Over the River

Click the pic for the original challenge. Written for Ermilia's Picture It and Write. Haha, my palms are sweating just from the picture!

Jessi was starting to get irritated. The two girls had been climbing up through the forest for almost an hour. Evergreens, abundant and close-knit, groped at them as they wove their way upward along the edge of the ravine. Occasionally, they drew close enough to see the river bed falling away deeper and deeper beneath them. The climb wasn’t steep but it was tiresome, and Jessi was falling behind.

Annie stopped and looked back. “Come on, I think it’s just a little ways now.”

“What is?” Jessi asked again, exasperated. Her irritation showed in her tone.

“You’ll see.” Annie waited for Jessi to catch up before pushing on again at a slower pace.

“This better be fucking worth it or you’re carrying me back,” Jessi grumbled.

Annie giggled but she kept silent.

Finally, the trees gave way to a dirt trail leading toward the edge of the chasm. Annie turned onto it and Jessi followed. The trail continued upward a while, winding in and out among the trees, and then made a turn directly to the edge of the cliff. A long, narrow suspension bridge stretched out across to the other side of the canyon.

“Oh you gotta be kidding me,” Jessi said. “You’re fucking crazy, Flower! We are not crossing that thing.”

Annie grinned, nodding her head rapidly. “I read about it in the park guide,” she said.

Jessi walked up to the edge of the ravine and looked down into the abyss. Hundreds of feet below them now, the water churned angrily against moss-less boulders, winding its way down a path carved by centuries. The bridge swayed gently above it in the breeze, a trail of narrow slats spaced ridiculously far apart so you could see right through them as you crossed. The ground under her feet was suddenly liquid, an unsteady tower of dizzying height.

“Jesus, who builds shit like this?” she said, backing away again. “What fool thinks, ‘What should we do today? Oh wait I know, let’s go find the deepest part of a canyon and build a rickety-ass bridge over it?'”

Annie’s grin was now the grin of exactly such a fool.

“Freak,” Jessi squinted at her. “Jesus shit, look you at you!”

Jessi was right. Annie’s stupid grin stretched over a face so pale she looked like a Jack-in-the-Box clown. Her vision was a blur and her hands were dripping with sweat. Nausea made her thankful she’d skipped breakfast and her whole body was trembling in nervous fear.

“That’s your dumb ass telling us to turn around,” Jessi said, knowing there was no chance of that.

“No hands,” Annie chattered through her teeth.


Annie wrapped her hands across her chest, clenching her teeth to stop the chattering. Her eyes pinched shut for a moment in grim determination, then they shot open and she whirled and raced out onto the bridge, shrieking at the top of her lungs. She felt her stomach pour through the funnels that were once her legs as the wooden slats cushioned like dry sponge under her feet. The bridge rocked back and forth under her awkward gait, and the breeze blew through her veins in a gale of excitement.

Jessi watched, shaking her head. Annie looked truly comical, running screaming with her arms still wrapped around her as if the chain-net rails of the bridge were zombie hands pawing at her as she ran. Out across the gorge, and up the other side, screaming, screaming, until she collapsed safely on the trail again, laughing hysterically. The comedy was lost on Jessi. Annie expected her to follow.

“You’re fucking crazy, Flower!” her voice echoed on the canyon walls.

Annie got up, dusted herself off, and walked back to the bridge. Her shrug didn’t look very apologetic, miniaturized by the distance. Jessi stepped closer to the edge and the emptiness sank away beneath her, sucking her equilibrium down with it. She nervously placed one foot out onto the bridge and then transferred her weight onto it.

“No hands, Jess!” Annie yelled. “Don’t look down; just run. Just run! Run! Run! RUN!!!”

Jessi just ran. No wild terrified screams, just the rush of pure adrenaline as she saw the canyon floor appear beneath her feet. Concentrating on the slats was almost impossible. The seconds that it took to cross seemed to drag on forever and she realized she was holding her breath the whole way.

Annie was laughing again when she reached the other side.

“You’re such a freak,” Jessi’s lungs exploded. “That was the scariest thing ever. Why the hell do I ever go anywhere with you?”

“Cuz you love me,” Annie grinned.

Jessi’s eyes bugged. “Yeah, it’s kind of a love/hate thing,” she said, wagging her forefinger back and forth between them. “And right now…? Oh God!”

“What?” Annie wrinkled her brow.

“I just realized we still have to go back!”

© 2011 Anne Schilde

About Anne Schilde

Image "Webster's Kiss" © 2011 Anne Schilde Thanks always for reading! ♥
This entry was posted in Annie's World, Stuff... cuz I like to write stuff! and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Over the River

  1. Tincup says:

    Holly shit…you are a great writer. At first I thought Jessi was a boy…the typical whimpification of today’s man…but that was cleared up. Wonderful creativity…I am not sure I could write in such a manner…perhaps when a certain picture moves me I could attempt…but wow…this and that story about the Fish n chips shows a lot of talent. Rock on Anne.

  2. is this from one of your dreams? me?i only will go to “the edge of the ravine” metaphorically. continue…

    • Anne Schilde says:

      You might take a peek at The Burial Plot. That was all a dream with a bunch of German in it I didn’t know how to repeat, not to mention Gaelic and Latin, none of which I speak!

  3. Anne Schilde says:

    I didn’t dream about this until last night, after I’d already written the outline… probably why I dreamed it. I dreamed the part where Jessi peeks over and sees the river.

  4. Ermilia says:

    Oh, and the ending was comically brilliant. 😀 I want to see/read Annie running across the bridge again in the midst of screams! Priceless. Haha.

    – Ermisenda

    • Anne Schilde says:

      Thank you! I shut out the world when I look at these pictures now until I have my impression. I seriously fell apart laughing when I read your paragraph. I’m like, “Haha, she wrote me! Sweaty palms and everything!” In hindsight, I probably could have used a variation of that in the middle of my story. That would have been fun!

  5. That was great! Crossing a bridge like that would make me sweaty and nervous too. I think I would be the one to run screaming wildly across and then laughing like a maniac when I made it.

  6. Jezzmindah says:

    Hahaha the whole time I was just thinking “they do realise they’ll have to go back right?”. I love things like that. I’m terrified before hand, totally full of dread but I force my feet forward for the thrill. Adrenaline makes me dizzy with uncontrollable laughter, which in turns making me one of THE most annoying people to do stuff like this with, I’m glad that fiction Jessi is much more entertaining. She’s got swagger in ways I could never hope to have lol

    • Anne Schilde says:

      I was just doing roller-coasters yesterday, and yeah I’m probably a little annoying. Not as annoying as people who scream in movie theaters though. Jessi complains about the stuff I drag her through, but she likes it.

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