*Note: All writing prompts used for this story are located at the end to prevent spoilers. If you want to use the prompts yourself, have at ’em.
Extra Note: Don’t forget, if you like this story and want to know what happens next, leave a comment requesting more (I guess a like works too, though it’s less obvious)! My aim is to revisit the stories with the highest demand and add more to them.
Talk Me Down
Jake’s cell phone was vibrating in his pocket for the third time in his thirty-minute bike ride home, adding to the irritation of his situation. About ten minutes into his ride the clouds had rolled in overhead, and not even five minutes after that, it had started to drizzle. There hadn’t been any rain for almost three months, so naturally, Jake didn’t have his rain slicker. The phone buzzed against his thigh with persistence as Jake blinked water droplets out of his eyes. He didn’t need to stop and check the number. He knew who it was.
Maddison called him every evening, as she had for the last four years of their life together, and even though Jake had broken up with her just over six months ago, she still persisted on continuing the routine. Jake was finally getting better with the whole situation. It had been a full month since the last time he’d answered her, and he was almost emotionally ready to block her number again. Almost.
Maddi’s determination to mend and renew their relationship had all but consumed the first half of Jake’s year, and her obsession had played a significant role in Jake’s recent decision to move to the city. The first two months after breaking things off with Maddison, Jake had been religious in his avoidance of her. He’d started taking different routes than normal to get home, blocked Maddi’s phone number, started going out with his guy friends so as to change up his schedule, everything he could to reclaim his life after years of living it for somebody else. However, at the end of every day, he’d get back to his apartment and find her sitting on the stairs outside of his building, tear-streaked and manic. She’d beg, and cry, and squeal and make such a scene that a few times the neighbors had called the cops on them. His friends had insisted that Jake file a restraining order against her, but he just couldn’t put her through that. So instead, he turned all his attention into finding a new apartment, took a day off from work so as to make the move quickly before Maddi showed up in the evening, and moved from the small town he’d grown up in, to the city. Here, he reasoned, he’d be closer to work, be able to save money on bus fare, and would be far enough away from Maddi that he’d not have to worry about bumping into her. Sure, it made seeing his pals a bit harder since hangouts are now restricted to the weekends when one party or the other was willing to make the commute, but Jake didn’t mind. The change had been therapeutic in its own way. He’d really been able to grow as an individual and was even getting to know himself in a way he’d never been able to when constantly concerned with everyone else’s needs.
Jake’s cell phone started buzzing for the fourth time. A flare of annoyance flashed through him as he peddled. He glowered into the darkening street before him as he let his emotions simmer. He had liked where his thoughts were going, and now, here she was, pulling him out of his positive contemplations and dragging him right back into the early days of their break up. He felt a surge of conviction as he promised himself he’d block her number just as soon as he got home!
Jake took a corner and steered his bike onto the walking bridge that passed over the Seller’s river and let out into the park near his complex. The walking bridge was a recent addition to the city, one that had been pushed through at the insistence of many of the area’s residents. Before the installation of the bridge, walkers and bikers had to cross the massive river expanse on the highway overpass to reach the apartments on the other side. This had all happened before Jake moved, but he could still appreciate the luxury of not riding alongside speeding cars. The river was the width of two football fields side-by-side and took a substantial amount of time to cross. More time than Jake would want to spend next to a city’s-worth of reckless drivers.
He peddled faster, determined to get to his destination and act on this conviction before he had a chance to backpedal on himself (pun intended). When he reached the far end of the bridge, however, a dark streak darted in front of his tires and he hit the breaks, hard. The bike slid on the wet stone of the bridge and refused to stop. The shadow froze in front of his bike for a moment before leaping at the last second. There was the jarring motion of impact, a high pitched yelp, and then Jake was flung forward into the grass of the park on the opposite side of the bridge.
Jake’s phone started to vibrate again as he lay in the wet grass and collected his breath. He glanced around to see his bike lying at the base of the bridge, it’s tires still spinning aimlessly. There was no sign of the shadow, though it had sounded like a dog. A large dog, by the looks of it. The phone insisted and Jake pulled it aggressively out of his pocket. “Fuck off, Maddi!” He demanded of the darkness as he hit the “decline” button before opening his contacts and blocking her number for good and all.
Slowly, cautiously, Jake stood up. He was a little sore, a bit bruised maybe, but otherwise undamaged. He moved over to the scene of the collision and gave a whistle, “Here boy – er – girl.” He whistled again, “Here, dog. Here.” There was no answer. “Hope the poor guy’s okay,” he said to no one in particular as he picked his bike back up.
By the time he pulled up to the stoop of his complex, the rain was coming down with determination. Jake rushed to his door and dug a hand into his pockets for his keys. They weren’t there. He checked his other pockets. They weren’t there either. Panic flooded him then as he tried to recall where he might have left them. If they were at work, he was screwed. The place was locked up, and there was no one who would drive down at this hour to let him in. He also had no friends in the city that he’d be able to crash with. The crash! Jake thought suddenly. Maybe, just maybe, they had fallen out of his pocket when he’d crashed his bike, or more likely, when he’d blocked Maddi’s call. He lept back onto the bike and peddled with a renewed fury back towards the park.
By the time he reached the park, his shirt was soaked through and his dark brown hair, which looked black when wet, was clinging to his warm, chestnut face in loose, wet curls. He skidded to a stop at the base of the bridge and, sure enough, there was a glint of metal in the grass. He praised every holy being that had ever lived as he scooped his keys up. He was about to get back onto his bike when he noticed a shape on the bridge and studied it. A person was standing at the pinnacle of the bridge, overlooking the river below, and, Jake noticed, was standing on the wrong side of the divider. His, or possibly her, feet were precariously perched on the lip of the bridge, as his or her hands clung to the rail behind.
Cautiously, Jake walked his bike towards the shadow. By the time he was within shouting distance, the rain had eased up a bit, and he took his chance with a low, even tone, “You might want to be careful, there.”
The figure started, one of her feet slipped and she swiveled to look at him. He was close enough now to see that the figure was, in fact, a girl. Her hair was black, cut shorter in the back to the point where some had been shaved and tapered at a forward angle past her jawline in the front. Her clothes were all dark too, save the white band logo on her t-shirt. She recovered her balance but continued to stare at him as if she’d never seen another human before. Her expression was wild, her face half turned away from him as she watched him from the corners of her eyes, her body tensed, like an animal that’s spotted a predator. When she answered him, her voice sounded ragged, as though she’d been crying, “Fuck off,” she snapped at him.
Jake’s brow furrowed, though he was more concerned than offended. Something about the girl’s tone and face seemed off. Was she on drugs? He needed to be careful because he had no idea how she might react. He took a few more cautious steps forward, “Are you okay?”
“I said, fuck off.” She said again, her body swaying, as if she wanted to bolt, but remembered she couldn’t from her current position. He put down the kick-stand on his bike and walked a few paces away from it. The girl sucked in a breath, half spinning to face him, “Look, back the fuck up man, I mean it.”
Jake threw his hands in the air and stopped moving, “I’m not going to touch you! I would simply feel a lot better about leaving you here if you come back over to the correct side of that rail. What you’re doing is really dangerous, and if you slip you could get seriously injured. I don’t want to turn on the news in the morning and see a story about you falling and winding up in a hospital. See how that might haunt me for the rest of my life?”
Some of the tension eased out of the girl then as she scoffed, “Oh, yes, real noble of you. Trying to help a stranger so that you can go about your day feeling smug in your self-righteousness. I don’t want your pity. You can keep that for yourself.” She turned away from him, looking back out at the rocky expanse of the river below her, though Jake got the impressions she was still studying him from the corner of her eye.
Jake frowned as he cursed himself inwardly. Wrong thing to say; new tactic. “I think you’ve got me pegged wrong.” He folded his arms on the banister and leaned forward, looking down at the rushing water below them both as it battered itself against the rocks.
“No, I think I hit that peg square on the head.” She all but whispered. Then, her voice growing a bit louder she continued, “People don’t care about anyone other than themselves and their own self-loathing. Wallowing is a full-time job that doesn’t leave any time for anyone, or anything else.”
“I beg to differ.” Jake said, “I know full well that if I leave you here, right now, I will lose sleep due to worrying about you. In fact, if I walk away from you while you’re still on that side of the rail, I’ll be too busy worrying about you to have any time left for self-pity for the next week at least. Hey, wait a minute,” Jake muttered, looking away from her. He dropped his voice, “A week away from my own problems? Heck, maybe I should go, perhaps you’d be doing me a favor.”
She shot him a glance, and he actually managed to get a smile from her as her eyes landed on the ridiculous grin he was beaming in her direction. He noticed her makeup was heavy and dark. Her lipstick looked black in the gloom and her mascara and eyeliner were running in black rivers down her porcelain cheeks from the rain. She studied his face, and he watched her eyes as they darted all over his features with the look of someone trying to understand something new for the first time. She seemed to grow self-conscious then and snapped her eyes back down into the water below as the smile slipped from her cheeks.
Jake hadn’t completely ruled out the “on drugs,” theory at this point, but now he was far more inclined to believe she was simply depressed, or perhaps severely lonely. He tried again, “Please come back over. Before you get hurt.”
He saw a shudder run through her and her expression grow dark. Her voice cracked, “It hasn’t occurred to you that maybe that was the point?”
Jake nodded, “It has.”
She shot him a glare, but just as quick he watched the fight ease out of her as she sighed, “Guess it’s the only logical conclusion to come to when a girl in all black is standing on the wrong side of a precarious bridge in the rain. S’pose I can’t really fault you for that.”
He smiled and nodded, “It’s certainly one of the first notions to cross a person’s mind. That or the girl on the bridge likes the thrill of danger to help her feel alive.” He chanced a few steps closer to her before leaning back on the railing, “Do you want to talk about whatever, or whoever, put you on that side of the fence?”
“No,” she said curtly.
Jake nodded, “Fair enough. Will you tell me your name?”
She frowned at him as she considered, then, “Olivia. Everyone calls me Olive.”
“That’s a beautiful name. My name is Jacob, but everyone calls me Jake. Do you live close by, Olive?”
She nodded, “I come down here every day to clear my head.”
“Do you live with anyone, or are you on your own?”
Olivia snorted, “If only I was lucky enough to be alone! Instead, I’m trapped with my loathsome family. You can’t imagine what they’re like. They’re – they’re poison. They infect the air around them, fill your lungs with the – the – black tar that permeates through the halls. They secrete hatred through their very pores…” she trailed off, and through the pattering of the rain, Jake could hear the soft breaths which told him she was crying. She looked at him, tears mingling with rain, “I don’t know what to do. I don’t have anywhere else to go, and I can’t go back there.” Her body was shaking with sobs, and Jake’s heart leaped into his throat as his fear of her falling intensified.
“I’ll make you a deal,” He tried again, “You climb back over here where you’re safe, and I’ll take you to my favorite diner for some hot coffee or tea, your choice, and we’ll look into options. There’s always help out there, you just need to know where to look and who to call. Can we try that first before you do anything too- permanent?”
Olive shot him a sad smile. She sniffled and a fresh tear rolled down her cheek. “Can I pick the diner?” She asked.
“Of course!” Jake exclaimed, his voice breathy as he straightened up, “Anywhere you like. I’ll even let you ride on the handlebars of my bike if you want.” He gave her the warmest smile he could muster.
Olive let out a sad laugh as she nodded, “Okay. I’ve never ridden on handlebars before. No promises I won’t be the reason we crash into a tree.” Her smile was impish, which complimented her oval face.
Jake was overcome with relief, and he laughed, “Hey, I’ll take crashing into a tree over falling off a bridge any day,” He shoved off the rail and made a move to help her back over. Olive turned herself and was just moving her feet to face the correct side of the bridge when it happened in the blink of an eye.
One moment, Olivia was going to come back over the ledge, and the next, she was gone. Jake raced forward just as her body was swallowed up by the water below. He saw her surface, but she wasn’t moving. Swearing, he ran to the end of the bridge, took a hard left towards the riverbank, ripped off his shoes and socks as he went, and then sprinted down the bank until he was level with her body. He threw himself into the water and swam with all his might. His feet and hands collided with a few of the taller rocks that had been just under the surface waiting for his careless strokes, but he ignored the pain. He grabbed ahold of Olive just before she struck a rock. Now, holding her head above water, he wrapped one arm around her and used his remaining three limbs to paddle back to shore. He dragged her onto the bank, his body trembling from the effort and adrenaline.
He lay her on the bank and surveyed the damage that had been done to her body. One of Olive’s cheeks looked sunken like it had struck a rock, and the blood pooling in the sand under her head told him she’d likely struck more than one. Her leg rested in an unnatural angle and her left hand was bent backward. Panic was gripping his chest as he checked for a pulse that wasn’t there. His first impulse was to call for an ambulance, but when he reached for his cell phone he found it in his pocket. Horror set in, and he realized his mistake as he pulled the water-logged piece of useless plastic from his sopping clothes. He suddenly found himself wishing he’d paid better attention in his CPR class which he’d taken in community college. He’d just wanted the easy credits and hadn’t ever anticipated using the skills in the real world. He performed chest compressions to the best of his memory as the tears began to well up in his eyes. He started to sing under his breath as he matched his rhythm to the song.
He was so focused on the lifeless girl before him that he didn’t hear the rustling in the bushes. After a few moments, a terrier appeared a few paces away. It watched him for a few moments before barking once. Jake looked up without losing count on his compressions. The dog reminded him of a sand-colored Toto from the Wizard of Oz. The dog tilted its head at him, barked again, and disappeared back into the bush.
Despair began to creep into Jake as he slowly came to accept the futility of his efforts. Eventually, his compressions grew weaker until he sat back on his knees and sobbed, looking down at the girl in the sand before him. She’d changed her mind. He’d changed her mind. She hadn’t fully given up on her life and had chosen to go on living. Why hadn’t he been closer? Why hadn’t he insisted she stay still until he was there to help her? He didn’t help her. He didn’t save her.
There was another rustle in the bushes and the terrier returned. Jake looked at it a long moment, tears rolling down his face. The rain had stopped now, but water still ran from his hair and down his face and the back of his neck. The terrier laid down in the sand a short distance from Olive’s head, its head on its paws.
Jake was scarcely aware of the animal. It was here just as the rocks or the shrubs were here. His mind was overwhelmed with the crushing weight of the life he’d just met. He burried his face into his right hand as he sobbed, and leaned onto his left hand as he shifted off his knees. That was when the pain exploded in his hand and shot through his arm. His limb gave out beneath him and he righted himself as he pulled his hand back towards his body. He glanced down at his left ring finger. It was clearly and unmistakably broken. He sucked in a breath. That’s when the sudden fit of coughing jarred him back to the present.
Jake’s head snapped up to see Olive rolling onto her stomach in a fit of coughs. In a choking gurgle, her body forced the water out of her lungs and slowly her breath became clear. Jake watched her with overwhelming disbelief, his heart racing in his chest. Olive groaned, rolled to her side, and with her right hand, reached for her left. There was a sickening crack as she straightened the limb. She looked up at Jake before her eyes fell on the dog and narrowed.
“Careful with that one. He bites.” She murmured. The dog barked at her, “Shove off, Quintus!” She hissed weakly, curling into a ball and sucking in a pained breath. The dog barked again and swiveled to look at Jake before barking at them both one last time and dashing away into the bushes. When the dog was gone, Olive moaned and rolled onto her back, “Well, I guess we can rule bridges out.”
“How- I mean – I thought – Oh thank God!” Jake stammered. He scooted toward her in the sand, ready to help in any way he could, but too afraid to touch her for fear of making things worse, “I thought you were – I thought…”
“Yeah,” Olive groaned, holding her left wrist, “So did I.” Her nostrils flared in distress as she lay in the sand, rocking slightly on her side.
“Don’t – don’t move around so much. You’ve been pretty badly hurt. I’m going to run and go find help. Don’t move, okay?” He lurched to his feet and scanned the darkened expanse of the park. He saw no people within earshot, but his eyes did fall on the black silhouette of an animal standing in front of the nearest street light, making its features near impossible to decipher. Jake was suddenly reminded of the dog he’d been afraid he’d hit earlier in the evening. Jake started forward, cautiously, determined to run for the nearest public phone, but all too aware of this stray animal’s immense size. As he drew nearer to the shadowy figure, the canine turned away from him and the bridge and padded up the park road. From a side angle, he could see that the animal was tall and lanky, with skinny legs and a tail that curled in a crescent behind it, with shaggy hair raining off its body. The beast padded into the darkness of the park and vanished. Well, at least I know the dog is okay. Jake thought.
Olive gave an anguished cry of pain from behind him, and Jake spun. She had sat up, and this made Jake’s heart leap into his throat as he rushed to her side, “I thought I said not to move!” He cried as he skidded down into the sand beside her, “What are you doing?”
Her cheek was a violent shade of purple and black now, and it must have been swelling because the bone no longer looked concave in her face. He glanced at the sand where her head had been and frowned as he realized there had been no further bleeding. He started to feel as though she must not have been as badly hurt as he’d originally thought. Olive reached for her damaged leg then, and she did so with both of her hands and poked and prodded at the damaged bone. “Fuuuck,” she groaned, “This is going to suck.”
Jack rolled back off his knees onto his posterior, pulling his knees up against his chest, and creating a bit of distance between himself and the girl as he watched her, his face impassive. Something didn’t feel right. There was a rustling in the bushes and Jake turned his head in time to see the terrier returning. The small dog barked at them. Olive hissed and swung on the dog, “Seriously, Quintus! Back off!” She swung a fist at the animal, which backed up just enough for her shot to go wide, causing her to cry out in pain and clutch at her battered leg. The terrier continued it’s barking this time, it’s whole body lurching with each yelp. “Quintus! I swear to bloody Christ, I will end you if you don’t-”
“Olive!” A shrill voice broke through the darkness behind them from the direction of the blackened park. Olive and the dog both fell silent at the sound, and Jake spun in the sand to face the walking path behind. Jake’s eyes found the silhouette of a woman closely followed by the big shaggy beast Jake had seen moments earlier. The woman was wearing a red evening gown, her makeup done up as if for an elaborate evening out on the town, and her brown hair was tied up in an intricate bun that must have taken hours to perfect. She had the same porcelain skin as Olivia. She bustled past Jake and swooped down on Olivia with the kind of grace one only expects to see in the movies and cupped the girls bruised and mangled face in two hands, “My sweet darling! What has happened to you? You weren’t sitting on that awful bridge again were you? I told you it was dangerous. It’s alright now, Momma’s here, let me have a look at you,” she began turning Olivia’s face left and right, taking in the damage.
Olivia tried to pull away from her mother, but she was too weak, or the woman was too strong, and she failed to free herself. A second set of hurried footsteps sounded in the grass some distance away, and the terrier began it’s yipping again until a man in a business suit appeared with another dog on his heels, this one a beautiful, red-coated Irish Setter. He dashed forward, causing Jake to leap to his feet to get out of the man’s way. “My gods, Olive! What happened to you! You’re a mess! An utter mess! Are you hurt?”
“Um,” Jake uttered. All eyes swiveled onto him as if he’d magically appeared from thin air, “She was actually hurt pretty bad. I think she needs immediate medical attention.” The man and woman stared at him, mouth slightly agape for a long beat. The woman broke the silence first with a horrified gasp as she and the man turned back to Olive. Both began asking Olive a thousand questions.
“How did this happen?” The woman crooned again.
“Were you sitting on that banister again?” The man demanded.
“She must have fallen off that dreadful bridge.” The woman pouted, stroking Olive’s black hair.
“You’re lucky this boy was there to save you!” The man declared in a scolding tone, shooting Jake another discomforting glance.
“What were you thinking, going near that monstrosity on a night like this!?”
Olive shot Jake a silencing look that made him reconsider embellishing further on the night’s earlier events. The woman fawned over her daughter as she helped Olive to stand on her one good leg, and let the girl lean on her as she hobbled away. Olive shot him another glowering stare as they left. The man hovered behind near Jake, watching the other two retreat, his dog close at hand. The shaggy dog followed the two women until they were lost in the dark, then turned back and waited for the man.
“Look,” The man eventually said to Jake. Jake turned his eyes away from the empty darkness of the park and onto the man. His complexion was darker than the two women, as though he frequented the local beaches or tanning salons. His hair was black as a shadow and meticulously combed over onto one side of his head, paired with an equally exquisite, sculpted mustache. His suit was immaculate, even his knees where he’d been kneeling on the bank were spotless, and there wasn’t a scuff to be had on his designer shoes. The man was looking Jake all over from head to toe, taking him in with an almost hungry expression, a smile playing at the corner of his lips. He spoke, “I don’t know exactly what happened here tonight, but I get the feeling you saved my little girl’s life.” He looked about as uncomfortable as Jake felt.
Jake shuffled his feet and looked down at the dog, “I just did what anyone else would have, had they been here instead.”
The man sniffed rudely, “Bullshit.” He pulled a cigar out of his pocket and flicked open a lighter with a sharp snap. He held up a second cigar, but when Jake made a face he shrugged and stuffed it back, “Anyone else happening upon tonight’s scene would have pretended they didn’t see anything and left her there to her fate.” He held the lighter to the end of the cigar, and puffed on the end until it was lit, “Instead,” he said, closing his lighter with a clink and putting it away, “you risked your own self and took quite a beating in the process.” He gestured to Jake’s bare feet with his cigar, which were jagged and had blood weeping from dirt-packed wounds on the tops where they had struck the rocks. Jake had forgotten about his own batterings.
“Oh, I don’t think that’s true, Sir. There’s plenty a good Samaritan who would have-”
“Save it, Kid. How much do I owe ya?” The man said, reaching back into his pocket and flicking open his wallet. He began counting the bills inside.
Jake blinked, “Come again? Sir, really, you don’t owe me anything. I just did what anyon-”
“Listen, Kid,” The man cut him off.
“Jake,” Jake said, bristling.
“Listen, Jake. I’m a businessman, and I don’t like being in nobody’s debt, ya see? So what do you say – hundred bucks, we call us square?” He snapped a bill out of his wallet and held it up in the air.
Jake’s fists clenched, “I don’t want your money, Mister. I just wanted to know that your daughter was safe.”
“She’s fine. She’s fine.” He said dismissively as he cast his eyes back down to his wallet and counted again, “So, $150 then? Call it even and we all go our separate ways?”
Jake looked at the man incredulous, “Are you-” Something wasn’t right about all this. This was, somehow, about more than simply feeling even, but Jake couldn’t fathom what that undercurrent could be. He made to step around the man, aiming to return to his shoes, but the man side-stepped into his path and the setter at his heels gave a low growl.
The man looked up from his wallet holding several bills. He stuffed them into the pocket on the front of Jake’s chest and patted them, “I see you’re a tough negotiator. $500, and you forget that you ever met us. Understood?”
Jake glared the man down. The dog’s low growls intensified and then were matched as the terrier and the over-sized mutt closed in, their hackles raised. The hair stood up on the back of Jake’s neck and he placed his hand over the money in his pocket.
The man leaned in, his dark eyes locking with Jake’s as he placed a hand on the boy’s shoulder, “I really think you should take the deal.” He said, and Jake found himself feeling agreeable. This man was right. He really should take the deal, “I think you’ll find it’s a very generous one.” He was right again, it was generous. “$500 dollars, you go buy yourself something nice, and all you have to do is never tell anyone what you saw here tonight. Doesn’t that sound easy?”
“Yeah,” Jake muttered, his eyes slipping out of focus as he thought on the man’s words, “That does sound pretty easy.”
“So, does that mean we have a deal?” The dogs had formed a tight circle around the two men, their hackles raised and their growls menacing. They seemed like such nice dogs. It’s too bad Jake never got to pet one. Maybe, maybe he could still pet that red one. She looked so soft. “Jaaake, you listening?”
The man shook him slightly and Jake’s eyes snapped back up, “Yup.”
“Wonderful,” He said, then spoke slower, “So- do we have a deal?”
“Yeah,” Jake said with a smile, “I’ll buy something nice. I think I need a new cell phone now. Mine got all wet. It’s a deal.”
As soon as the words left his lips, the dogs all stopped, and the man straightened with a smile, “Marvelous!” He snapped his wallet closed, tucked it back into his pocket, stuck the cigar between his teeth and shook Jake’s hand in a swift, professional manner. He then spun on his heels and walked away with purpose, the dogs following in his wake as Jake blinked dreamily after him.
He was alone for several long minutes before he realized how late it must be. He picked up his ruined cell phone, eager to place it in a bowl of instant rice when he got home, just in case, rinsed his battered feet in the river, put his socks and shoes over his damp feet, picked up his bike and pedaled home.
Writing Prompts Used:
Today’s writing prompts were taken from the “Writing Prompt” app by “Bew” in the Google Play Store.
- You keep changing cities in order to hide from your psychotic ex.
- In a dark stormy night, you start to look for a valuable thing you accidentally dropped in a street
- Walking on a bridge, you see someone about to jump off. You try to talk them out of it.
- Putting your life on the line, you save a drowning person. A friendship and something more ensues.