I dare you to forget the marks you left across my neck
From those nights when we were both found at our best.
She didn't mean to even go there, to think about it, but the scene bloomed into existence in her minds eyes, becoming a full photograph, then animating into a memory.
He was walking towards her, lazily, almost cautiously.
"I can guarantee you that whatever you're upset about, I'ts not worth it," he told her seriously.
"Excuse me?" She turned to face him full on.
"You were about to jump weren't you?" He nudged his chin behind her, which ended abruptly maybe a foot from where she was standing. He put his hand in the pockets of his loose slacks. It was near noon, so the sun was almost directly overhead, shining of the top of his copper hair. They were both squinting. "But I'm telling you, it's not as fun as they make it look on TV, suicide. There are lots of other things that are way more satisfying."
cocked her head and put her arm on her forehead to shield the sun
form his eyes. Did he really… "Oh..." she said, dragging out
the word. "You think that I was trying to…oh, ha! That's a
He raised an eyebrow. "You weren't? Really? Or are you just saying that so I'll go away and let you do it in peace?"
She put her hand down. "No, no. I'd do that somewhere drearier. That lake it way too pretty, you know. I wouldn't commit suicide by flinging myself into it. Could you even? I mean, it's water." She turned away from him to look at the bright lake that glistened like a thousand aquamarine diamonds.
"I don't know," he admitted, coming to stand next to her. "Most likely. It's probably like 75 feet down."
To her left, a few people lazed about on the grass. She saw Jenna down there. It looked like she was waving.
"Humph." Suddenly, Anna remembered that she was only in her bathing suit. Her cover up lay some feet away. She felt odd, with this man standing next to her. He seemed overdressed, really, in his cotton shirt and pants. Everyone she had seen was in as little as decently possible.
"So what were you going to do?" he asked, looking down at her, still squinting. The sun was glaringly bright, so she couldn't quite make out his facial features. "Were you having a Titanic moment or something?"
She grinned – he was very amusing. "I'm was going to jump…just not to die."
He was puzzled. "Well, you know, not a lot of people really plan on dying. They don't go: 'Oh, well today's a nice day for horse riding, and perchance I shall stand behind the horse and get kicked in her neck or something.' They just do things that lead to death."
She laughed again, smiling fully, and moved a few inches away, closer to the edge. "Yes, well, I promise I won't die." And then she flung her arms over her head like a diver and pushed off to the edge of the cliff.
She heard him exclaim something that was lost to the wind and for a second he was airborne, then flying downward, gravity pushing her body toward the beautiful water. The landscape beneath her blurred into bright colors and shimmers, and every muscle in her body was taught with anticipation and excitement. She held the pose for an infinite moment; she might have cried out, yelled in sheer amazement of the feeling, as the air whipped past her like a million ribbons. Then, with a force that hurt, her body tore through the cold water, and she closed her eyes and let the liquid consumer her, before moving her limbs and trying to find up. There was a strange sound, like someone else has dived in as well. Water moved around her, waves that she wasn't making, making it harder to find where she was going. But she propelled upwards, and just before breaking up through the water, a hand grabbed her wrist, pulling her up as well.
She gasped and turned, wet hair sticking to her head, and heard that someone was doing the same. She wiped the water from her eyes and saw that it was that man, holding her wrist and trying to hold her and stay above water.
"Are you aright?" he choked.
"Yes, I'm fine." She yanked out of his grip. He let go and shook his head. "Why are you…?" she began, then gave him a quizzical look and began to swim towards the shore. He followed suit, and soon they were close enough to land to walk.
"What was that?" he shouted.
"I told you I wasn't going to die," she scoffed.
He rolled his eyes. "Oh right. You told me. I cannot believe you just threw yourself into the lake like that. Nearly gave me a heart attack."
She stopped and looked at him, still in his clothes, copper hair now a darker auburn. "Why did you follow me?"
"Well, you just jumped in! I mean, when a woman just flings herself of a cliff, you don't just stand there and watch. My manly instincts took over." He seemed a bit hysterical and slightly defensive, which could come from spontaneously throwing yourself off a cliff some sixty feet of the ground, Anna supposed. It was a bit funny, this wild look in his dark eyes. "But seriously, why did you do that? Are you one of those extreme sports people?"
They had begun to walk again. "No," Anna laughed. "It was…it was a dare."
"A dare?" he demanded. "I got myself all worked up and wet to save you from a dare? Jesus, this is strange."
The water was at their waists now. "Firstly," she told him, "I didn't ask you to jump in after me, kind as that may have been. It's not my fault that you are exceptionally prone to jumping to conclusions –first with the suicide then thinking I was going to die anyway. And secondly, my friend Jenna dared me to jump off because she knows I can't resist a good dare."
"Oh, well that gives meaning to 'If someone dared you to jump off a cliff…' doesn't it now?" he said sourly. They were out of the water now, sitting on the grass. Some people were looking at her with amazed faces. She was watching him attempt to ring water out of his t-shirt, trying not to laugh. He noticed her expression. "I'd bet I just look hilarious. This is just ger-rate," he growled.
Jenna walked over, pushing her glasses on top of her head. "My dear Anna," she said, "I must say that you have really outdone yourself. After the motorcycle incident, I didn't think that you could get more extreme, but…." she laughed a silky laugh, shaking her blue-black hair.
"Oh so she does this sort of thing often, huh?" the man asked.
Jenna laughed. "What did you tell him to get him to jump with you, huh?" she teased.
"He thought I was going to die," Anna answered, smiling as him. "He plunged in after me. It was a stupendous show of chivalry."
"Oh?" Jenna asked, placing a hand on her saronged hip, turning back to him. "Well, any guy would do that in to save a stranger is worth getting to know. Jenna Davidson," she introduced herself.
"Drew Herald." He said shaking her hand. "And for formalities sake …?" he added, turning to Anna.
That had been they first time they'd met, while the girls had been visiting Jenna's parents, people she had known since grade school. They'd all gone to dinner that night, and found out that Drew, in his late twenties, was working a high position in a large company, and his job had brought him to the east coast; he would be traveling back into the city the same day as them.
But now, leaning on the desk of her office, which faced a view of the gorgeous city harbor, Anna pushed all thoughts of him away and began to pick up scattered papers. She didn't want to remember… not anything besides what had ruined something that she had hoped was special. Just like any other dare, she would take him up on it. She was going to forget.