She stood alone on the bridge. The city around her eerily still as if it knew she needed to be alone. There was no traffic. She could hear the river below her splash against the old stone pylons of the bridge. The sun would be coming up soon, but for now she was still safe in the darkness.

She stared down at the dark water. Her hand lightly touched her neck where a collar should have been. She remembered the night he told her how much he would like to put one there... but they had run out of time. A single tear fell from her cheek and disappeared down into the darkness.

A couple approached from the far end of the bridge. As they drew closer she could hear that the woman was laughing and teasing the man. They stopped a few feet from her, oblivious to her presence.

He seemed quite serious and she heard him tell the woman to stop. The woman laughed again and pulled away from him, waving something in her hand.

She stared at the couple, something about his manner, the tone of his voice, captured her in a way she had thought was not possible anymore.

As she watched, the woman leaned over the rail of the bridge and flung something into the water. She saw it clearly right before it disappeared, it was a hairbrush. The woman laughed again, but it was only an instant before the man grabbed her arm and pinned it tightly behind her back.

She watched, fascinated, as his other hand moved slowly up the now quiet woman's neck, grabbed her hair, and pulled her face close to his. She could see the immediate change in the other woman, she barely heard the woman's voice, very quiet and subdued... "I'm sorry Sir."

They stood like that for what seemed to be an eternity. She held her breath and waited, straining to hear them. He finally spoke, "Not as sorry as you will be when I get you home."

Her breath caught, a fire rushed through her, a need that she had thought she would never feel again. She had reacted to those words as if they had been spoken to her, and she knew that she could finally feel again.

They walked past her, the man still holding the woman's hair and walking her quickly along. The woman smiled at her as they passed.

She looked back at the water and for the first time in a long time, knew that she was going to be just fine. She unfastened the imaginary collar, dropped it into the water, and walked on across the bridge.

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