“Don’t leave me!” Jennifer cried in Jell’s direction.
Which was altogether pointless, but Jell didn’t complain. For 9 years, Jell had not left Jennifer. For 9 years, Jell had protected her. And, for 9 years, Jell had followed Jennifer wherever her whims had led them.
So many adventures they had together those 9 years! The whims of Jennifer were wide and varied, and sometimes silly, and sometimes frighteningly dangerous. This was one of those dangerous times, perhaps the most dangerous, but Jell didn’t complain. She would follow Jennifer into the depths of hell if that’s where she wanted to go.
That’s really not that far from the truth this time, Jell thought to herself as she looked back at Jennifer and motioned for her to come on.
Jennifer had led them into a volcano. Why they were in a volcano, Jell had no idea, and she was terrified, but she didn’t complain. Jell was leading the way over the rocky steps trying to find the best path through. They were surrounded by lava and the safe places to step were few and far-between. The rocks appeared in places here and there like tiny rocky islands in an ocean of lava. Many of them were slippery. Occasionally, she’d find a rocky outcropping large enough to rest for a minute, which she needed badly; maintaining her balance hopping from stone to stone was exhausting.
Breaking the silence, Jennifer cheerfully asked, “Hey do you remember that time I stitched up your neck?”
Jell turned around and smiled. Jennifer was always so cheerful and it always made Jell’s heart swell. Of course she remembered, it was one of her fondest memories. They had taken an adventure through the woods and had a horrible incident with a thorn bush. Jennifer had cried uncontrollably while she stitched up Jell’s neck, and had continued crying long after. The cut had been minor, but it was large enough to require stitching. It hadn’t been life threatening, though. The pain had been excruciating both before and after and especially during the stitching, but Jell had never complained; her only concern had been consoling Jennifer in some way.
Jennifer smiled back at Jell. And then they just smiled at each other for a moment, eventually breaking into a laugh; the kind of hearty laugh that can only be shared between the best of friends. They didn’t laugh too hard, though, because they were still busy keeping their balance.
They carried on for a while, Jell in the front finding the path, and Jennifer happily following and laughing all the while. Jell was amazed at Jennifer’s ability to laugh in the face of these dangerous situations. Jennifer really enjoys this stuff, Jell thought, and suddenly she felt a swell of courage within and she pressed on ever more quickly.
The rocky islands came to an end at a cliff face; a cliff face so tall that they couldn’t even see the top. Jell turned around to go back, but Jennifer was having none of that. She gaily jumped onto a thin ledge leading along the cliff and began to inch her way along it. Jell had no choice but to follow.
Jell’s newfound courage vanished on the ledge. The ledge varied greatly in width and the lava below seemed ever hotter. The lava seemed to be bubbling more than it had around the stone islands, and even sometimes bubbled up to just below the ledge. Jennifer was undeterred, however, even as they came upon gaps in the ledge. She hopped across them with glee. Jell was terrified for Jennifer, but she didn’t complain; she simply followed.
Jell was so relieved when the ledge finally came to an end. She thought for sure they would turn back. She thought they didn’t have any choice. Of course, Jennifer had other ideas. She spotted another ledge just above them and decided to jump for it, but that ledge proved to be unclimbable.
Jennifer jumped and grabbed the ledge, but she did not find her grip. She scrambled with both hands and flailed her legs in every direction as Jell frantically tried to think of a way to save her.
“Jelly Bean I’m going to fall!”
Then the ledge gave way and Jennifer came crashing down on top of Jell, followed immediately by the ledge crashing on top of both, and pushing them off the ledge at the same time! Jell’s leg caught in a crack on the edge of the ledge, and she could only watch as Jennifer fell into the lava.
“What are you doing this time?!” mom asked exasperatedly as she ran into the room.
It was a good thing the floor wasn’t actually lava. Jennifer turned out to be fine, but the book shelf that just broke earned her a massive scolding. Jell could only watch helplessly as she dangled from the bottom shelf.
Jennifer interrupted her scolding. “I have to save Jelly Bean, she looks hurt!”
“Like I already told you, I am NOT fixing that teddy bear again! You’ll have to fix her YOURSELF!”
Mom picked up the broken shelf and stormed out of the room.
Jell’s leg ended up being broken in two places. Jennifer fashioned her a cast for it and a little crutch that was just the perfect size for Jell to hobble around on. Their next adventure would have to wait for Jell’s leg to heal, and Jell certainly did not complain about the wait.