Hello!
A damsel brought an interesting story as an offering and today, we feast.
Warm welcome to Oluchi as she takes the helm today!
Enjoy.

SAVING RUTH

I knew that something bad had happened when Melissa barged into our chemistry class agitated, trying to control her stammering as incomprehensible words came pouring out of her mouth. She was trembling and tried to hold herself up, gripping with her left hand a rusty bar handle connected to the wall by the door. Mrs Aide looked up at me, and then at Melissa when her words started to make sense.

“It’s Ru.. Ruth. Sh.. She’s g-g-going to jump! She’s at the roof top and sh-sh-she’s going t-t-to jump!”

It felt like I would have a bowel movement the moment I stood up from the wooden chair I had been plastered to for the past hour, but I fought the urge to run into the restroom for fear of letting another delicate moment slip by. I could feel everybody’s reaction in the room, how their roaming eyes finally came to find solace on me. It’s obvious what I must do, I thought as I made my way quickly through the jam-packed chairs, avoiding the barrage of scouring curious eyes that followed my movement. I fought surprisingly for air which seemed to be lacking in the classroom all of a sudden. It was yet another day, another hour to allow my thoughts be completely overshadowed by Ruth’s being.

I did not bother to catch a glimpse of anyone staring or solicit their help because I knew they would only avoid my gaze like shrinking cowards. Our classmates had become accustomed a caitiff lifestyle when it came to dealing with Ruth, who could now be identified as the girl with “many problems”. They were so completely void of the mental bravery it took to read her foreign character so because it was easier, they avoided her like a deadly taboo instead. Had Ruth not been the type to sit at the back of the class and pay attention to no one but the lines in the books she studied so profoundly, maybe she would have more friends. Had she not been so obsessed with her solitude and launched a safe spot at the very end of the cafeteria to eat quietly like a little mouse, had she been like every other normal girl in class – then maybe they would have embraced her. She was still the smartest girl I had ever met and had a mind so easy to get lost in because it went on forever. After years of having to deal with listening to contents of her suicidal thoughts, I could not believe It was finally coming to reality. (Actually I could, I would be crazy to act surprised). It almost felt like I had waited and primed myself for this day.

The whole class was right behind me as I ran down the hall way and it was certainly not because they cared. Our blue checkered dresses flapped quietly behind us as we made our way down the corridor, shoes click-clacking noisily against the hard concrete floors. I went up the stairs as fast as I could, hoping over extra steps to increase my pace and simultaneously trying to null out the queasy whispering voices behind me. I would have turned around to ask that everyone shut their mouth up had it not been for the way my heart banged with worry and my head spun with confusion. Why would Ruth do this to me today?

I got to the top of the roof and pushed the door open. A generous puff of dust rose and clouded my vision along with that of the twenty other girls behind me. I heard a couple of people cough lightly as I walked right through the wall of dust that stood as a barrier between me and the girl whose body outline I could now make out. Her hair that was neatly cornrowed to the back in five sections glistened against the sunlight and her glasses sat uncomfortable on her nose like an unbalanced see-saw  Her slender neck grew an inch longer when she exhaled nervously and turned around carefully on the constricting cement ridge that created a barrier between the roof and the open 10 feet below us. I studied her skinny body, the way her arms folded across her chest as if she were cold or in want of a hug. Her eyes caught my attention and I remembered the disconcerting nickname she had gotten from our classmates, “the frog princess”. They were an oval bulging of irrevocable beauty that could see past the physical, and so they sat gracefully beneath her dark scruffy eyebrows. I couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t come to recognize how unnaturally beautiful her perceived ugly was.

We were both 15 and in high school. She was everything that I wasn’t and that was okay. I had been willing to accept her that way so I wondered for a minute why she would resort to this. Was I not good enough?

I walked up to her and in a bold step of faith raised my arm up, my hand extended as I beckoned for hers with pleading eyes. There was no rue in hers like there usually would be when she talked about self-destruction and made me upset. This time, it was dark and completely flushed. And I could not read it.

“Come down. Please. We can work this out. Whatever it is, we can talk about it. I am here for you.”

“No.” she shook her head slowly and then unfolded her arm, letting them fall to her side before lifting her right arm to show me her wrist. On it were little horizontal scrapes heavy with concealed stories from her past, days when she found comfort in hurting and healing under the cuts of her razor blade. There was a new bruise and I could tell it was barely a day old. The effect of seeing it again made my body feel like it was being pulled down to the earth by gravity.

“Please..” my voice trailed off all of a sudden and I was short of words. It was unusual and very unlikely that something like this would happen to me but I had truly not had anything else to say. Somehow I had managed to use up all the little tricks (I shouldn’t call them tricks) in my books and I was left with nothing. My mind had become a hollow land for little unwanted demons to dance in and I felt like they were mocking me. I felt defeated but I knew that I had to save Ruth again, from herself and from the rest of the world. She would one day prove to them that she was more than just a displaced eldritch; she was smart and funny and could make beautiful rainbows out of skittles.

And so I did what most people would not have expected me to do. I heard Mrs Aide’s midget outcry when I made to climb onto the ridge and stand with Ruth. It was so narrow that I wondered how I would manage to get on there and still maintain a calm conduct. Ruth looked panic-stricken as she watched me mount steadily, my whole body a spiral of trembles. She told me to stop, urged me to go back down. I told her no. I was assertive or at least I tried to sound like it.

“What’s it going to be Ruth? If you’re sure this is what you want, I am one hundred percent on your side. But you gotta be sure. And I’ll do this with you. Like I always promised. I’ll always be here for you.”

“Why are you doing this?” her eyes welled up. “Don’t do this.”

“I would do this, and a whole lot more. I would do anything for you.”

I held on to her for support and hoped the steady physical bond we had now created would grant me some sort of mental stability as well. I was now swimming in a well of trepidation and imagined my classmates to be little starved alligators waiting to devour me. Devour us. Give up now Ruth, i thought to myself. You have to save us now.

I was waiting for her to give in. The whole class was in a bubble of chaos now. I saw a girl, Sarah, fall lazily unto the ground and remain there motionless. It took me a minute to realize she had just fainted. Timid Lara went to the corner of the worn out wall that led back into the school and sat on the floor to cry. There seemed to be a lot of disarray and sensed anxiety from this group that once treated my friend like an unwanted pariah. I wanted to blame them for this and for everything. Mrs Aide was now shouting on the phone, supposedly to a man that identified himself as the head of security. I couldn’t make out her words, I couldn’t make out anyone’s thoughts. I didn’t want to care about anyone of them at that point. I just wanted my friend down and safe.

“I’m tired. I’m tired of it all. I don’t want to live in this world anymore. Please”

The way she begged me to let her do as she pleased, to let her die at the hands of these monsters made me angry. I wanted her to know I was worth staying back for, no matter how selfish that sounded, I wanted her to love me enough to want to be alive for me.

“Then we go together. You and I. We go now. We jump now and all this is over. But you can’t go without me. Do as you please but take me with you.”

Good. I saw her shaking her head and I knew that this would all be over soon. A gentle breeze blew across our faces, and then a little stronger but I clung tight to her and tried not to look down. I could now hear the sound of obnoxious distracting voices from the bottom. I could make out a woman’s deep-chested screaming like a mother hen who just lost her babies. There was a lot of racket around us now from different angles – from every corner that surrounded us. The security guards had arrived, three lousy looking scrawny men charred from the burning rays of our hot sun and sweating like labouring African slaves. They sounded so barbaric that I could not make out a word of what they were saying. My eyes were fixed on Ruth.

“Let’s come down.” she said.

I had agreed. I mean, I remember nodding my head in agreement as a pool of tears finally let loose across my cheeks. I remember squeezing her hands tightly like I would on a sweet juicy orange, trying to relish as much of it as possible. I remember looking right into her eyes, appreciating the love that she had shown me and in return loving my sister more. I remember reaching across to put my hands around her neck — but you see, I shouldn’t have done that. I got lost in the surreality of my our accomplishment that I forgot about the one little detail that should have had me at my toes. Had I not so desperately tried to tune it all out, I wouldn’t have completely disregarded how narrow that ridge had been – how unbelievably hairlike the line between life and death was.

I did lose my balance but I made sure Ruth stayed standing, living. I was fast enough to give her an unfaltering push onto safe grounds when I realized what was happening. As luck would have it, the event seemed to take place in slow motion which gave me enough time to think and realize that every thing happening and yet to happen was as a result of chance. I hadn’t been sure I would fall over the roof to the ground and have my body shattered like a fumbled bowl of overripe tomatoes but I had promised as I shoved Ruth that I would make it in time to save myself before the dilatory period was over. I knew it might or might not happen.

I let myself believe it didn’t matter as I staggered in utter apprehension to regain my balance. I let myself believe that the goal had always been to save Ruth, and it had been accomplished. The last thing I heard was her screeching bawl and my thin outcry. What must have followed when I drifted into complete oblivion were the cries of the hundreds of people that met my body as it landed on the rocky granite with a loud earth-shaking thud.

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And there you have it!
Please the writer has requested for feedbacks on the story so do endeavour to leave comments letting her know what you liked (and didn’t like maybe?).
Hope you all have a great weekend!
Jana!

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