“No!” The scream tore from my lips as I raced into the bathroom, slipping and falling into the puddle of bloody water slowly spreading across the tiled floor. Crawling to my hands and knees, I scrambled to the edge of the tub, not caring my clothes were soaking up the offensive fluid. “Help! Somebody help me!” The panicked cry left my throat feeling shredded, as I plunged my hands into the red water seeping over the porcelain edge, dragging Jessi’s face back to the surface.
Her long blonde hair clumped limply around my hands and I shook her violently. “Jessi!” A long painful howl escaped me. “Oh, God! Please don’t let her be dead!” My whole body trembled as I tried to pull her from the tub; but she was too heavy. “Somebody help me!” I screamed again, my shriek echoing off the walls. I stood there, alone and in shock, holding her slack body above the waterline.
“What’s going on?” Danica's panicked voice drifted from the hallway along with the sound of running feet.
“Call an ambulance!” I yelled.
“Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh!” Danica's terrified voice reverberated shrilly through my head as she entered the room behind me. “Caleb! We need you!”
Danica's hands dipped into the water, grabbing Jessi by her jeans, and the two of us struggled to drag her out.
“No, Jessi! No!” Danica wailed.
Strong arms scooped Jessi up, relieving us of the burden and I glanced over to see Caleb’s stricken face as he lifted her, moving her onto the floor.
“Do something!” Danica hollered, her hands sliding to her cheeks in horror.
“Mom, go call 911!” Caleb commanded the hysterical Danica, and she rushed from the room.
My fingers drifted to Jessi’s neck, automatically seeking a pulse. “I can’t find anything!” I said, my voice shaking.
Caleb shook his head. “We’re too late.” Tears slipped over the rims of his eyes. In all the years I’d known him, I’d never seen him cry. Ever. This was bad.
“No! We can’t give up!” I argued, placing my hands on Jessi’s chest. Pressing down, I began counting as I started CPR. She was my best friend in the whole world! I couldn’t lose her!
“Anna . . . ,” Caleb’s voice barely registered, as I focused in on Jessi’s mascara streaked face, watching for any sign of life. “Annalisa!” He shouted my full name, breaking through my cloudy mind. I glanced at him briefly, not stopping. “Look at her! She’s lost too much blood. Who knows how long she’s been in here.”
“She called me an hour ago!” I replied in a sob, continuing to work. Water bubbled through her blue lips as I pushed. Caleb helped me roll her to the side, letting it drain, and I checked again for a pulse. Nothing.
Gently laying her back down, I leaned over her once more.
“Anna,” Caleb said flatly.
“What?” I snapped, knowing he was trying to tell me something I didn’t want to hear. I was determined to do whatever I could.
“The wounds in her wrists are deep. There’s no blood coming from them. I think she’s bled out.”
Glancing at the damaged flesh, I saw he was right, but I couldn’t make myself stop.
“I can’t lose her, Caleb,” I replied, hearing the defeat in my own voice, but still continuing the compressions.
He didn’t fight me, instead joining me, breathing into her mouth at the appropriate intervals. Danica reappeared, the phone pressed to her ear. Shakily, she shouted instructions from the dispatcher. Ages passed before I heard the wail of sirens, followed by a bustle of people entering the small bathroom, carrying a bunch of gear.
Strong arms wrapped around me, dragging me away from my friend and into the hallway. “Let them do their job,” Caleb’s voice whispered in my ear. Even though he was trembling, he didn’t let go of me and, for that, I was grateful. I wasn’t sure if I could stand on my own.
Unable to see much through the crowd of bodies, I waited for someone to tell us something. It wasn’t long before a man slipped from the room, casting a sympathetic glance in our direction. Walking several steps down the hall, he disappeared around the corner. Clearly trying to keep us from overhearing, his words stabbed me as he spoke softly into his radio. “Dispatch? We need the coroner.”
Danica wailed and sank to the floor.
“Go to her,” I said, pushing Caleb in her direction. He released me and I dropped to my knees, unable to swallow past the huge knot in my throat. A choking sob escaped me as I watched Caleb gather his stepmom into his embrace, the two of them clutching each other desperately.
Reality punched me straight in the stomach. My best friend was dead. Jessi had committed suicide and I had no idea why. What had happened? What had I missed? I thought I knew everything about her! This couldn’t be happening—it had to be a horrible nightmare or something, right? I couldn’t have missed something so important, could I?
Glancing down at my wet, bloody clothes, I felt the bile rise into my throat. Covering my mouth with my hand, I stumbled to my feet and ran toward the downstairs bathroom, barely making it to the toilet before I vomited.
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