This story is by Hannah Kretzing and was part of our 2017 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the Spring Writing Contest stories here.
Silently, she pulled off her backpack and unzipped the largest pouch. Slowly and stealthily, Rye pulled out a .22lr pistol and a small bottle of pills. Rye lifted the gun, testing the weight. Then she lifted the pill bottle, trying to determine which one would kill her quicker.
She muttered to herself as she handled the bottle and gun, “I would be better off dead. No one cares anyway.”
“Who’s back there?” a feminine voice rang out, startling Rye so much, she lost her grip on the pills. The bottle rolled a few feet away, then stopped. Rye tried to put the gun behind her back, but the girl already saw it.
“I don’t know who you are, but I do know one thing about you. You obviously have your reasons to want to end your life, and that’s a problem,” the girl spoke firmly, as if she had dealt with suicidal people thousands of times before. “Give me the pills. And the gun.”
The girl held out her left hand.
Rye reluctantly handed over the weapons as if they were illegal drugs. “So, I have many problems. You’re referring to me wanting to end my life. No matter what you do, it’s going to happen, now or later.”
The girl took the gun and the pills out of her hands and turned around. She threw the bottle in the trashcan, along with the gun.
“You won’t need those anymore,” the girl turned back to face Rye. “I`m Svenna.”
Svenna had long, dark black hair that passed her waist. She was short; probably only five feet tall. Her eyes were the color of emeralds, and her skin was sun tanned. In her right hand, she held a wooden walking stick, the color of her eyes. A braided string of vines and flowers twisted around the handle.
Svenna laughed. “Are you going to tell me your name?”
“My name is… Ryleyna, but my friends just call me Rye.” She brushed off her jeans. “But for your information, you may not call me Rye because you are not my friend.”
“I got a feeling that you don’t like the name Ryleyna so I’m going to call you Rye.” She pushed her bangs out of her face and smiled at Rye.
“How can you do that?” Rye stared at Svenna, as if she was a mystery that needed to be solved.
“I`m special. I can pick up on vibes like that. In a way, it makes up for my loss of another sense.” She frowned, then smiled.
“I`m going to make you believe that all this pain is worth living for.” Svenna grabbed Rye`s wrist and tugged her down the trail. Rye stopped dead in her tracks.
Rye glanced at Svenna. “Where are we going?”
“Just trust me” Without waiting for a response, Svenna took off down the path.
What Rye said next surprised both Svenna and herself. “Wait for me!”
Svenna came to a halt, turned, and waited for Rye to catch up. The smile on her face was so big; Rye didn’t know how it fit on her small face.
“You don’t believe me still, do you? But you don’t want me to leave you.” She let loose a giggle, then became serious again.
“How can you do that?”
“Maybe I’ll tell you later, but right now, I`m going to save your life.” With that, Svenna tore down the path. Rye slowly walked after her. About ten seconds later, she stopped.
“What did you stop for?” Rye asked.
Svenna pointed to her right. “What do you see?”
Rye looked where she was pointing. There was a family playing along the bank of the small creek. They all were laughing and joking around, basically having a good time.
Rye sighed, wishing her family was like that. But her family didn’t even care about her.
“Can you see it?”
She nodded. “I can.” She spun around and checked out all the other people in the park. “I see families. And they’re all enjoying themselves.”
Svenna looked at her. “What are they enjoying?”
Rye shuffled her feet, not knowing what else to say, even though she knew what Svenna was getting at. “I don’t know. You tell me.”
“Life. Wouldn’t you miss it? If I hadn’t stopped you, that bullet would be in your head, the pills in your stomach, and you six feet underground.” She raised her eyebrows, waiting for her to disagree. Rye didn’t, because Svenna was right, again, and she knew it.
“Come on. Let’s go. I`m not done yet. I`m going to show you how to respect yourself.”
Rye shot a glance at Svenna, trying to warn her about the group of guys to her left.
The boys grinned. “Looks like Sunshine found a new friend. Bat-girl and Sunshine. What a joke.”
Rye looked at them, puzzled by what they had said. Sunshine was their nickname for her, because of her light colored hair. But Bat-girl? That had to have been Svenna, but Rye didn’t know why.
Svenna kept walking. So did Rye. The boys called after them saying, “Bat-girl may need help getting out of her cave. If Sunshine was smarter, she`d help her out.”
Svenna didn’t even look dazed by what they had just said. She kept walking as if it never occurred.
Svenna shook her head but continued down the path.
The two kept a steady pace the for about 30 minutes. As Rye looked up ahead, she saw a small town, unfamiliar to her. She turned in Svenna’s direction, but she was already explaining.
“This is Hamilton, PA.”
The two strode down the sidewalk. They passed shop after shop, window after window. Svenna finally stopped in front of a store with little business.
“What do you see?” She asked Rye.
Rye squinted through the glass. Inside, there was a bunch of antiques. “Lots and lots of old… things that no one even knows what they are because no one uses them anymore.”
Svenna shook her head. “No, not that. What do you see, when you look at the glass. What is the image you see of yourself?”
Rye focused on her reflection. She saw an average girl, with hair too bright, her nose to small and her mouth in a frown. However, she saw a mirror image of an angel standing right next to her. “Well, I see a beast standing next to a flower.”
Svenna laughed. “I see a girl who can achieve anything, if she just put her heart into it. I see the girl that everyone wishes they could be. I see a girl who doesn’t know what she has, and if she doesn’t figure out soon, she’ll lose it all.”
Rye almost stopped breathing, she was that surprised. “You don’t know me.”
Svenna shrugged. “Maybe someday you’ll learn to appreciate me and all the steps I`m taking to save you before it’s too late. Come on, my tour isn’t over yet.” She hurried across the street and slid under a short wooden fence.
“What are you doing? I`m not really in the mood to have an encounter with the police.”
She narrowed her eyes. “This isn’t illegal. It’s a soccer field that just happens to be fenced in. Now get your butt over here or else I will come over and drag you by the hair.”
Rye reluctantly obeyed her and crawled under the fence, only to find herself high above the field, perched on a small hill.
“Okay, what do you see?”
“I see people kicking a ball back and forth, trying to get it into that net.”
Svenna rolled her eyes. “That’s not what I meant. And for your information, the proper terms would be ‘passing’ and ‘goal’.”
Rye shrugged. “I’m not really into soccer. I like basketball.”
“What is the main thing you need to play any sport? Actually, don’t answer that; I don’t need a smart aleck answer. I see a team working together. Teamwork. What would happen if you took a player off the field and didn’t replace them? I want you to answer seriously.”
“It wouldn’t work correctly,” Rye muttered. Svenna put both hands over her ears, indicating that she couldn’t hear her and she needed to speak louder.
“The game. It wouldn’t work correctly.”
“Exactly! Think of the team as the people who care. Imagine that you’re the payer that left the team. If you ended your life, the lives around you would fall apart. The team would, in other words, crash and burn.”
Rye scratched her head, trying to decipher what Svenna just said. “So, you`re saying…”
“I will not allow you to kill yourself while you are with me,” she stated.
Rye sighed. “I know. We’ve discussed this before. However, you won’t be able to be with me all the time.”
Svenna narrowed her eyes at Rye, then relaxed. “Come on. I have one more place to show you before I let you go.” Yet again, She took off down the sidewalk. She turned and hollered, “If you don`t hurry we won’t make it before it closes!”
Rye muttered to herself as she jogged down the walkway. At the end of the block, Svenna stopped and went into a store.
When she reached the door, she realized it was a bookstore. The bell above to door rung when she entered.
Rye walked aimlessly around the bookstore, searching for Svenna. She was sitting in a couch at the back of the room. In her hands was a book, and her fingers traced the words as she read. She looked up when she heard Rye approach.
Without missing a beat, she asked, “What do you see?”
“I see people reading, but I also see people writing,” she waved her hand in the direction of the people sitting at tables.
Svenna nodded. “Writing about what?” She stood up and walked up to one of the many tables.
“Hello. I was wondering what you guys are writing about, if it’s okay that I ask.”
The girls nodded happily. The first girl wrote about parents fighting because that’s what happened in her life. The second was about a fairy tale because she believed in the impossible. The last one was about a guy, a girl, and a breakup.
Svenna nodded, satisfied with what she heard. “Thanks so much, I appreciate it. Good luck!” She smiled triumphantly as she strolled back to her seat on the couch.
“You can write your own story too. You can make a new beginning. But if you still feel like ending your life, there’s the lake,” motions toward the door. “I bet it’s not that hard to drown. Just remember, how you go out is the way you’ll be remembered.” She set down her book on the coffee table to her left, then went up to the counter.
Rye sat down where she was previously sitting. She picked up Svenna’s book to the first page. It was blank with no writing. There were small dots raised from the pages. Svenna was blind.
There were clues everywhere: the ‘walking’ stick, the Bat-girl comment, and the ‘what do you see’ questions. And finally, the book in Braille.
“You’re blind.” Svenna nodded. “Is it hard for you?”
Svenna shook her head. “It used to be, but I`ve been blind for over 5 years. I was in a car crash when I was 8. I was so close to death…” she trailed off.
Rye stared at her. “That’s why you stopped me?”
“Death is painful and I didn’t want to let you experience it.”
“Wow,” she looked at the clock above the door. It was almost time for dinner. “There is just one thing I have to do before I go home.”
“And what’s that?”
Rye pulled her phone out and took a picture of Svenna. She pulled up her social media account and labeled it, ‘Shout out to the girl who saved my life. She helped me learn to appreciate what I have.’
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