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Climb over the Rainbow, where the seaweed is always greener

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Pink fingers clutched cold iron in one hand, and soft, warm flesh with the other. Two minds were thinking different things, one staring at the road behind them, and thinking of all the articles she had read about: people arriving at just this precise moment in time. The unyielding, convincing, kind strangers that had just been driving home from work. The other was stared down at the cold rushing water below, remembering that the tide came in at six in the winter months.

They looked at each other and thought of all the times they had caught each others gaze before. Katherine searching for the strength she felt draining from her in her friend, and found exactly what she needed in Jessie’s reassuring smile.

Katherine looked down at the swelling water, and felt the wind at her back, it’s caress as soft as her mother’s when she woke up from a bad dream, or when she was hurting and needed someone soft to be around to combat the pain from the opposite kind of person. Her mother’s rough fingers, calloused from the cleaning chemicals she used at her job, attempting to erase the marks on her skin that bloomed up on her legs and hips when she was left alone with her father.

“Do you think it will hurt?” Katherine broke the icy silence that had cultivated in the past ten minutes after they had climbed over the safety rail on the old bridge.

They had talked about this before for hours when they started planning and about how it would only hurt if it was unsuccessful, if they were unsuccessful.

The bridge behind them was empty, street lights on either side cast shadows across their faces. The light was swallowing up Jessie's will to stay here, she looked reassured, for Katherine, but inside her stomach felt like jelly or the melting ice cream Katherine use to take from the corner store.

Jessie shook her head her blonde bangs twisting in the cool wind, and then unclasped their fingers to push her black glasses up the bridge of her nose, a reflex, and then took them off with shaking fingers. She folded them and set them on the green railing at her back. The world looked fuzzy, and when she glanced at Katherine her face looked stark against the blanket of the night behind her, the course, and curly black hair disappearing into the fuzz that was the woods surrounding them. It was like putting on rose-coloured glasses when someone needed a prettier day, but tonight this worked just as well, if not better. Katherine looked calmer now, reassured that she wouldn't be alone. They would embark on this next journey together.

She reached out for Katherine again and remembered the game they use to play as children: hide-and-go-seek in the dark. They would always take off their glasses to take it up just one more notch, just a bit more difficulty. The game didn’t seem all that hard, now. With that a string of other memories collapsed into her mind, she thought about all the other deceptively happy games they played to pass the time to get here. All the games they played had to be quiet ones when they were at her house. Unlike Katherine, Jessie’s father worked nights, so the games they played had to be silent ones, or else they would wake him up. The last thing Jessie ever wanted was a confrontation with her father.

The fingers she left out in the air were captured by Katherine and she relaxed backward. She wondered how long they would have to stand here on the edge before they could finally step forward. Their fingers entwined felt strange. They didn't usually touch. It wasn't that they weren't content with each others company, but something about physical touch could only bring painful memories for Jessie.

“Maybe we just need a little encouragement?” Katherine’s raspy voice once again disrupted the sounds that had been playing around them, “Maybe we just need to remember why.”

Jessie shuddered at the word, the thought, this wasn’t about remembering, the exact opposite in fact.

Katherine seemed so caught up now, in the memories they were going to scrub away like a giant pink eraser, all that would be left are pieces of black rubber, unrecognizable from their original state. They would be swept away, and forgotten because the only people who knew weren’t going to tell.

“How about we don’t? If I want anything running through my mind it would be something...anything...remotely happy.” Jessie finally spoke, her voice tight from the cold.

Katherine glanced at her, Jessie could barely see the look, but she knew from experience it was of understanding. Her pale green eyes would be shining from tears, and threatening to fall in the anger that she could do nothing to make her friend feel better except to be there, and hold her hand.

Even the metal at her back brushed painfully against the bruises. She didn’t need to remember; because those thoughts never left her they were unforgettable in their tremendous weight on her chest. She let go of the railing for a moment, hand holding her friends grasping a little tighter and pulled out her keychain. She fingered the small, faded pendent and then reached around, putting it in her friend’s pocket.

Katherine barked out a laugh that seemed so harsh it gripped Jessie's lungs tight and made the next breath harder to pull into her chest. It covered up the rushing of the wind, and the shifting of the trees.

“I honestly never thought you would give it back,” Katherine stopped for a pause and then said quietly, “After all this time?”

Jessie trembled, but she knew the answer. She could taste salt on her lips and managed a weak whisper, “Always.”

She could hear sniffling and pretended her friend must just be cold.

She thought about the time they borrowed Katherine’s mom’s beaten up Honda and drove it to the nearest tattoo artist two hours away who wouldn’t ID them. Matching Harry Potter tattoos had always been an agreement, even now the silver tattoos shone in the dark just above their clutching hands.

They didn’t remember when they met, but they knew the story about how both their mothers wanted natural water births, a trend in the 70s, and how they had both visited the same doula in town. They had been born two months apart. Jessie came first, and then Katherine. They went to the same babysitter, the same daycare, school, clubs and hobbies. They shared everything, even their first boyfriend.

Markus Brown, a nerdy little fantasy-lover who could quote star wars and wooed them with promises of Dungeons and Dragons. It was easy, Jessie got him first, and then two months later Katherine got him. They had agreed upon it before hand.

Katherine didn’t speak another word, and Jessie couldn’t tell if she was relieved or not. The last word seemed to echo, and swell in both their ears in its obnoxious irony.

Jessie closed her eyes, a head ache starting to rise from the strain, and then she realized she hadn’t grabbed back onto the railing. Her fingers hung limply at her side. Casual. Like it wasn’t just Katharine and the press of the road at the arch of her feet holding her here. She realized she was now a quarter of the way there. Just an inch forward and she would be falling.

She almost asked Katherine if she remembers how Mr. Harris had taught them all about gravitational pull, but she knew Katherine did instinctually so she just kept silent.

She could feel the pull now more than ever before, invisible hands clutched her one hand, and in the other was Katherine. She realized they would probably have to let go… eventually at least.

Katherine let go of her side of the railing. Both of them swayed with the wind and the loss of assurance they barely had to begin with. Even now, she could see Katherine glance down the road and she considered telling her to climb back. That everything would get better like people always promised. That it was just a high school thing. That she would never have to see her family again if she didn’t want to. They could climb over the rainbow, where the seaweed was always greener or whatever the saying was, and that everything would be better.

She considered climbing back with her. Her reassurances that would feel sick and false in her mind might become real; sound real if she just said them out loud. Like that book, The Secret, and the sending out of positive energies brings back positive energies, but false hopes and false idols are for the weak.

Jessie thought about her mom, and when her mom wasn’t there anymore. Disappearing with a man she met online to make a family that lived up to her expectations. Not the family that stood here and not the family that was sleeping on the recliner in front of the T.V. in that dilapidating house with a cold one on his chest warming to room temperature.

She thought about how her mom always put animal crackers in her soup because her favourite singer was Shirley Temple or when she ripped up the bathroom towels so she could put Jessie’s hair in ringlets.

She thought about how angry her father got when he saw the receipts from her mother’s shopping trip, or when he saw the shredded towel on the living room floor. The next day Jessie fought furtively with her hair to brush out the half that was curled to match the straight hair on the other side.

Katherine tugged on her hand, and they both leaned forward, further away from the safety of the bridge, and away from the thoughts Jessie was hurrying to.

“Did you hear me?” Katherine asked.

Jessie shook her head and muttered out a negative.

“I said, that we don’t have to. That I can take you home. That...that we don’t have to.” Katherine stuttered out.

Jessie nodded her head, and looked at her friend, the fuzz seemed to die away for a moment and she could see just how scared she was. She tried to let go of her friend’s hand, maybe they didn’t need to share everything.

But Katherine wouldn’t let go. Like she knew what would happen if she allowed her friend to unwrap their fingers.

Katherine took a deep breath and looked back down at the water, and suddenly the decision had been made. Katherine wouldn’t step back over the other side. She could feel the same pull Jessie had felt earlier, and she hovered her foot off the edge.

Jessie thought about all the times she did dumb things, her mother's question, and her answer, ‘Yes, Mom, if Katherine jumped…’