The Gravity of Benham Falls by Jeremy Robert Johnson

Following in the same vein as The Dead Girlfriend by R.L. Stine, “The Gravity of Benham Falls” also takes place in or around a waterfall. Coming from Jeremy Robert Johnson’s short story collection Entropy in Bloom, the story deals with a woman struggling to pay her father’s hospital bills who is lured to a waterfall that happens to be the spot where her kid brother fell into when she was younger. Her plan is to seduce a certain drug dealer enough to gain his trust and eventually rob him of his drug stash in money. Unfortunately, she gets herself into a situation that is a little bit more than she can handle. Tony, the man she tries to seduce, manipulates her perfectly by faking passionate kisses that have her wrapped around his finger. He tells the origin story of Benham falls, which was originally known as Sostone Falls. In his story, Sostone Falls was named after an Indian princess of the Tolaquin tribe who threw herself into the falls as an act of protest to the relocation of her tribe. Rumor has it that you can see her face in the falls if you look up during a full moon. After people began falling into the falls and dying, the waterfall was renamed to Benham falls. Following the story, Tony begins kissing the girl while she begins to hallucinate the face of the Indian princess before waking from her hallucinatory state to Tony strangling her into a blackout. He then reveals that after finding a bracelet at the falls, the Indian princess tells him to throw women into the falls, an act which he has begun to enjoy. He also reveals that he was, unknowingly, the person who pushed her brother into the falls many years in the past. A vision of her brother Michael tells her to let go, which she does, thus pulling herself and Tony into the waterfall. As she falls she has visions of the other women who were pushed into the waterfall. She ends up landing on top of Tony and somehow surviving, pulling herself on the mossy shore and hot-wiring Tony’s car. She plans on selling Tony’s vintage Camaro and visiting her father in the hospital. The end.

I read this directly after reading The Dead Girlfriend by R.L. Stine and I couldn’t help noticing that both featured a character with a yellow striped shirt and blue jeans standing at the top of a waterfall. Was this intentional or just a coincidence? Who knows. But I enjoyed that connection. After reading so much about them, I feel a deep necessity to visit a waterfall. Maybe Ill even throw myself in!

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