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You've been counting stars, now you're counting on me
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It seemed Melissa was just as tired as Jennifer, maybe even more so. She didn't sound like she was having such a great time right now. She made some comment about mountains being Satan's horns. Jennifer thought about that for a second, bounced it around in her head. She'd never figured Melissa for the religious sort. Maybe it was just a figure of speech, but maybe Melissa actually believed in a higher power.

Jennifer wasn't very devout. Fuck, who was she kidding? She was, on her most spiritual days, an apathetic agnostic. Mostly, she just thought that this life was what you got. Anything else, you couldn't really count on, just hope for. She hoped pretty fucking hard that there was an afterlife, that she wouldn't just end here, wouldn't just not exist in a few days, but she didn't believe it at all. She'd be rotting away soon, bugs eating her skin and fungus growing in her guts.

That wasn't the right thing to think about. She took a drink of water. This was still some of the stuff from the creek. She was probably poisoning herself with nasty chemicals from the mine tailings.

In an effort to reign in these thoughts, she said to Melissa, "Yeah, mountains can be, um, kind of tough. Not as, um, not as nice as walking around town."

She sighed. Her walks had been her therapy, the special alone times that kept her sane and happy. Most of the good things in her life had come to her as a result of walking. Melissa. Maf. They were her real friends, not the cluster of younger students she spent so much time hanging around with. Sure, those kids were good for a chuckle every so often, but Jennifer could never have come to them with personal troubles. Still, she'd been something of a surrogate older sister for them. She wondered what they were thinking right now. Wondered if any of them were watching. In all likelihood, they were just as surprised at Jennifer's continued survival as she was.

She glanced around for a camera, and, finding one, gave it a little wave.

Hi, everyone at home. I'm still here, I guess.

Then she took another big sip of the water. Fuck, it was hot out. The liquid was even lukewarm.

"I, um, I think maybe we should, um, stay here for a bit," she said to Melissa. "That, um, if you don't mind, I mean."

That said, she ducked into the shade of the nearby tree and plopped down, sitting cross legged on the dusty ground. Before, she would never have gotten her skirt dirty like this. She'd have sat on her backpack or something. Now, she didn't care. The garment had seen far worse. It was something of a miracle that it had only a few minor tears below the knees.

After a few seconds, she said to the air, "This sucks."
Juliette Sargent drawn by Mimi and Ryuki
Alton Gerow drawn by Mimi
Lavender Ripley drawn by Mimi
Phillip Olivares drawn by Ryuki
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I Will Follow You into the Dark · The Mountain