Bad Signal Kept Me From Saving My Friend

If your friend asked you to jump off a cliff, would you do it?

“If I ever jumped off a cliff, would you jump with me?”

My best friend asked me this question confidently as if she already knew the answer.

The question threw me off because we were hanging out, having a girl’s picnic eating sandwiches in the park. We called these moments Girl time. She never asked me such a deep question during our girl times. It killed the vibe because I was really enjoying my sandwich.

It was the perfect evening: the golden hour sunset over the bridge, the train rushing across as the whistle screamed. People were out, walking their dogs and letting their children run around and draw caricatures in the mud. My friend and I came to the park only minutes away from our houses. It was so nice to see her sweet face, though we’re only juniors in highschool, we had a good taste of the struggles of keeping a social life while balancing school, working part time jobs and trying to maintain whatever drama we deal with on our own. She had called me after getting off work and told me, “I’m having a bad day.” in between uncontrollable sobs. As a friend, it was only right to get her outside and see how beautiful the day was.

Besides, it was long overdue.

I chewed slower so I could have more time to think about what she was asking me. Jump off a cliff? Why would anyone ask their friend if they would do something like that?
“Are you asking like, with a bungee cord? Or — “
“No, silly… jump off a cliff. Freefall, no one is catching you.”
Of course, the answer is no, but I grew uncomfortable with the longer she waited for an answer.
I made an expression that appeared amused by the question because I was. “What the hell?” I asked. I laughed nervously and made matters awkward before I made it better.
“Would you? I’m serious.” She asked again, leaning closer to me.
The bread, cheese, and folds of turkey I stuffed in my mouth finally dissolved to mush, and I had to swallow.
Now I have to answer the question.
“To be honest?” I said. I finished the last piece of crust on my sandwich. I wiped the crumbs left behind on the picnic blanket.
“ Yes! You have to be!” She gave me a playful shove on my shoulder. Her stern look melted into that contagious smile everybody loves.
Oh, what the hell, I thought, we were sixteen.

Everything is serious when you’re sixteen.

My mother would ask me all the time if your friends jumped off a cliff, would you jump off with them? I always say no.
Mostly because I am deathly afraid of heights and would never put myself in a position where I am too high for my comfort.
But I grew concerned with the look on her face. I could only pray she was joking.

“I would never jump off a cliff literally. But if you ever need me, you can call me.”

My friend looked away from me out into the sun setting below the bridge. We didn’t speak for a moment.
The temperature started to cool off since then. But for some reason, chills spiked down my spine the longer we sat in silence. It wasn’t just a random chill from being overwhelmed by the cooler winds brushing past us. It was a feeling that something was terribly wrong. Her head slowly leaned back, her long hair making amber waves in the wind as she took a deep breath, then smiled.

“You promise?” She outstretched her pinky to mine, and I squeezed back with mine as hard as I could.
“ I promise.”
We were there for another hour before we got in my car and hit the road back home.
Before I let her go, I grabbed her by her arm.
“Hey, you were just joking right?” She paused, then gave me some sort of half nod and a smile. “You really are a good friend, Chanel.” We embraced before I dropped her off at her house. I remember thinking it was one of the best days I had in a while with her. And I couldn’t wait until the next time.
I didn’t know it was going to be the last day I saw my best friend alive.

I should have asked her if something was wrong.

Why would she ask me to jump off a cliff with her? Why not feel comfortable enough to tell me what was happening to her?
Instead, I had to turn on the news at 8 am one morning to learn that my best friend fell 2,000 miles off a cliff on a hiking trail just days after our conversation.
I wasn’t allowed to go to the site where it happened, so I waited to drive to her parents’ house hours after they claimed her body. I cried, screamed, hugged her parents because she was like a sister to me and her parents were like parents to me too. It turns out not even her parents knew why she decided to go hiking at six in the morning.
She was supposed to call me.
Why did she not trust me?

I was her best friend.

“The police have her phone now,” her mother says “They have to look through messages to try to find any evidence that could help us figure out what happened.”
Then I heard a loud four pings! Alerting me that I had two missed calls and two text messages from my friend. My heart could have fallen to my feet. “The messages are from her…” Is all I could say. I turned the phone around so her mother could see.
My dear friend. She must have sent the messages while she was driving to the trail and lost the signal. They were sent as early as 7:30 am, three hours ago.
What she said will haunt me for the rest of my life:
6:55 am: Chanel. Going to the cliff. I’m going to do it. Don’t try to come. know you are afraid of heights.
7:35 am: you are a good friend.

** This is a complete work of fiction about mental health how some signs of illness are hard to detect in any age groups. Mental Health is something I take very seriously and will always support work that spread awareness to mental health and suicide prevention awareness.

I have here below a link to Suicide Prevention Lifeline :

As always, Thank You for reading!

Reader. Writer.Student of life. Dreamer. Storyteller. Creating a safe space for my fellow weirdos.

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