This story is by Jennifer Kelly and was part of our 2017 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Ramona rummaged through her purse. She remembered stuffing the shopping list in her bag before she left the apartment, but now, it was gone. She knew what Stan would say.
“If you would clean your purse out once in a while, you’d be able to find things.”
Shaking Stan’s voice from her head, Ramona gave up her search and took a deep breath. The smells of fall filled her lungs and calmed her. The dry, crumbling leaves gave off a musty odor, and a hint of cinnamon snaked its way out of the bakery as she passed.
Fall was her favorite season. The leaves turned, and the temperature cooled. Best of all, football games—pro, college or high school—dominated Stan’s attention. If she was lucky, she could read her gossip magazine while Stan watched the Jets/Patriots game. What more could a girl ask for?
“Her shopping list,” Ramona muttered as she walked toward the corner market. She hoped the brisk fall air would trigger her memory. She didn’t need a repeat of the time she forgot the Cheez Whiz. Stan didn’t stop complaining for a week.
As she meandered down the sidewalk, something caught her attention. A white blob perched on top of a building. Without her glasses, Ramona couldn’t tell what it was. She stopped in the middle of the sidewalk to dig through her purse. Pushing past a stick of deodorant and an empty breath mint container, Ramona found her glasses and shoved them on her face.
“No way!” Ramona exclaimed.
A woman, wearing a white wedding gown, stood on the building’s roof. A veil sparkled from her head. The wind at the top of the building whipped the bride’s dress around her legs.
Rooting around in her purse, Ramona searched for her binoculars to get a better look. She studied the details of the bride’s off-the shoulder dress. Ramona recognized it from the television show she watched when Stan went to the sports bar with his buddies. She loved the dress on television. Seeing it in person—even through binoculars—was better.
Sequins and beads covered the sweetheart neckline. A rhinestone belt in black accented the woman’s slender figure. Layers of bedazzled tulle created the biggest princess skirt Ramona had ever seen. A shiny black headband held the veil in place. Ramona frowned when she noticed the black sparkly straps around the bride’s shoulders. Those weren’t on the original dress.
Ramona watched as the bride stepped closer to the building’s edge and peered down. Following the bride’s gaze, she saw two men talking at the base of the building. The conversation stopped when the man dressed in a suit and tie pointed up at the bride. The other man, who wore some sort of uniform, waved at the woman. The bride waved back, and the men continued their conversation.
Who waves at someone standing on a roof?
Ramona plunged her hand back into her purse. She came up with her favorite lip gloss and a cracked makeup mirror. She tossed the lip gloss back in her bag but threw the mirror in a nearby trashcan. She made a mental note to tell Stan she cleaned out her purse as she resumed her search.
Reaching deep into her bag, she found what she wanted: her cell phone. Ramona pulled it out and scrolled through hundreds of apps. She sighed. Stan was right. She needed to delete some apps. Finally, she found the one she needed. She tapped the image and waited until her husband answered.
“Did you lose the shopping list? Because I told you—”
“Forget the shopping list, Stan. I’m across from the Harvey building—”
“You mean the building with the rainbow unicorn horn coming out the side?” Stan interrupted. “The one everyone protested?”
“Yes, Stan. That’s the one. It’s not a unicorn horn, though. The artist called it a unity pole. It represents equality between all people.”
“Sounds like a bunch of artsy-fartsy crap if you ask me.” Ramona heard the television in the background. The football commentator had begun announcing the Jets starting lineup. “Why aren’t you at the market? You know I need chips and dip before half-time.”
“Yes, I know your half-time routine.” Ramona rolled her eyes, glad her husband couldn’t see her. “But this is important. There’s a bride on the roof of the building. I think she’s gonna to jump. What do I do?”
“How do you know she’s a bride?”
“Because she’s dressed in a wedding gown and wearing a veil.” She peered through the binoculars. “And now she’s holding a bridal bouquet of white roses. She has a couple of calla lilies in there, too. It’s like the one I wanted when we got married, but you told me it was too expensive.”
“Holy crap, Ramona, why’d you call me? Why didn’t you call 911?”
“I don’t know. I thought you’d be able to tell me what to do.”
“Call 911. Get the chips and dip. Come home before half-time.” Stan muted the television. “Is there anyone else up there with her?”
“I don’t see any bridesmaids, if that’s what you are asking.” Ramona watched the bride walk toward the center of the roof. “But there are two men standing by the building. The bride waved at them earlier, but they don’t seem concerned.”
“Those are the only two people standing around?”
Ramona nodded and then realized Stan couldn’t see her.
“Yes, Stan. Those are the only two people around. Wait a minute.” The bride pulled a long black rope to the edge of the building. She fastened it to the pole, tugged on it, and then attached the other end to the black shoulder straps she was wearing. Nodding, the bride disappeared from the edge of the building again. “Okay, she put some sort of rope on herself and hooked it to the building.”
“Ramona, call the police There’s nothing I can do, and I’m missing the pregame.” She heard noise from the television again. “Can’t you go to the store and buy the chips and dip like I asked?”
Before Ramona could respond, the bride ran into view. She launched herself off the edge of the building and dove into the blue sky, wedding bouquet in hand. The bride reminded Ramona of a snowball flying through the air. Too scared to watch, Ramona closed her eyes.
When she didn’t hear screams or cries for help, Ramona peaked. Instead of smashing into the sidewalk, the bride bobbed at the end of the black rope, hovering over the two men. The man in the suit reached up to steady the woman while the other man worked on the harness. In a matter of seconds, the bride stood on the sidewalk, her wind-blown bouquet in her hand. The man in the uniform produced a small book and began talking.
“You’re not gonna believe this!” Ramona said as she realized what was happening. “They’re getting married. On the sidewalk. The woman bungee-jumped into her own wedding.”
“Ha. She fell in love.” Without waiting for Ramona’s response, Stan said, “Hey, don’t forget the chips and dip.”
“Technically, she jumped,” Ramona said to the dial tone, “and I won’t forget.”
She stood, watching the couple begin their life together. They seemed so happy, standing on the sidewalk, holding hands. She remembered how excited she was at the start of her own marriage. She and Stan watched movies together and took long walks in the park. Now, Stan watched football without her, and Ramona walked alone to the corner market.
Ramona shook the thoughts from her head. She didn’t have time for this. It would be half-time before she knew it. Dropping her cell phone in her purse, Ramona heard paper crackling. She reached in the bag and pulled out the lost shopping list.