Hope stepped out of the car with a shining smile on her face.  She looked about in rapturous joy, seeing the cool green depths of woods on mountains all about her.  Across the road from the parking lot was the entrance to Capilano, a national park that contained a long suspension bridge that connected two mountains over a river.  She had been there three years before, on March Break, when she had come to Vancouver to see its universities.

            She had told Ethan all about it on her return, how it was perhaps the most beautiful place she’d ever been.   The forest was so green, and the view from the bridge was absolutely heavenly.  She had told him to go there if he ever had the chance.

            “You remembered!”  She said, turning to him with that ecstatic smile upon her face.

            “Of course I did,” he said, leading her towards the entrance.  They walked amongst a small crowd of tourists.  It was only May so very few people were here.    They were smiling and laughing as they entered, walking the calm, beautiful paths of the park.  They joked about old memories, and the longer they were there, the more Hope began to believe that Genevieve was wrong, that Ethan was fine.  It was like old times, but better.  Ethan had matured, and seemed happier than she had ever seen him.

            They were on the bridge, staring down at the river below.  She pointed and smiled.

            “This has to be my favourite spot in the whole world,” She said.  “The view goes on forever!  It’s so beautiful.  I’m glad we finally got to share this.”

            Ethan had his arms on either side of her, resting on the bridge’s coiled wires.  He was protecting her from the few tourists that pushed their way past to get to the other side.  She found it warm and reassuring.

            “Do you remember it so well?”  He asked, his mouth inches from her ear.

            “Yes.  That was one of the best vacations I ever had.  How could I forget that March Break?”

            “I remember, too.”  He said.  “I remember thinking about you, going away to see those schools, and worrying.  Worrying that you’d move far away from me and that I’d never see you again.  Did you read that in the journals?” 

            She thought back, and realized that after her return that year was when he had begun acting strangely.  That was when his obsession had begun to spin out of control.  She thought harder, and remembered his journal about that time period.  His fear of losing her had grown and culminated in the obsession, before that they had just been friends.

            “Oh, Ethan, I never realized!  You were so worried about losing me, you did everything you could to convince me to stay!  And I was so preoccupied; I never took the time to understand!  I just thought you were getting too attentive, and it frightened me.”

            “All you had to do was tell me we would still be friends after you left, that you’d still have room for me in your life.”  His voice seemed sad.  “But you just left, and never even said goodbye.  I loved you, and you abandoned me!”

            His voice suddenly turned harsh, and she turned to face him.  His arms were still on either side of her, but instead of feeling safe, she suddenly felt trapped.  His eyes were no longer warm and charming.  They were colder than the mountain river below, fed by the snows above.  They seemed filled with a cold rage, and it chilled her to the bone.

            “Ethan, let me go.  I want off the bridge.”  She said, trying to push past him.  His arms were steel, as tightly wound as the coils of the bridge ropes, and she couldn’t budge them.

            “What are you doing?”  She asked, feeling fear creep up her spine and tears forming in her eyes.  “Let me go!”

            She wondered why there was no one around.  Hope cast panicked looks to either side of the ravine.  She realized that no one had gone by for quite some time, and suddenly became aware of the position of the sun in the sky.  It was now late afternoon, and the park had already closed.  Her walk with Ethan had distracted her so that she never noticed the passage of time. 

            Hope looked up at him, and he grinned.  It was not the warm, happy smile from before, however.  It was a sickly grin, like that of a skeleton, smiling eternally in death.  She began to shake with horror as she looked into his cold, dead eyes.

            “Y-you never loved me, you said so yourself in your journals.  It was just an obsession, a mistake.”  She spoke quickly, stammering with fear, yet hoping to say something that would convince him to let her go.  “In f-fact, the whole reason you were so obsessed, it was a mistake, too.  I wasn’t there, that day in the graveyard.  I never found you, it was someone else!”

            He glared at her even more fiercely, his grin disappearing.  He clutched her arms in a vice-like grip, and Hope bit down on her lip to prevent the scream that tried to bubble forth.  Maybe that was a mistake, but she felt the only way to calm him was to talk to him, and screaming would make it worse.  His fingers were squeezing so hard; she knew he was too strong for her.

            “What did you say?”  He demanded, his eyes blazing.  “What did you say?”

            “There was someone else, not me!  It wasn’t me!”  She said, the tears streaming down her face now.  His fingers seemed to be boring their way into her arms, and she was sure that she’d have bruises.  He wouldn’t let go, however, and she couldn’t make him.

            He started to laugh, but it was humourless and cold.  It was the laugh of a madman, a monster.  He looked deep into her brown eyes and the grin returned.

            “You know, you’re right.  The obsession, it was just a mistake.  I can see that more clearly now.  The signs were there, I just never saw them until now.  Thank you for clearing that up.”  He laughed again.  “I guess I loved you for all the wrong reasons.”         

            “What do you mean?  You said yourself, in the journals, that you hadn’t been in love with me.  You wrote that it was all just stress and fear of losing me, and a result of your own self-hatred…”  She was confused, because his words weren’t making any sense.  Ethan’s journals had been quite clear about this, she was sure.  He had matured and outgrown his infatuation, why was he now saying that he still loved her?

            “The journals said that Ethan didn’t love you.”  He said, grinning malevolently at her.  His next words came as a whisper, like a chill wind rustling over dead leaves:  “They don’t say anything at all about me.”

            “What?”  She asked, staring at him in total astonishment.  Suddenly, comprehension dawned on her.  The strange grin, the dead eyes, it all became clear.  “You’re not Ethan.”

            Her voice was quiet, like that of someone waking up from a dream.  Reality had just hit her full force, and with that sudden blow all else was erased.  Her fear, her trembling, her tears, all vanished in the face of this one fact.  This was not Ethan, and Genevieve had been right.  She had thought that something was wrong, and now Hope knew that she was right.

            “What is it, schizophrenia?”  She asked aloud in that same quiet voice.  “Did the bump on your head rattle things, or something?”

            “Not even close.  I’m impressed that you’ve got so much figured out so far, but you can’t even imagine what’s caused all this.  Nothing as simple as a bump on the head.  Truth is, hon, I’ve been with Ethan a long, long time.  He never really understood, and neither do you, but I’m what’s tortured him from within for so long.  I’m why he doubted himself, and I’m why he feared himself, and I’m why he hated himself.  I’m that dark half that no one wants to look at.  I’m the primal anger and fear inside everyone.  And now I get to come out and play.”

            He laughed again.  “I’m what frightened you away.  But now you’re back, and just as Lamb predicted, you’ve got me figured out.  Too bad.  I was going to keep you around, for old time’s sake, but you’ve given me a reason to let you go.”

            “What?”  She said.  Sudden relief spread through her.  This madman who looked like Ethan but wasn’t, he was going to let her go?

            “Yes.  You said that you weren’t there the day that the obsession was born.  That means you aren’t who I’m looking for.  I can finally let you go.”

            She looked up at him, hoping that he meant it, hoping that she could walk away from this and tell Genevieve about it, so that they could get Ethan some help so that this psychotic part of him could be erased.  But one look into his cold eyes showed her that her hope was misplaced.

            “I know what you’re thinking, Hope, and I’m afraid you’re very wrong.  Ethan doesn’t live here anymore.  And neither do you.”  He heaved, picking her up and lifting her over the ropes of the bridge.  Suddenly she was dangling from his grip high above the waters of the mountain river, and she realized what he had meant before.

            “Why are you doing this?”  She asked, tears streaming from her face as she dangled.

            “It’s quite simple, actually.  You broke your promise.  You walked away from me!” He snarled.  “That made you a liar!  Ethan could forgive that, but I never could.  But it’s all right, now.”  He said softly.  “I know how to deal with you now.  I just have to let you go.”  He repeated, with that same deathly grin on his face.  “If you see Ethan on the other side, give him my regards.”  And then he let go.  Too terror-stricken and surprised to scream, all Hope could do as she fell towards the river below was wonder Where is Ethan?  Where is he?  What happened to him?  And then all was black.

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