Kelsey cuts herself but no one really pays attention to her. She doesn’t mind because she’s lost her ability to care about what others think of her or her situation. Her parents are too preoccupied vying for other people’s attention. Her siblings seem a generation older than she. What friends? The last Facebook message she received read, “Kelsey flings her boogers around. Beware of UFOs.” Old junior high school crap. Forever memorialized because she doesn’t know how to delete the account.
She’s in her first year of college now. Why did she even bother going? She chose psychology as her major even though she doesn’t want to hear other people’s problems. She took it on only because she didn’t know what else to do. Pressure everywhere. Finally, spring break is here. A break-out from all her problems, her haters, herself. She’s going to go big. Going to the Grand Canyon, where there’s just her and nature. No more people, no more boring lectures.
Now Kelsey’s at the airport, thankful for her little friend, Visa, as supplied by her parents. At least she didn’t have to worry about where to get her next meal. Now she wonders. Am I just another spoiled brat with nothing else better to do? No, she tells herself. I’ve done my share of community service and charity events. I just can’t get in step with others. She boards the plane, finds her seat, and reclines, closing her eyes.
“Kelsey, is that you?”
Kelsey blinks and sees a pair of smiling hazel eyes. Her mind rifles through memories, trying to place the face. Bingo!
“Hell yeah! Amazing how you haven’t changed much. The same cute freckles and that shade of red hair I can’t forget.”
“Oh my God! I can’t believe this. What are you doing here?”
“Going to hike the Grand Canyon. You? Going to Vegas to roll some dice?”
“I’m still stunned to see you. Never in a thousand years did I think I’d see you after what . . . fifth grade?”
“Yeah, right. From kindergarten through fifth, we were quite the pair together, huh? Tell me what you’ve been up to since you moved away.”
Kelsey grew quiet. How much should she tell this boy, who was her first and only best friend? Well, former; they never kept in touch, so would that make it former then, right? They were only kids.
“You tell me first, Jess. ‘Cuz my mind’s still scrambled from surprise to see you.”
“I’m actually traveling by myself, Kels . . . Hey, remember that? How we’d be called Jess and Kels? We were like twins, but no one ever really understood us, did they?”
Jess’ eyes darkened, “I’ll confess, Kels, nothing right’s going on with me. People talk behind my back and say there goes Jess the mess. I can’t believe I’m telling you this, but I’ve always had a connection with you. Like, I don’t even feel like we’ve been separated for years.”
“Hey, let’s hike the Canyon together.”
They reminisce over the mischief they caused and recall their childhood jokes. They put off talking about the underlying grimness they really feel. Enough time for that when they hike.
The next day, Jess and Kelsey drive out to the Grand Canyon together, simply enjoying each other’s presence, allowing the iPhone tunes playing through the car speaker to blast away the silence and unsavory thoughts. Upon reaching the Grand Canyon and beginning their hike, their conversation drifts again into the dim realm of their present reality.
They find a spot where they stand alone; Kelsey starts to cry.
“My life is a mess too, Jess. It’s a joke. But, as I’m looking out here right now, I see why we’re here. It’s to appreciate the beauty of this world.”
“I get it now too, Kels.”
They hold hands and look quietly out into the deepness of the canyon. They stare at each other, both deciding in their private thoughts to say good-bye to their original plans to jump. They feel a glimmer of hope as their curiosity awakens to what the next day will bring.