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Fiction Friendship

**Trigger warning: suicide ideation**

I need to have a meeting with you today at 3:00, Paul had written in his email. He did not elaborate any further and his email was left unexplained. Jill glanced at the clock. It was only ten. How was she going to make it until then? Paul was her boss’s boss. He was the head honcho, the big cheese, or whatever you want to call him. It was uncharacteristic of him to email her as he didn’t interact with her often.  She was merely a cog in the wheel and he was the operator of the whole machine. Jill became nauseated and shaky. Her face flushed. The hair on her arms stood straight up. She didn’t want to jump to conclusions, but she had been down this road before. She knew it was coming. Maybe she could get an answer earlier? She hit the reply button. May I ask what this is in regards too?  Knowing she wouldn’t get an immediate reply, and yet expecting one at the same time, she waited. Jill tried to busy herself in work, but she couldn’t take her mind off the email. Paul didn’t email her back, solidifying her fear. Somehow, agonizingly, the minutes passed and turned into hours. 

At 3:00, Jill steeled herself and put on a brave face as she walked down the stairs to Paul’s office. Paul was sitting behind his desk. Jill’s direct boss, Susan, was sitting across from Paul. Jill took a seat next to Susan.   

“It’s just not working out.” Paul said. “I gave it a lot of thought before I emailed you. I don’t want to have to do this, but there is no other way.”

Bullshit. Jill thought, but she never dared to speak it. It wasn’t her personality. She was “nice” and everybody liked her as Paul had made sure to mention. Yeah. Yeah. She had been told that at her last job too. Apparently, nice people finish last.  Even though she had prepared herself as much as she could in one day, the bomb was still a shock to her. After only six months, they were giving up on her, abandoning her. Sure, she wasn’t perfect, but she was new. A little inexperienced, but she put in countless hours of unpaid time, and worked hard every day.  When she had taken the job, they told her it would be different from her past experience. Yet, here they were doing the same damn thing in a shorter amount of time.

“We get the sense that you don’t like this job.” Susan said. 

“It’s not that I don’t like it. It’s that it’s different than my last job.” Jill replied. She wasn’t being completely honest; however, because she thought she could learn to like it, but that didn’t happen. She wasn’t a quitter though, so she would have never admitted it to herself. 

The rest of the conversation, Jill doesn’t even remember. At that point she was just tearfully going through the motions. What was she supposed to do? She wished she were bold enough to tell them off, but that would only make things worse in the long run. She does remember them saying she can “resign” and they would pay her for another week, which she thanked them for. She wished she hadn’t, but she was playing peacemaker again.  She walked out of the office with her head low, defeated, and deflated. There was no courage or strength left to pick herself up this time. She went back to her office long enough to grab her coat and purse, and left the building. The rest of her stuff she’d get later; she didn’t care much about it right now anyway.     

Outside, Jill wrapped her coat around tighter. Her nose and cheeks stung adding to her pain. She wandered aimlessly, not sure of anything anymore. When she came upon the old fashioned, steel, truss bridge, the decision had been made. If the world was letting go of her, she was going to let go of the world. She walked along the side of the bridge as the cars whizzed past. Underneath, the water raged forming white peaks.  Jill stopped in the middle of the bridge. She drew in her breath and gingerly hoisted her legs up and over one at a time until they were resting on a narrow ledge. Her arms clung to the rail not wanting to let go until she was ready. 

“Miss?” A voice from behind her spoke softly so as to not startle her.

“Don’t come any closer.” Jill responded.

“Okay, okay. I won’t. What is your name?”

“Why does it matter?”

“I just like meeting new people, that’s all.” 

“Jill.”

“Hi, Jill. Why don’t you come back over here?”

“No can do.”

“What if I buy you a drink?”

“But, I don’t even know you.”

“Oh, forgive me. Where are my manners? My name is Olivia.”

“Nice to meet you, but I’m not going to be around much longer, so there’s no point in getting to know me.”

“I don’t believe that.” Olivia responded.

“Why not?”

“I think if you were going to jump you would have already done it by now.”

“That’s not true.” Jill moved one leg slightly off the edge.

“Whoa. Whoa. Okay, I believe you. You know, it sure is cold out here. Why don’t we go grab a bite to eat and warm up?” Olivia hugged herself and moved her hands up and down her arms. She slowly inched closer to Jill.   

“You’re right about the cold, but I’m not changing my mind.”

“Do you want to tell me why you’re up there?”

“I was fired from job.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

“You don’t understand. This wasn’t the first time! I’m such an idiot and nobody believes in me. I’m supposedly “smart,” but if that were true I wouldn’t have been fired twice!”

“I believe in you.”

“You don’t even know me.”

“No, but you found a job after the first time you were fired. You’ll be able to find another one. You’ll persevere.” 

“How?”

“I don’t know, but I will help you.” Olivia said as she made it to the rail. “Take my hand and we’ll get through this together.”

“You would do that for me?”

“Yes.”

“How do I know you’re not just saying that to get me back over?”

“Well, I would pinky promise you, but… You’ll just have to come back over and find out. If I don’t fulfil my promise then you can come back to this very spot and jump.” 

“Good point. Is that drink offer still open?”

Olivia chuckled. “Of course.”

Olivia grabbed Jill’s wrist and guided her over the rail. Once Jill had made it safely over, she threw her arms around Olivia who embraced her like a long lost relative. Olivia brought Jill to her car and fulfilled her promise. They had drinks that night and the next night as well. Jill shared her struggles with Olivia and Olivia listened. Olivia also shared some of her struggles with Jill. They grew fond of each other and soon became inseparable with a special bond that united them. 

January 30, 2021 21:54

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