Precariously Bold

Submitted into Contest #94 in response to: Start your story with someone accepting a dare.... view prompt

13 comments

Adventure American Contemporary

"I said I would didn't I?" Kelsey puckered her lips, hands on her hips in defiance mode. Blake stood in front of her, pointing to the bridge behind them, sitting there, as if it were waiting for them, calling out in the hot stillness of the afternoon sun.

"I doubt you have the guts to actually do it." Her friend pressured, his voice getting serious, too much maybe, she thought. Sweat made her hair stick to her small forehead. She was thirsty.

"Give me that water bottle. Then we will walk over and I will do it." She motioned to his backpack. Around them the cicada's buzzed, gosh it was so hot today, the Tennessee summer having just started, school out finally.

****

How precariously does someone have to go on a dare anyway? Kelsey had to prove herself, or she would be bullied. Her father, worked 10 hours a day at the gas station, managing the shop, her mother cleaned half the day and spent the remainder doing her own housework and cooking. It was just the three of them, they moved here from Iowa - after the recession, jobs were scarce.

"If something happens to me you better call 911 or else, and not leave me hurt and alone." Kelsey's voice wavered through the heated air, fear prickling down her spine like tiny little knats finding a new home there on her skin. She had to go through with it. He was going to film it on his cell phone. The one with the crack his brother gave him after he'd picked it out of the trash.

"Relax, of course I won't leave you lying hurt anywhere, and besides, the only place you land is the river, unless you get eaten by a 'gator." Blake said, matter of fact. Her face went white. Maybe this was not such a good idea, she should just go home, facing the consequences no matter what at school.

"Look, I was kidding, the gators ate breakfast already, they hang out mostly down by the swamps further up the riverbeds, they prefer wild game anyway, your too skinny." Blake comforted, and they walked to the bridge. Kids. Why did being one have to be so dangerous? She thought glumily, the old bridge railing was there, inviting her to walk its edge of two by four's, aged with splinter and peeling paint. Nobody took care of it anymore. Nobody cared about this bridge. The bridge that took a young boy's life a few years back, legend had it he was gay. And then the car accident, a group of teen's drowned after their car lost control and went crashing through the railings into the water below. So any tales and legends. Maybe, she might be the next victim, the bridge might take her too, like the others.

***

Here she was, our little girl, one day alive and happy, her whole life to look forward to. Our Kelsey, who took a dare and then fell, into the river below, hitting her head and unable to swim to the surface thus, she drowned. God took our angel here, and she will be so missed by many." The father cried into his handkerchief, and her mother remained silent, staring into the coffin that lay beneath them. Rarely did it rain in Tennesee, but that day, on her funeral, a rain began to pelt down, drumming onto the coffin's top that remained closed. Darkness enveloped the small group of townfolk for her burial.

***

OK, stop it, just do it like gym class on the balance beam, she told herself, as she grabbed hold of the railing and pulled herself up onto the beginning, the empty bridge facing her now, in all its glorified

oldness of decaying wood. "Okaaay, one foot forward, arms out, relax, focus" She whispered to the dead wood plank beneath her shoes. Sweat continued to drip more now as she placed, one foot, then another, then, it was over, she made it to the other side, ever so slowly. She collapsed after, angry and exhausted, hot, so warm today. The river's edge invited her to it, so she bent over and slopped the water all over her face and neck, its cold comforting now. She wanted to swim. Just jump in and swim, erase what just happened, let go of her anxiety from the ordeal of her dare acceptance. Never again would she accpet one, not like that anyway. It was then she saw it, dark, ugly, menacing and lurking beneath the water, a jaw opening to catch bugs. An alligator. It was small, Blake said there were none here, they were up in the swampy part of the river. Kelsey jumped back up on the grass and crawled backward as fast as she could, then ran home, leaving Blake open mouthed, gaping in surprise and he did the same thing when he saw what made her run. That was the last time they ever went back to the bridge alone to hang out, until many years later. And never did they go near the edge, where alligators lurked, the precariousness of her dare never having been forgotten.

***

"What did you do today?" Her mother asked her, as she placed biscuits and black eyed peas on the table. "Your father will be here any minute, supper is ready, I made chicken." She finished, as she placed cutlery onto the table.

"N..nothing much, hung out with Blake, we went down to the bridge." She shrugged, pouring iced sweet tea into the tall glasses that twinkled in the sun, she loved those glasses, the sun dancing on them made her happy.

"You stay away from that bridge, I hear too many bad things about it, you hear?" Her mother stared hard at her, sternness in her worried face.

"Don't worry mom, we didnt go on the bridge. It was so hot anyway we went back to his house and sat on the porch. His mom gave us coke's." She reported. Well - that was part true, before they left after lunch anyway.

"The Tallahassee fables, still, I dont want you going near it, its not safe." And her mother smiled as her father walked in.

"I am starved, hey - I heard a couple of kids were up on the bridge today, one of them was walking the railing, how stupid is that?" He reported, eyeing his daughter and wife as the table was ready with food. Warm smells of cooking swathed through the house.

"Here, I made your favorite, black eyed pea's." His wife handed him the bowl, he grabbed a biscuit and some butter.

"You know, I heard a gay kid jumped there and drowned himself awhile back, one of the guy's at the mill told me so." Her father continued, tanned strong hands pulling the soft delicate biscuit apart and spread with soft butter.

"It sounds horrible and sad, must have been awful for his family." her mother remained quiet, staring hard at Kelsey, who now felt those tingles once again up her spine.

"I hope you don't go near that bridge. It ain't safe." Her father continued, and then dinner was over.

May 14, 2021 18:58

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13 comments

Charlie Murphy
01:07 May 27, 2021

Great job! Except the end felt abrupt.

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Marianna Mills
01:11 May 27, 2021

Maybe a little, thanks for your feedback. glad you liked it.

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Charlie Murphy
01:29 May 27, 2021

=] You can read my new story.

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Marianna Mills
17:39 May 29, 2021

I just submitted a new romance today. It's cute I think, I am working on improving generally speaking.

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Ayla Madewell
15:45 May 25, 2021

just a small note (I'm from Tennessee) It rains quite often actually and there are no gators here.

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Marianna Mills
00:54 May 26, 2021

actually they do, they have recently found their way into your state over the last decade or so I did my research on that. fiction is all about being creative. cheers

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Marianna Mills
01:00 May 26, 2021

As far as the weather goes, it is very hot and humid in Talahassee, Tenn. anything else u would like to correct me on? cheers again lol

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Yuk Yuk
10:40 May 22, 2021

Did she die, cause there was a burial. Or she went back again ?

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Marianna Mills
19:45 May 24, 2021

She didn't die, but another kid did that summer. I shld have been more careful working on that timeframe and all that, sorry for the confusion. Just having fun experimenting right now. cheers and thanks for reading.

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Yuk Yuk
04:54 May 26, 2021

I read this comment before but somehow I read something else. I'm rereading it now and ohhh another Kesley? I don't know if it's the time frame, maybe because they have the same name. I continued reading thinking she was going to die. But then she didn't, so that's I was confused. Maybe if they are both going to be Kesley you could show something to differentiate them at the burial. Nice take on the prompt. Good job.

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Marianna Mills
09:28 May 26, 2021

I know I did change my answer, I have a lot on my mind lately, so when I answered she did die at first I was wrong and had to actually re read the story. The italics change the setting from past to present. what i meant about the time frame was I could have added some inner voices or dates in between the scenes. always room for improvement, but i write for fun also not expecting to win. cheers again

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Hugo Millaire
21:27 May 18, 2021

Whoaaa I loved the transitions between the two perspectives at the beginning! It was a super interesting read!

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Marianna Mills
01:04 May 26, 2021

thanks, I think I could have written it a bit slower and more thoroughly, I find some fault as it stands, oh well, I am learning. cheers

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