Description: Young Jennifer and Needy face "evil" for the first time. A bully is tormenting Needy on the playground. Does Jennifer care enough to help her friend?
Note: This fic contains some mild femslash and some lite violence.
Credit where credit is due: Jennifer and Needy created by Academy Award winner Diablo Cody.
Everything is fictitious.
The Rock and the Unconquered Sun
by Diablo Priest
Even in the fourth grade, Jennifer was "popular." She looked like Snow White; and like every true princess, she had to be adored by many. During recess, she would often ditch Needy to hang out with older kids — the fifth and sixth graders. Yes, Jennifer could always go places that Needy could not, could always associate with people that Needy could not. However, Jennifer knew these kids were not her genuine friends, and she would become bored with them — not bored really — Jennifer would become lonely for her true friend, Needy. Adoration had an ironic side effect: loneliness.
Devil's Kettle Elementary School had an old part, built in the 50s, and a newer part, built in the 70s. Between the two structures was a canyon-like space spanned by a steel-and-glass bridge, which connected the two buildings. Whenever Jennifer couldn't find Needy on the playground at recess, she would find Needy under the glass bridge. No one was supposed to play in the gap between the buildings; but whenever Needy was picked on, she would sneak off and hide under the bridge. Jennifer knew this secret.
Needy was a cute blonde girl, but she wore glasses, was sensitive, and liked books a bit too much. Seeking to avoid unwanted attention at recess, Needy would shelter under the bridge. As Jennifer approached her blonde friend's covert, she could hear Needy's pitiful little sobs. Because she was in the fourth grade, Jennifer could walk under the bridge with two feet of clearance.
"Yuk!" Jennifer cursed as she swatted away a cobweb, complete with dead bugs, hanging from the underside of the bridge. "I feel like I'm about to meet a troll, or entering a tomb."
Needy was there, sitting with her chin on her boney knees. She didn't say anything. Too blonde and too pretty to be a troll, too vivacious and too radiant to be a corpse, perhaps what Needy resembled most, sitting as she was with her glasses on, was a tiny frog — a delicate little swimmer in life, facing drought and a meagre existence on insects poisoned by insecticide. And sometimes little frogs have to swim in polluted waters.
"Are you crying again, Needy?" Jennifer asked.
"No!" Needy said, sniffling and slipping her fingers under her glasses to wipe away the tears from her eyes.
"Has Ruby been calling you 'Lezzie Lesnicki' again?"
"And her friend Dina added 'loser' now," Needy whined.
Jennifer clicked her tongue loudly, but Needy couldn't tell with whom Jennifer was annoyed.
"Don't be such a baby, Needy," Jennifer commanded. "'Sticks and stones...'"
Needy pushed her glasses back to the bridge of her nose and was silent.
Jennifer sighed. She was annoyed with Needy.
"C'mon," Jennifer said impatiently. "There's two swings open. Let's swing before we have to go back inside."
Needy stood up slowly, and Jennifer took her hand.
Instantly, Needy jerked her hand away as if the spider from the cobweb were crawling on it. The look of shock on Jennifer's face made Needy regret her reflex in the next instant; but just before hurting Jennifer's feelings by pulling her hand away, Needy had felt so bad about herself that she didn't want anyone touching her, especially another girl. Needy's pain was caustic and self-corroding.
Before Jennifer's expression of surprise faded, Needy exploded into tears. Never had Jennifer seen Needy cry so hard. Her wail echoed off the brick walls, so that Jennifer was sure that all the children on the playground heard it. Jennifer looked around, but no one appeared as her friend cried.
"Needy, what's wrong?" Jennifer asked, her anger at Needy for pulling her hand away forgotten. "What's wrong? Please stop crying."
Needy continued to bawl.
"You're not a loser, you're not," Jennifer said. "Don't listen to those bullies."
But Needy's tears continued to flow. Jennifer grew more anxious. Her friend could not be allowed to suffer.
Jennifer looked all around. No one could see this, no one. Quickly, precisely, Jennifer lifted up Needy's chin and planted a kiss on Needy's anguished, twisted mouth. Jennifer's kiss was like a miracle. Needy's tears ceased. Jennifer loved her! The other kids would have called Needy an ugly troll if they knew she hid under the bridge, but that didn't matter — Jennifer loved her! It was as though Jennifer's love were the light of the Unconquered Sun, slain by darkness, yet risen. Once forsaken and alone, Needy was now saved. At times Jennifer might be annoyed with Needy and even a little mean toward her blonde friend; but like the rising sun, Jennifer's love would always return to Needy with a glory that vanquished all darkness.
"Jennifer," Needy sighed poignantly.
The raven-haired girl smiled at her friend.
"C'mon," she said. "Let's go swing!"
"Okay," Needy replied, smiling too; and she took Jennifer's hand.
Together, hand-in-hand, they ran out into the brilliant sunlight, their pony tails flailing as they ran to the swings. To soar together.