2. Respect for the... dead?
Four days had passed, since the boy at the bridge had so thoughtlessly taken his own life, four days had passed, and I still hadn’t spoken to anyone about it, four days had passed and today was the fifth.
I felt guilty and angry, angry at having to be the one who saw what happened and guilty because no matter how many times that I convinced myself that it wasn’t my fault, I couldn’t help but feel like there was something I could have done or someone I could have told.
In the back of my mind denial thrived and so, accepting that he had drowned didn’t quite stick with me. It could be my way of trying to cope with what had happened to sleep easier because I hadn’t really done that comfortably for four days now either.
I refrained from attending my classes and even to linger for too long outside of my room since that strange night, for fear that someone might see right through me and know what I’d seen and done...nothing.
It was the middle of the day and my hunger got the best of me. I had been running low on snacks for a good while, how could I be feeling guilty about eating? I wondered, ridiculing my logic.
I remembered his confident smile and how perfectly normal I had assumed he had been in that moment when he turned to face me, with his striking good looks. Who was I to define what normal was anyway, I wasn’t exactly normal myself.
The scene kept playing over and over in my mind, eating me up inside.
I needed to talk to someone about this, not for grief but to try and come to an understanding somehow, with what had happened.
I decided to talk to Leah about it, and just as I unlocked my phone it rang, it was Leah.
Before I could greet her or say hello, her breathless words spilled out bombarding my ear with her eager words, “I’m soooo, sorry, Oli. I knew I said it would just be us...“- she began to explain-“...I guess I just got caught up, you haven’t spoken to me or texted, please tell me wh-”
“Leah calm down,” -I interjected- “I was just about to call you anyway”
“Really?... because I thought...” she continued to chatter, sounding cautious as if she were preparing herself to receive some scolding from me, unaware that I was about to confess something that she would now be a part of.
What had happened to me, was much bigger than being alone at a party and I was sure if I didn’t tell her now I would fall into insanity.
“Someone died the other night, the night of the party, well... not really I’m not sure, but they jumped off the bridge and I haven’t told anyone. And now I don’t know what to do”, I breathed out in relief glad to have shared my despair, but then afraid of what Leah would think of me.
There was a pause and then laughter “are you...Are you serious? He never really died, I’m confused, was—?”
“Yes I’m serious, I...I don’t think that he drowned and it was the night of the party,” I replied sounding as if I were about to cry.
“Oh...magosh you are serious?” .The amusement was gone from her voice and I held my breath once again. Here it comes I thought, “Are you sure?”
“Yes I’m sure”, I replied, “he jumped into the water and he never came up!”
“Maybe he just went for a swim...” she replied not sounding convinced by her words, I could hear how nervous she felt.
“In the middle of the night Leah,” I said flatly
“Or maybe, he can hold his breath for a really, long time...” she continued hopefully.
I sighed not wanting to continue the conversation anymore, it had been selfish of me to bring Leah into all of this, and she didn’t even sound as if she really believed me, or maybe she was still hoping I was joking.
“I probably imagined it anyway, I had a terrible headache”- I surmised, hoping I could end the conversation politely, without further question- “I have this meeting that I’m on my way to, so I’ll text you later ok?” I lied, waiting for her reply.
“Ok...yea and I’m sorry about the other night, I’ll make it up to you” she added quickly, relief evident in her voice, but I wasn’t upset or disappointed, I wouldn’t know what to tell me either.
“Bye,” I said, then hung up.
I sat quietly, the cell in my hand, trying not to cry and managed. I didn’t want to feel sorry for myself, but my life was really feeling sad.
Losing all my family within a year, except for my aunt, losing friends, because they didn’t know how to comfort me, all I had left was Leah and I couldn’t bear the thought of losing her.
I snickered grimly at the memory of my uncaring boyfriend, who I probably shouldn’t count as a loss since he disappeared without saying anything, but still, it had been painful and worst of all my grades, all faded within the space of a year.
It all happened so fast that it didn’t even seem real.
My aunt though caring was somewhat convinced that I was truly heartless because I didn’t have a nervous breakdown or act all insane. Others thought I was just strong, but the truth was, I just felt lost.
I didn’t want to be sad or fall apart. I didn’t think I would be able to pull myself back together if I did. I had to keep moving through motions day by day, even if didn’t know where it would lead me. Just like that, I felt the courage to go to my last class of the day and for the first time since four days ago.
*** *** ***
On my way from class, I stressed over all the work I had missed out for over four days, and I didn’t want to begin to imagine how much more I had from my other classes, but I felt better knowing I had lots of things to distract myself with.
I felt so much lighter, that I decided to stop by the notice board on my way to my room. I didn’t even realize they had career fairs and cultural exchange programs for full-time students. I really needed to get out more. I mused thoughtfully.
I took one of the flyers for the career fair and the flyer underneath it caught my eye, ‘SUICIDE IS 100% PREVENTABLE, SPEAK UP!’ and in an instant, the weight tumbled down on my shoulders, the face of that charming boy and his gorgeous smile made my throat feel dry and achy.
I thought of going back to the bridge, feeling the needed to pay my respects.
I knew nothing about this boy, where he was from, or even if there was anyone to who missed him, so I decided to visit the bridge, hoping it would make me feel better enough so that I would have one less mountain of thorns, to wade through before the end of the year.
*** *** ***
It was so cold and dark outside, and I wished I had worn pants instead of a thin floral dress. The only thing I loved about the weather at Compass was that it always seemed to match my mood and right now I felt a bit jittery at the thought of going back to where it had happened.
This would never be a happy place for me anymore, I thought, as I buttoned my black cotton cardigan, thank God, I had worn boots.
The wind blew harder as I approached the balusters, my heart galloping away in my chest, I felt a cold sweat coming on. I reached for the white rose in the front pocket of my dress and leaned against the baluster, closing my eyes and inhaling its fresh scent.
I really did feel a bit better coming back.
I began to imagine how things would have turned out if he hadn’t jumped. We would have started a conversation, about why he had been standing there all by himself and he probably would have asked me the same.
It could have been for the same reason that I did, this quite lonely bridge made me feel as if it would one day, lead me to another place somewhere I knew I belonged, and that was why I came so often, hoping that every day I went would be the day that fantasy came true .
I opened my eyes and held the rose over to the side of the baluster and suddenly, a familiar feeling of static vibrated through the air, raising the tiny hairs on my arm.
“Is that for me?” an amused voice asked suddenly, the rose fluttered through my stunned fingers and down into the water. I felt annoyed and a bit embarrassed that someone had been watching me.
I then slowly turned to look at who it was and my mouth fell, dumbfounded. I blinked rapidly trying to swallow, my throat tight and dry.
It was the boy from the other night, the one who had added a lake’s worth of anguish in my already angst-filled life, the same beautiful boy, who smiled so beautifully before he fell off the balusters and into the mirror-like lake.
That same boy was standing in front of me now, with a charming easy smile on his face.
He was only about five feet away from me, and I suddenly became wary of how I hadn’t been aware of his presence moments before he spoke. Up close I could see that he was a bit taller than I’d imagined.
Our eyes met and they were a beautiful hazel, he took three steps towards me before I heard myself utter, “stop!”
My tone, unsteady, I didn’t want to sound scared because I wasn’t, I was too busy mentally lecturing myself about why I shouldn’t be excited to see him.
I tried not to sound surprised. “I thought you drowned... but I knew you didn’t...” was all I could manage.
“Why did you jump? And how are you here?” and so a few questions I didn’t think I would have ever asked someone filled my mind, I felt so confused as the realization of the situation really caught up to me.
The night air grew colder than before as I shivered waiting for his response.
“Would you have preferred to find me floating in the lake?” he queried, seeming entertained by my confusion. “I’m glad I’m not...“- he chatted casually, - “...it’s not as if you told anyone important that I was gone, were you really worried?“, he seemed to genuinely want an answer for this and all I did was start at him stunned in silence.
He continued towards the baluster, hoisting himself up and now was close enough to where I stood. Was this another dream? I wondered it was either that or I must have lost it for sure, I concluded calmly. I closed my eyes and inhaled deeply more concerned with my state of mind rather than the person beside me.
“You aren’t, imagining this you know...” I heard him explain as if assuring me that I had not, in fact, gone mental.
I opened my eyes nodding slowly, he was still there. He then continued “I’m not suicidal”, he chuckled, “I used a portal...to get home”, I covered my mouth feeling a slight panic coming on. Is this, what being crazy feels like? I began to worry instantly.
“This isn’t a dream and I hope you’re not crazy because that would be really disappointing, but, if you don’t run I’ll explain”, he finished calmly.
It was as if he had read my mind, because I had the strongest urge to take off running, bawling my eyes out on the way.
Finally finding my voice I assured “you know what, you don’t even have to explain because I don’t want to know. You like jumping in lakes at night...I like mustard on my fries .” He raised an eyebrow his side smile deepening.
I decided that this was my cue to leave and as I walked away he hopped off the baluster and matched my pace. “This is the part where I show you proof?”
“Are you kidding me, right now? I don’t care.” I hadn’t been looking for a response but he kept stride with me anyway.
A flash of light and then a low buzz sounded on my shoulder, unfazed I looked to my right and there were tiny threads of bright white light weaving through the puff of my cardigans shoulder, I shrieked, stumbling into the stranger’s chest. He righted me steadily, his hold firm on my shoulders as he spun me towards him.
“What was that?” I whispered. He stepped back some distance lifting each of his hands far enough away from my face as they buzzed white electric-like pulses weaving around them.
I looked at my hands at once seeing nothing there, then back at his, and at him dumbfounded. He definitely had my attention now.
“I’ll explain if you stay” he offered, sounding hopeful, I nodded my head slowly as he brought his hands to his side
“My name is Del”, he said taking his place on the top of the wooden baluster once again.
“Olivia,” I managed turning where I stood to watch him, not wanting to blink, fearing he’d disappear
*** *** ***
“So, let me get this straight you’re from a place, a realm”- I couldn’t believe what I was saying- “called, Elvaraz and everyone there can do all these incredible things because of Mother nature using energy?...”
“Aura” he corrected.
“So mother nature is like your God or something?”
“No, it’s a force.”
“Then why is it called mother nature?” I probed.
“I guess it’s much easier for wonted folk to grasp if they refer to it as mother nature”, he sighed massaging his temples gently.
“I’m guessing that means people like me”, I reasoned, still thinking all of this talk of portals and realms was absolute nonsense.
“You’re nothing like wonted folk. If you really want to understand, I could just show you” he suggested.
I scoffed looking up at him only to realize he was being serious. ” Oh...no. It sounds interesting and all but why?” It was strange enough that he was telling me all this without a reason behind it. “Why me?”
He seemed confused by my reluctance “excuse me for not jumping at the opportunity to go off to some unheard of, magical land with a complete stranger, did I win some magical contest that I didn’t remember entering?” I joked half-heartedly. I still wasn’t sure I believed him or wanted to believe him.
“I don’t know what to say, honestly, wonted folk have offered wealth to see our land even once and yet you are content with asking questions rather than see it for yourself--”
I shrugged, “like you said, I’m not wonted folk. What did you mean by that?”
“It’s only something I can help you understand if we go to Elvaraz.”
“Well, I guess I’ll never know then.” I surmized, ready to bring our ‘magical’ conversation to an end. It was pointless for me to gather all this information.
“What are you afraid of?”
His blunt question ruined my mood instantly “I’m not afraid of anything, I’m sure there would be plenty of people who would be willing to give you their wealth or arm or whatever to go, why don’t you ask them. Why are you here anyway if your Elvaraz is so great?”
He didn’t reply immediately which made my interest pique for hearing his answer. “Well?” I urged.
“I came here for you” he answered simply fixing his hazel eyes on mine.
I pulled my gaze away from his. ” I don’t understand.” He then slid off the baluster shortening the distance between us.
“Elvaraz is your home too and the only way I can prove it to you is by taking you there, you’ll know it when you get there.”
I shook my head masking my disappointment, “how could I have been so stupid”, I muttered mostly to myself, mentally kicked myself for actually letting myself get caught up in all of this.
“I’m sure if I could move electricity around my fingers I would have noticed by now...look It’s really late and I should be heading back” I informed him.
“What about your family? You should ask them.”
“Hah, trust me on this one” I swallowed past the lump that had begun to form in my throat, “those abilities would have done me and my family a lot of good a year ago...maybe...I know who I am and I’m not who you’re looking for.”
A low rumbled filled the sky pulling me out of my reverie. “That’s all you, you know. You ever wondered why it rained when you were sad or how the temperature would drop suddenly when you felt alone...that’s who you are.”
“I know you’ve felt that this wasn’t all there was to you, there’s so much more. All it takes is for you to be there.” I suddenly remembered the strange dream I had and the unnatural phenomenon of my family’s passing.
“I’m sorry, I just can’t do this. I wasn’t that person you are describing years ago and it’s too late for me to be that person now. I don’t want it. This was truly amazing though but I have to go.
I hurried away feeling confused. His boots thudded for a moment behind me then stopped.
Thank you for reading all you wonted folks hope you are enjoying it so far! Please rate or leave your feedback and follow me on the inkitt app I will follow back.