The wind was strong. He turned up his collar and stuck his hands in his coat pockets. He looked out over the river. It was more frozen solid than he could ever remember it being. There were footprints in the snow covering the ice, evidence of some brave soul venturing out onto questionable ground, living life to the fullest. Or was it a display of idiotic hubris, someone who thinks themselves impervious to real threat, risking it all just for a thrill? The footprints led out from one bank, into a cluster near the middle of the basin, then back out to the other. He wondered if it was worth it. Did they impress whoever was watching with their courage? Or did they get the adrenaline rush they so craved? It was hard to say from up here on the bridge.
Cars sped by behind him as he stood on the sidewalk, thinking to himself about the stranger on the ice. He could spend all day here, it didn’t matter. He had nowhere to be, no one who cared where he was. At first it had been devastating to not have a full calendar every day; he had no idea what to do with himself. He’d based his entire sense of himself on his work, and so without it, he was nothing and no one.
The first few weeks had been the hardest. He didn’t shave, he didn’t shower, he barely ate. He was grieving. His company had been taken away from him by the people he trusted the most, the people who had helped him build it from absolutely nothing into a name known in countries across the whole world. His whole reason for being had been stolen by traitors. He wasn’t consumed with thoughts of revenge or retaliation. No, he knew when it was all over. Instead, he was bereaved. Time had passed, though, and he’d healed a bit. He still had no sense of self, nothing with which to assign a value to his own worth, but a calm almost serenity descended on him. There was nothing he could do to change it, so why worry?
Snow was falling now, the beginning of the storm that they’d been expecting. He looked back at the city skyline, the only real home he’d ever known. He’d been just as lost when he first came here years ago, but this time he wasn’t sure it could help him.
He stepped up onto the bottom rung of the railing. It really was beautiful out here. He lifted one leg over the iron fence and hopped onto the other side. The sun was beginning to set and a deep red flush exploded across the sky. He let go of the railing with both hands, balancing only on the thin edge of concrete. This is where he considered his position.
He thought about how much it had hurt him when his partners, lifelong friends all of them, had voted him out of the company that bore his own name. He thought about how meaningless his life had felt since then. He thought about all the missed opportunities and time that he would never get back. He thought about how cold the water under the ice must be.
But then he thought about how it had started. He remembered the thrill and excitement of those early days when nothing was certain. He remembered the satisfaction and pride he’d felt as his creation grew and expanded and he hired more and more people who felt like a family. He desperately wanted to feel it all, all over again.
He had an important choice to make.