The Struggle

A short story about a girl who is desperately in love with her best friend.

I sat upon the cold, wet grass as the rain trickled slowly down my face. He brushed a strand of sopping wet hair out of my eyes and tucked it behind my ear. I blushed and he smiled warmly back at me.

“I wish every day would rain,” I said, glancing upwards at the sky and getting rain splattered in my eyes.

“Me too...” he replied, gazing out at the picturesque scene of the river, stretching far below us in the valley which ran between the cliff we sat upon in front of my house and the other, where his house sat and the little twins played cards on the throw rug in front of the electric heater.

We sat there in each other’s arms... until I woke up.

I breathed out slowly, my heart pounding and my head throbbing with a fresh headache. I heard a faint yelling through my door; it was my mother calling me to breakfast. I stood slowly and dressed in a simple t-shirt and jeans, brushing my tangled hair with my fingers as I trudged down to the kitchen. I took my plate of bacon and eggs outside to my favourite spot on the two-seater chair swing where I could see the perfect view of his house and breathed in the clean morning air, taking note of the dark clouds in the sky.

I was reflecting on my dream and playing with my food as he crossed the long, narrow bridge to my house, and I didn’t notice when he said, “Hey Alana,” or when he sat down next to me and started to rock the swing back and forth. He took a piece of bacon off my plate and popped it into his mouth, the crunch finally bringing me out of my reflection, “Oh! Hey Chad. How’re the twins?”

“Yeah, they’re fine. How are you?” he asked, looking slightly concerned, “What were you thinking about?”

“I’m fine. I was just remembering this crazy dream I had last night about...” I hesitated, “chasing a one legged horse.”

He laughed, and it echoed around the cliffs and the valley, “Trust you to have psycho dreams,” he said and went back to stealing my bacon.

Chad and I went way back. We’d been best friends since pre-prep school, when I asked him if I could take a bite of his sandwich and he let me. The first time I really realised that Chad was a really hot, sweet guy, was about three months ago, when my dreams started. Dreams of how we got married, of how we had kids, of just sitting in the rain... I sighed.

“Hey Alana, do you want to come over later this afternoon?” he asked, “The twins really want to see you.”

“Sure,” I replied standing from the swing as I recalled a dream of us making out at that exact spot, “I’ll be there around three, okay?”

“See you then!” he said, also rising and crossing the rickety bridge in a flash.

I saw Chad’s mother through the window when I first approached the house for my play date with the twins. I heard their tiny squeals before I saw them open the door and rush into my open arms. Chad was standing just inside the door, smiling at the scene. The afternoon went as normal. Chad and I played dolls with them, and just when I was about to go, they asked me to play one more game.

“Fine,” I replied, “only one more game and that’s it!”

They cheered and then went to the dress-up box. They took out a beard and a tiara, “We want you to play mums and dads with us.” they said, “Chad can be the dad, Alana can be the mum, and we can be the babies!”

“Oh!” I said as they handed me the tiara, “Why... why do you want to play this?” I stammered.

“I think they’re just getting bored of the old games.” Chad said. I found him completely oblivious to my fluttering heart and flushed face. It was at these times that I could barely control my feelings – or my mouth –  seeing him playing with his siblings and actually being ‘married’ to him; it would be stupid to act on my feelings without really knowing if he liked me back and this was sending me a ‘just friends’ message loud and clear.

We played mums and dads for the rest of the afternoon and when evening approached, Chad, like a real gentleman, offered to take me home. As soon as we had unlocked the door, the wind threw it open and a whistling sound echoed through the house.

“You be careful out there!” Chad’s father called to us.

We left the house, both of us tugging at the door and slamming it shut before we embarked on the short journey to my house. By this time, the sun had set and it was in that eerie twilight state where everything was in unrest. I think by the time we were halfway across the bridge, we realised something was off; it was too late to turn back and I clung desperately to the rope as the rocky bridge swung side to side, making me feel queasy. I turned and saw Chad yelling something to me, but the wind whipped it up in its nasty clutches and whisked it away from me before I could hear what he had to say. Tears sprung, involuntarily, in my eyes and flew away in the wind. Chad was climbing towards me as fast as he possibly could, but it wasn’t fast enough. I saw it all happen; the rope frayed all the way up to where he was holding and the bridge fell apart, almost in slow motion with the wind blowing it upwards as well as gravity pulling it downwards. Planks of wood fell and I saw the splash when it hit the water, but I never heard it. Chad had reached me now and he was around me, protecting me from the wind and shuffling me further along, faster than I could’ve gone myself. It was cold and my teeth were chattering, my legs were stiff and my fingers grasped the rope painfully. The last strand of rope that was holding the bridge up snapped. It’s amazing that I could still hear the little ‘ping’ that the rope made when it snapped. We clutched the rope, for dear life, not wanting to let go.

What felt like an eternity later, the wind died down and we were able to climb slowly upwards, using the planks of wood and the rocky cliff-wall as a ladder. There was one moment, just before we reached the top and the awaiting families, when Chad lost his footing. He thrust out his hand and smashed his finger on a rock before I caught him. His hand was rough and calloused from the climbing and a finger was broken from where e hit the wall; he was very near giving up.

“Let me go Alana!” he called up to me in desperation, “Save yourself. I’m just your stupid next-door-neighbour.”

“No!” I screamed back at him, and it echoed around us, confirming how determined I was on bringing him back up, “I won’t leave you. Do you trust me?”

He hesitated, then, “Yes,” he said with sudden clarity showing in his blue eyes, “I trust you.”

I hauled him upwards and placed his arms around my waist, tying him there securely with a strand of rope that had caught in my hair-pin. I climbed, at a much slower pace than before, to the top of the cliff. In the final stretch, I had heard a snap, but my frozen brain hadn’t been able to register what it was. My father, Chad’s father and one of the paramedics who had been airlifted to our cliff, came to help me over the lip of the cliff. I had broken a finger; the pain from it shot through me and I screamed.

The paramedics examined our conditions and said they’d have to go talk to our families for a while, so Chad and I were left outside alone.

Someone had untied Chad and he crawled around to where I was lying, clutching my finger, “I never noticed how pretty you looked in the moonlight.” he whispered to me.

“I did.” I whispered back and he kissed me gently on the forehead.

“Thank you for saving my life,” he said as he placed my head on his lap, combing through my unruly hair with his good hand.

“It was a piece of cake.” I replied and we laughed a croaky laugh.

Just then, the grey cloud I saw this morning broke.

I sat upon the cold, wet grass as the rain trickled slowly down my face. He brushed a strand of sopping wet hair out of my eyes and tucked it behind my ear. I blushed and he smiled warmly back at me...

The End

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