13DWF Day Six: "Jump" by Jill Hand

Our sixth story of The 13 Days of Weird Flash is Jill Hand's "Jump" from our "Summer '23" release.

13DWF Day Six: "Jump" by Jill Hand
Jill Hand, author of "Jump"

We made it to Wednesday!

To celebrate the start our slide towards the weekend (and December!), today we’ll be featuring the story “Jump” from WFQ’s Summer ’23 edition by Jill Hand.

Jill’s an interesting character in her own right, having started out as an elementary education and special education teacher before training to become a private detective. She exited that line of work after an incident when she and her mentor were shot at leaving a Mafia wedding. (Did we mention that Jill hails from the beautiful Garden State of New Jersey?) After a brief stint as a private eye, she became a newspaper reporter and editor. She is the author of the Southern Gothic novels White Oaks (2019) and Black Willows (2020), with a third novel to be released in April 2024. Jill is autistic, and that considers that a feature - not a bug.

Stick around for more from Jill after the story.


By Jill Hand

My mother used to say, “If your friends all jumped off a bridge, you would, too.”

She stopped saying that after my friends actually did jump off a bridge. Despite my mother’s foreboding, I didn’t follow them to their deaths on the rocks below. I was the girl who was too afraid to jump. I was the girl who ran for help. I was the girl who grieved.

That’s what people believed and why wouldn’t they? After all, girls love their friends. Even mean girls love their mean friends. None of us were mean girls. Not Holly, not Emma, not Ayana, not me. We were wholesome and kind. We weren’t bullies. Anyone was welcome to eat lunch with us. We volunteered. We participated in extracurricular activities. We were going places.

Where Holly and Emma and Ayana went was not to the college of their choice, following a senior year capped with a prestigious summer internship. They went off the Merrill Street bridge, at my instigation.

There’s only so much room at the top. I was outstanding in many ways, but compared to my three besties, one who overcame leukemia, one a first-generation American, one who grew up in foster care, I was nothing special.

My friends and I wanted to go to, well, let’s call it Worthing University. The admissions officer would take one look at my middle-class background, at my white-bread life and yawn. I had to do something, or I’d be passed over in favor of someone more “deserving.” I couldn’t stand it if Holly or Emma or Ayana got in and I didn’t. So, I solved the problem. I solved it by being the girl who lived, the one who created a memorial scholarship to honor her lost friends.

How do you make three bright girls jump off a bridge? It helped that it was a brutally hot summer, one when there hadn’t been much rain, making the water level in the Ascuttawan River unusually low. It helps if you and your friends have just watched a movie in which girls join hands, and in a spontaneous act of high spirits, leap off a bridge, landing safely and laughing in the river below.

“We should do that,” I said.

The four of us were taking Emma’s labradoodle, Grover, for a walk. It was suffocatingly hot. Our flip-flops kicked up puffs of dust.

Ayana objected, “It’s too dangerous.”

“Boys do it all the time,” I said.

That captured their interest.

“What boys?” asked Holly.

“Jason and Matt.”

Those were boys we knew. They’d done it last summer, before the spillway from the dam a mile upriver was rebuilt. Now jumping from the bridge would be a very bad idea, but to my unsuspecting friends, it sounded ideal. We’d cool off and seal our friendship, like in the movie.

At the last moment, I let go of Emma’s hand.

That’s what makes someone like me a winner; we don’t let a little thing like friendship stand in our way.

Q&A with Jill Hand

WFQ: Why do you write weird fiction and when did you start?

JH: I write weird fiction because life is weird. I'm not sure when I started doing it. I think everything I ever wrote has something a little weird in it.

WFQ: Who are the literary inspirations for your contributions?

JH: My literary inspirations for WFQ are Kurt Vonnegut, William Hope Hodgson, Clark Ashton Smith, Algernon Blackwood, M.R. James, and Kage Baker.

WFQ: What do you like most about the 500-word format we use? What do you find most challenging with it?

JH: I like the 500-word format because it makes in rein in my tendency to ramble. It's good discipline. It's difficult to construct a beginning, middle and end in only 500 words, but it can be done.

WFQ:  If you were made editor for an issue, which theme would you choose to guide a whole WFQ installment?

JH: If I were made editor for an issue I would choose the theme of robots, because robots are cool.

WFQ: Where else can we read more of your work? Where can we find out more about you?

JH: You can read more of my work by going to my author page on Amazon. The third book in my Southern Gothic thriller series about a VERY weird family, will be released by Black Rose Writing in April, 2024.

Good luck with the rest of your week, fellow weird readers.

However, please take care out there so you’re around to celebrate the remaining 7 (of 13) Days of Weird Flash with us. Pay special heed to any ambitious high school seniors working on their college applications. (A few remaining early admission deadlines are later this week.) We hear that the competition to get into the best schools is downright murderous these days.

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