The wind in my hair, freedom surrounding me as I plunged 300 feet down to the ravine—or was it 301 feet? The sudden impact brought me back to why I just jumped off a cliff, thought Winters.
Winters didn’t know why she decided to pay attention to Bear when he suggested she enter her 30s with a bang and go bungee jumping with him.
The morning started off beautifully, but ended in torrential rains with 80 mile per hour winds. Winters was tucked in her bed with a book and some hot chocolate while her housemate, Bear, was out racing his car on the highway.
"Come out with me, we'll have fun," said Bear before he left.
But of course Winters declined with the excuse of needing to wash her hair.
It was 3am when Bear unlocked the last door to enter into the home he shared with Winters. He loved her, he definitely did, but what irritated him about her was her avoidance of fun. Sure she was an introvert, sure she was antisocial, but did she always have to kill fun?
Bear knew that he had to do something about it. He immediately pulled out his phone as he was closing the door behind him and called his buddy Nelson to secure him a spot at the bungee place.
“Wake up, princess,” whispered Bear as he walked into her bedroom. He turned on the light, forcing Winters to cover her head with her blankets.
“What are you doing? I was sleeping!” she grumbled under the covers, a bit groggy.
“You’ll be happy to know that I booked us both a spot at the bungee place that I told you about.”
“You did what!?”
“Winnie, you’ll be 30 soon. You haven’t had a boyfriend in years since you saw that obsession movie; you don’t want to have children ever since you saw the Omen; and now you barely leave the house since COVID started. This has to stop! You’re a recluse and I won't stand by and watch you sink in loneliness,” said Bear from a place of love for his best friend.
Winters sat up on her bed and uncovered her face, noticing Bear with tears running down his face. He had brought her reality before her eyes, and it hurt.
“I don't know what to say. I didn’t know that it bothers you that much,” Winters pulled her blankets closer to her heart.
“It does when I go out and I know that you’re here alone. You even managed to get rid of all your friends. And honestly your job doesn’t help the matter.”
“Hey, my job pays my bills. I actually love working from home.”
“What ever happened to that adventurous girl I met in kindergarten? Well, your adventurous streak lasted until…,” Bear stopped when he realized that he was about to enter into deep waters, but then decided to just tear away the bandage and the tiptoeing around the issue and just lay it before Winters.
He continued with, “Until you found your mother in bed with Charles. Things happen, I understand that them getting married didn’t help the situation nor them having children, but you need to pick yourself up by the bootstraps and move on.”
“I just…” searching for words, her mind trailed back to what she had done to her mother’s new children. She just hoped that the poison wasn’t painful before they died. No one ever suspected her; it was a secret that she would carry to her grave. Shortly after, her mother died by suicide, taking Charles with her.
Charles had been Winters’ husband for one year until the day when Winters was sent home from work after throwing up. She heard laughter once she entered the apartment she shared with Charles; it was their starter place after getting married. Winters placed her things on the sofa and proceeded to walk towards the noise coming from her bedroom. She slowly opened the door to the amazement of seeing her mother in bed with her husband. Agatha quickly covered her face from her only daughter while Charles jumped out of bed naked and ran over to Winters. She stumbled backwards as Charles pleaded her to understand.
Winter didn’t know if it was the stomach pains that gave her the stamina to react or if it was her last attempt at a normal life.
“Get out!” she screamed at Charles, “How could you?!”
“Baby, I’m sorry. It wasn’t me, it was your mother…” Charles pleaded with failed attempts to stop the rage that overpowered his wife.
Her mind was racing, her heart about to leap out her chest. She ran over to the bedroom door, grabbed her mother by the hair, and pulled her out the room. Agnes managed to throw a punch on Winters’ stomach which made her throw up all over naked Agnes, but she didn’t let go. Winters felt an overwhelming strength that allowed her to somehow throw both her mother and Charles out of the apartment. She threw their clothes out the window to oncoming traffic. Later on, she didn’t understand how she managed to accomplish all that alone.
Now so many years later she remembered the first phone call she made.
“Hello… Bear… I’m bleeding,” and she passed out.
She remembered waking up at the hospital with Bear holding her hand. A nurse was checking her vitals when she awoke. Winters tried to sit up, but felt pain on her stomach and her groin.
“Sit up slowly. Here, I’ll lift up the bed to make it easier,” said the nurse.
Winters looked at Bear, she noticed that he had been crying.
“Are you ok?” she asked as she positioned herself.
“Why didn’t you tell me that you were pregnant?” asked Bear.
The nurse continued to help Winters as the machines started to beep.
“I was what?” said Winters, barely pronouncing the words.
Bear realized that she didn’t even know herself. He covered his mouth with his hands and said, “I’m sorry.”
“I was what? I was what!” she screamed.
“Please calm down ma’am,” said the nurse gently. Immediately another nurse ran in and administered something that made Winters calm down, but her crying didn’t stop.
Bear climbed into the hospital bed with Winters and held her until she fell asleep on his chest.
The days melted into nights as Winters plunged deeper into despair. Slowly Bear noticed her picking up small ticks. One day she was fine with walks in the park, then the next she was commenting on how much crime had risen in public spaces. Then slowly, after watching countless movies on crime and horror, she changed into someone unrecognizable. She stopped going to work and ultimately got fired, then was evicted from her apartment. Bear helped her move her things into his own apartment. Eventually, she had enough energy to find a job as a computer analyst and started working from home. That’s when COVID hit and she cut off all her friends and family, but through it all Bear was a pillar of comfort. During the pandemic they decided to move into a house, a much bigger place for them both. It didn’t help Winters; she just made her room her cocoon and settled. That was precisely when Winters found out through social media that Agnes had given birth to triplets. They were five years old to Winters’ amazement by the time the news reached her.
Bear noticed that Winters went out only a few times by herself during the pandemic. Solemnly walking the streets. He didn’t know if her mother’s suicide hurt Winters or if it was still the lingering betrayal.
“Tomorrow, we're going bungee jumping whether you like it or not,” Bear stood and walked out the room, closing the door behind him.
Winters sank into her bed dreading the coming day.
Bear had said tomorrow, but technically it should have been the following day since he had awoken Winters at 3am. What he actually meant was when the sun rose, they were going.
Winters dressed in yoga pants and a tee that read “I survived COVID unscathed”. When they arrived at the bungee jumping site, people were already lining up for the thrill of a lifetime. Winters was number 13th in line.
“Switch with me. I don’t want to be the 13th. It’s bad luck,” she commented.
“So you wanna push the bad luck to me? Look, take today as the day to move away from all your superstitions and your ticks, okay?” Bear looked over her head at the slowly moving crowd.
He was looking for his friend, Nelson, to see if he could bump them up in line, but his friend was busy securing someone onto a rope.
Slowly the line progressed until it was their turn. Bear didn’t want his friend’s hands all over Winters so he asked Nelson to harness him first, leaving the new-hire, Cyndie, to harness Winters.
“Please, can I go first?” asked Winters, not wanting to be number 13.
“Fine, you can go first,” said Bear, clearly annoyed at Winters’ nagging.
Winters walked up onto the ledge, she was told to spread her arms out so she did. Then without warning, Cyndie pushed her. The impact came without warning—she hit the rocks below with her face three times before it was all over.
The people that had gone before Winters were down below being unharnessed when they saw Winters hit the rocks. The momentum didn’t give Winters time to shield her face; it was so sudden. Her face hit the rocks so hard that her eyes were ejected from their sockets. She hung unconscious until several employees along with bystanders pulled her down.
Every bone on Winters’ face was shattered. Doctors were surprised that given the extent of the injuries, she was able to survive the fall.
Winters’ life was now filled with doctors appointments and court appearances. The ninth court appearance and the sixth televised interview, all because I decided to step out of my comfort zone, thought Winters.