unwanted pregnancy – that much she knew but she was mortified to find that someone had found out about her dalliances. The younger son, the favourite amongst the staff ‘below stairs’ was sent away so that he couldn’t get into more trouble and she was threatened to be sent packing if she so much as showed signs of being with child.
Her terrible and unbearable situation became worse. The maids blamed her for the son’s departure, as did the cook and the butler. Her colleagues had hardly spoken to her before he had been sent away, now, they sent her to Coventry. She was miserable and as such, her work suffered.
The housekeeper had summoned her into her office and told her in no uncertain terms that she had to pull her socks up or be off and on her way with no references.
That had been a little over a month ago and she had tried her very hardest to please everyone but it was impossible.
A few weeks ago, as she lay on her bed, worn out from the day’s work but unable to sleep for her misery; a thought had popped into her head:
“I’ll show them! They’ll be sorry when I’m dead and gone and they’ll know it was their fault.”
The thought was persistent and though she tried to push it away – nothing was bad enough to wish herself dead over, surely – it came back night after night and then it began to appear when she was being snubbed or told off. Then it would appear when she was working at her usual duties and pretty soon, the thought was there as a permanent fixture, running around in her mind. Her ultimate revenge would be her death, her blood on their hands.