Title: FOR THOSE WHO LISTEN
Genre: YA Contemporary
Word Count: 51,000
My Main Character's Most Fearsome Obstacle:
Aidan's not afraid of jumping off the Ben Franklin Bridge—what really frightens him is living. He's been working up the balls to jump since his dad committed suicide a year ago on Christmas, and at this point, death looks like the only option to escape his grief. He expects it to be difficult—but what he doesn't expect are the two other teens who show up at the bridge with intentions to die on the same night.
It's two hours to Christmas, a hurricane is brewing, and seventeen-year-old Aidan is going to jump off the Ben Franklin Bridge. Really, he's got perfect timing—his dad did the same exactly a year ago, and in his mind it'll be the present his mom, who's already moved on, always wanted. But then he realizes he's not alone. Two other teens had the same idea.
Out of empathy for their spectacularly horrible situations, Aidan talks them down and tries to escort them home. But when the storm forces the three to take shelter under a closed-for-the-holiday supermarket's awning, shy transgender boy Chris helps them break into the store. While waiting out the hurricane, Aidan and Chris bond over food fights with bread products and trust falls off aisle dividers, while Mara flirts with Aidan by quoting Sylvia Plath and indie rock. For a moment it doesn't matter that they'll all have to face their families when the rain stops; for the first time in a while, Aidan feels alive.
But when Chris and Mara fight, things quickly turn hostile. Soon he and Mara are at each other's throats, and all three begin to rethink not dying when they first tried. So when Chris tries to die a second time, Aidan and Mara have to work through their animosity to help save his life—and their own in the process.
First 250 words:
Between the screaming of my thoughts and the wind, I almost didn't notice two other people trying to kill themselves alongside me.
My body convulsed, a constant and slightly annoying reminder that I was, in fact, doing this very thing I'd dreamed of for a year. When I regained control of my muscles and turned my head in the direction of the oblivious passing cars, I noticed the first person, a girl. Close enough so I could make out her face through the hair whipping all around. Her expression was painted in shades of shadow and abject terror, and perfect black sneakers with cherry-red laces tied in big bows peered out over the ledge like scared kids from under a blanket. On my left, someone else—short and silhouetted—stood, but seeing this one wasn't as big a shock after the first. Mostly a pang of pity took precedence where the nausea had been in my stomach.
What were they doing here? Well, I knew the answer, but why did they want to die two hours to Christmas? Most people I knew were ironically waiting for Santa; why weren't they?
Why wasn't I?
I jerked my head back down and decided two things: what they did was none of my business, and I would not lose my resolve. They were just two other people actively trying to die like me. Two other lost, confused, lonely people who were fed up with the world and trying to leave it. And much as I only wished harm to myself, I had no right to stop them.