I had a friend with long red hair. Not the kind of luminous red that would glow in the sunshine, but rather, the kind of red that reminds someone of bricks. It seemed an appropriate color considering it mirrored the heaviness she felt in every corner of herself. That heaviness was familiar. I understood her. Her fears and anxieties were mine. Sometimes it's all too much. Sometimes we crave stripping away the noise and traffic and dipping our bodies into a river of silence. She never told anyone when she was leaving. But I knew. I could tell. All of her pictures became substitutions of who she wanted to be. Her language changed, her eyes were desperate and her laughter became nostalgic. A heavy sadness walked through the door before she did, almost as if it were dragging her along. She was ready, and I knew. After all, it takes one to know one.
From afar I watched. I saw her tie up loose ends. I sat in the background and watched her say her goodbyes, without actually saying goodbye.
She took nothing with her. Neither did I. I followed her like a distant shadow attached to the soles of her feet. It felt like a normal walk at first. But the sky quickly transformed into a charcoal spray painted mass above. It stormed. We had no shelter or shield. But she charged through, pushing aside any heavy drops in her way. As the storm began to subside, we entered a forest. A forest made up of sharp thorns and branches so intertwined, I could barely breathe. But nothing could stop her. The heavy sadness would again drag her through this mess. Not a sliver of doubt could seep in without the heaviness turning its head and reminding her of their destination.
Her bare feet pounded step by step through the thick, muddy ground. Each step felt closer to quicksand and my fear was being trapped here; to be slowly swallowed up by this earth. She pushed through, her legs reminded me of someone cycling slowly, in a fluid motion. I was exhausted. I couldn't fight anymore and I suspected neither could she. Her once white dress was heavily soiled with the clay-like earth and smears of her blood. It was the color of bricks, just like her hair.
As I pushed through, I began to notice the land slope upwards as the ground dried out. The rain nearly stopped. Light shined so brightly, it beautifully highlighted the edge of this forest. The edge meant there was an end. And the end looked like a wondrous landscape of peace.
She walked through the final curtain of twigs and raindrops and closed her eyes. This calm wasn't the kind of calm to be seen. She closed her eyes to feel it's intensity and allow it to fill her body like helium in a balloon. The sadness left her. It drug itself back into the forest to lead another.
She walked closer and closer to the bank of the river, never opening her eyes. I followed. We both crept slowly, allowing tiny waves of water to tickle our toes. Then she stepped in, fully. I took one step forward and stopped. I felt a tremendous rush travel from the soles of my feet to the top of my head, and every cell throughout. Instant regret washed over me. I opened my eyes and knew this was not my journey to be on. I prayed that this ground wasn't like wet cement. I didn't want it to dry and leave me a permanent fixture in this river. But the ground loosened its grip on my ankles and allowed me to step back. I fell to the soft ground and folded myself in half to cry on top of my bent knees.
I tilted my head and I watched her. With eyes still shut, she took another step in. The rush she felt from the water was different from the rush I felt. Hers was a feeling I could never know. It had almost hypnotized her into believing she was going home. Her stained dress slowly waved at me as it was gently submerged. Her long hair teased the edge of the water, while her hands skimmed the top of it. I pulled myself up and with every step I took back, she took one forward. I watched her shoulders disappear. After two more steps, she took her last breath of this air. The river was silent. Her ankles were bricks. Her thighs were bricks. Her elbows and stomach were both bricks. Her hair was made of bricks. And she was gone. Bricks.
Kristi Jeansonne is a writer from Lafayette, Louisiana. She writes about deeply personal life experiences and struggles. ‘Bricks’ is about two friends who shared the same sense of loneliness and quiet desperation. Deep depression is often compared to the feeling of drowning. Some are able to rise up and stay afloat, while others, unfortunately, succumb to the silent river. Kristi credits writing everyday with helping her stay above water.