Avery's friend dies, and she knows why. Can she learn from the reasons?
|Have you ever watched something fall? Something that meant a lot to you, something that you know was irreplaceable. Maybe it got too close to the edge, and it just fell. Maybe you couldn’t grab it in time and it slipped through your fingers.
I have. My friend, Katie, she fell. I wonder what it was like for her, standing on the rail, looking at the water floor underneath her. Was she fearless? Or was she frightened? I guess I'll never know. I do know why she died though, she told me. If only I stopped her, she might still be here. If only I heard her, if only I really listened to her. I did get my chance however, but it was just too late.
I was driving home from shopping when I passed over a bridge. This bridge wasn’t commonly used anymore because another bridge was built to support more places. I used it sometimes when I felt like taking a shortcut. Today was a shortcut day, and maybe it was destined to be.
While driving, I saw a silhouette of a person getting onto the rail. I couldn’t see the who it was because of the dim lightening of light poles so I parked and got out of my car. I was walking over to the figure, when I noticed that it was Katie. Her brunette hair that hung just past her shoulders and the black shirt she was wearing was blowing with the wind. However, her blue skinnies stayed tight to her skin.
Standing on the top rail, and holding the light pole, Katie was looking straight like she was dreaming or remembering. I walked closer, curious and frightened about what she was doing. The light above was all that let me see her. "K-Katie?" I called, my voice shaking. She whirled around, losing her footing but regained it. It was then that I noticed she was barefooted. I shivered noticing that her face didn’t change from the mistake. Instead her face was full of wonder, maybe as to why I was here.
"What are you doing up there?" I questioned still moving closer. The wonder was gone and now a new emotion that I couldn't place came about. It was a mixture of anger and hope.
"I'm getting some air" she said warily.
"Come down please, I'm scared you'll fall." My hand was reaching out toward her hoping she would take it and climb down.
"That's what my mom used to say. When I was little, my dad always took us to the pier for him to go fishing. I was curious as to what I could see in the water. I always hoped for a fish to be swimming by so I could warn it about the bait on the poles. When I’d get too close to the edge I would always feel a thrill. The thrill of being on top, knowing that nothing could get me. That it would be my escape from everything. I would bend down and try to touch the water but my mom would notice that I was getting close and told me that she was scared I would fall and that I needed to get away from the edge. I would be mad but when she said that, it made me think that she actually cared about me, that I was capable for her love.” As she talked I took steps forward, getting closer to pull her down from the ledge.
She stopped talking suddenly and angrily said, "What? You don't want to hear my story? If you come any closer...” She paused before she said, “I’ll jump." It was as if a rod was stuck in my back as I straightened up and stopped walking forward. I knew I had to save her. She was my friend after all. I should've listened to her when she was talking. I should’ve been a better friend and noticed the signs. This was my only chance of trying to save her.
“Okay, I’m not walking. Finish but don’t jump, please” I was so worried. I didn’t want her to jump. I just needed to save her. I didn’t know that the effect of her jump would hurt so many people.
Her eyes narrowed at me as she said, “Alright, as long as you don’t move, I won’t jump.” I nodded my head but didn’t move. She continued as if nothing happened. “My mom never paid me any attention, nor did she care. No hugs or kisses. No hellos or goodbyes. Not even one I love you.” Her eyes were tearing up and she looked away from me.
There was a rumble in the distance and I knew a car was passing. It didn’t slow or stop but kept going. I couldn’t tell if the person didn’t care or didn’t see. I was still looking at Katie when she continued speaking. “My mom was always the type to just let loose, party, and have fun. Her motto was, ‘let’s party till the break of dawn and then party some more’.
“Right about the time I was getting home from school, she would be sending her boyfriend at the time out the door. Sometimes though she wouldn’t be there and the man would. I didn’t know where to go then, because you see I had no friends then. I walked in and I tried to ignore him, but he came in my room and after about the 3rd time of telling him to get out, he reached for me.” She was shivering now. I knew what happened next but the words out of her mouth sent a frightening shiver down my back. “He raped me. I tried screaming but he covered my mouth.”
I gasped, unable to form words that could comfort her. “Katie… I’m so…” She put her hand up to stop me from talking. She didn’t say anything for awhile, but by then tears were already falling from my face.
“Don’t cry for me please. This is actually the first time I’ve ever said it. I couldn’t tell my mother because she wouldn’t have done anything. She couldn’t have, the damage was done. So I left the house, scared, because I didn’t know where I was going to go. I thought about where I felt remotely safe and I went there. Do you know the baseball park over by our school?” I nodded while wiping away the tears which were slowly drying. I had no clue what to say, but even if I did she didn’t give me a chance to talk.
“I left the house with a packed bag of clothes and some food before my mom came home. The guy was passed out on the couch because he was so drunk. I had escaped; I was free.” I was shivering. I had no idea this had happened to her. I understood why she didn’t tell anyone, everyone lost their virginity to someone they loved not to someone raping them. She wouldn’t want this rumor to spread.
“The baseball park was crowded as always; varsity games were going on. I cried watching every game, my face was red, and yet nobody came up to me. No one asked me if I was okay. Nothing. So after spending the night there, I had the plan. Death. Away from all this pain, away from the nothingness, but believe it or not, you temporarily saved my life. Remember the first day you came over and talked to me?”
Yes I remember it all quite well. It was last Wednesday at Lunch. I remember seeing a girl sit by herself for about the hundredth time. I wouldn’t approach her before because she looked frantic and scary. Now that I know the reasons I wished I had gone even when she looked unapproachable. Her hair was pulled into a messy bun and she had bags under her eyes. She would eat quickly and leave, everyday. Nobody ever talked to her and she was all alone, always.
On that day when she looked somewhat approachable, Sally, my best friend and I went over to her table. The girl noticed I was coming and she quickly packed up, hoping to leave before I caught her. I was able to make it there before she left.
“Hi, I’m Avery. I noticed you were all alone,” I smiled at her. “Would you like company?” She only nodded so I continued talking until she felt the need to jump in. She told me her name was Katie Wellington. I found out that she lived just a few houses down from me.
That was all I got from the conversation when Sally tugged at my arm, “Party next Thursday at your ex’s houses, wanna come? It’s a big Christmas bash.” She waggled her eyebrows. “Look just invite your boy and you’ll have all the protection you need from him. I’ll have the condoms because you know he’ll forget.” She nudged my arm playfully but before I could say anything she continued.
“Katie can come too, if she wants of course.” Her plan to get me off the sex topic worked. I looked at Katie with big eyes that practically begged her to say yes, but all she did was shrug her shoulders, but mumbled a “sure” that only I could hear.
“Yes, she’s going.” I told Sally. To Katie I said, “And we’re going shopping!” She sat in silence and I gave her my address and plans to meet up the day before the party. I left after that. I left her alone with her thoughts. Her need to drag out her suicide was my fault.
Wet drops of rain brought me back to the bridge. Katie didn’t say anything; she was looking up with her eyes closed and taking in the rain, her last rain. After a minute of silence, I cleared my throat and asked her a question.
“Why are you telling me?” Katie’s eyes popped open. “Why tell me, when there’s a slim chance of saving you?” She laughed. It wasn’t a full hearted laugh nor was it a happy laugh. It was a mocking laugh; I’ve heard it too many times not to tell.
“This was never for you to save me! I’m here; I’m jumping. You will not put me through misery again. Do you even know what happened after you talked to me? I went home and cut myself. This pain felt good; it felt closer to death.” I looked at her arms, but they were scar free.
“I didn’t cut my arms or wrist; I cut my thighs. Why would I want people to try and stop me from killing myself?” My stomach did a flip. “You happened to come by on mistake so I thought ‘why not? Why not tell Avery how she couldn’t help everyone she ever talked to.’ I know this is mean of me. But I also know that you had good intentions, you just didn’t have the ability to notice the signs, life changing signs. Now maybe you will. And maybe you’ll be able to save other people who have that slim hope of being saved.” I could only stare at her in disbelief. Her hair was now soaking because of the now pouring rain. Her T-shirt was sticking to her skin. Only for a moment did I wonder what I looked like at the time.
“Do you like the rain?” It was as if we were having a normal conversation on a normal day, but we weren’t. So I answered cautiously with, “yes, it makes everything refreshed and new.”
“That’s exactly why I like the rain too. I also like the fact that it can hide your tears when you’re walking down the street. After your interruption of my plans, I walked home. It was raining and I decided to take the short cut which happened to be over this very bridge. That day I knew this was the place I was going to die. Now to decide when; when can I die that nobody will try and stop me? Then I remembered, there’s a party, that everyone popular and even not popular was invited too. Everyone would be there. Except you! Why weren’t you there?”
“I was shopping. I didn’t get to shop because I took you shopping and I wanted to make sure you looked good. I was running late because there was a huge line at Buckle. I took the quickest way over there and I see you climbing on the railing. Of course I’m going to stop a suicide if I can.”
“Not this one! You don’t understand, do you? I want to die! I don’t want to exist anymore! These reasons that I’ve said are only a few. My whole life has been a big huge mess. Everything has gone wrong that could possibly go wrong. The only way to make this pain end is dying. Dying is a release from the imprisonment of our bodies. I want to be set free.”
“So you’re giving up?” I challenged her.
“If you want to call it giving up you can, but I’m calling it freedom. Just think, the last thing I get to do before I die is fly like a bird. Flying with freedom, that’d be great for my tombstone.” It was this moment, when I knew she was serious. I knew that unless I grabbed her, she was not living, and that no matter what I said, her mind was not being changed.
A delusional laugh escaped from her lips. “One day, Avery, you’ll see that life isn’t all rainbows and ponies. Jealousy and hate rule this world, and the people in it. It will soon destroy you, just like it did to me.” She was almost screaming by the end of her rant and she was breathing heavily. She was looking behind me, daydreaming.
“I’m giving up because I don’t want to exist.
As soon as she spoke her last words, the world stopped spinning and everything was in slow motion, but it all happened so quickly. Katie closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Her arm that lay by her side mirrored that of the other. I tried leaping toward her to grab her and pull her down but I was too late. She pushed off with her feet and was falling the 300 feet to the water.
All I could do was scream her name and cry. She was gone, I couldn’t save her. I looked over the rail and I saw her pasty white skin floating in the water. There was no one around as I fumbled with my phone. Who was I going to call? The police? My friends? My mom?
I could hear the breaking of waves but from my tears I could no longer see her body. I turned away from the water as if it would take the memories away but the last sight of her, calm with what she was going to do, was just too much. I headed to my car and when I looked at the mirror, my face was red and tears were still rolling down my cheeks.