I’m very pleased to have my story “Skeleton 33” published at Eunoia Review. This story, like my story “Listen to Me” has to do with suicide on the Golden Gate Bridge. The year I wrote the first draft of this story, 33 people died from jumping off the bridge. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, in 2014, 38 people died, which is, sadly, about average. 161 people were detained because they seemed at risk of jumping. A long-awaited suicide barrier is still in the works. The bridge is beautiful, but it is also a magnet for the desperate and depressed.
In addition to news reports of bridge suicides, a painting also helped inspire this story. Many years ago, I worked for company that, instead of the usual bland corporate art, put up paintings with riskier content. Over the printer area near me hung a large painting called (as I recall) Skeletons of the Bay. At first it looked like a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge with wave tossed water beneath. As you looked closer, though, you could see skeletons below the whitewater, particularly one large human one. Every time I went to pick up a print job, I looked at those skeletons. Some of the employees complained about the company’s art (or put derisive post-it notes on it) but I liked it. It wasn’t always pretty, but it made me think. When I was waiting for a print job to finish, I could look at the painting and contemplate something more important than my weekly status report.
When Eunoia Review accepted this story for publication, I was hoping I could find some information about that painting on the Web. However, I could find nothing. It’s been two decades since I saw that painting, so I can’t even remember the name for sure, and have no idea who the artist was. But I hope she (or he) would be glad to know I was still thinking about that painting after all these years, and that when I saw an article on bridge suicides, I remembered that painting, and thought about it as I wrote "Skeleton 33."
Ann Hillesland writes fiction and essays. Her work has appeared in many literary journals, including Fourth Genre, Bayou, The Laurel Review, and Sou’wester.
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