The Jump

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     You stood on the edge of the Grand Canyon. Wind rustled your hair, teasing you— if it was a little stronger it would push you off. You wished it would, because you weren’t sure you could do it. You weren’t sure you could jump.
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The Grand Canyon (picture taken by author in March 2017)

    Sucking in a breath, you took another step closer to the edge, looking further down.
 
    You had come all this way just for this moment. You couldn’t just not do it now.
 
    “Kimball, if you don’t want to do it right now, you don’t have to.”
 
    Soren floated in front of you. His bare toes brushed the dirt just slight, and then left the ground as he soared out onto the cliff, effortlessly. Beautifully. Without a worry or care. 
 
    You shifted. That is what you wanted.
 
    Soren looked down, his face twisting slightly. 
 
    “It’s beautiful, Kim, but I just don’t get why—“ 
 
    “If I’m going to die,” you interrupted, then hesitated. “If I’m going to die…” You looked down at the chasm. “Then I want it to be worth it. I want it to be beautiful.” 
 
    “You might not die.” 
 
    “I might not live either.” The rays of the setting sun made the canyon a more vibrant shade of orange. 
 
    “I’ll catch you.” 
 
    You looked back up at him. His sincere eyes seemed to glow in the light of the setting sun. 
 
    “That’s not how it works.” 
 
    “Who says that’s not how it—?” 
 
    “I have to feel the rush. I have to feel the fear. I have to expect to hit the ground, I can’t count on you to catch me, or I won’t fly. That’s how it works.” You took a shaky breath, and then another small step toward the edge. You could hear the sound of sightseers behind you still, but no one questioned or stopped you. “We all know this is how it works.”
 
    “I don’t want you to die, Kim,” his voice cracked, and he looked down. Soren floated toward you and touched the ground, which he only did when he was going to hug you, so you held out your arms. He stepped into your embrace and hugged you tightly. 
 
    “I have to know, Soren,” you whispered, your heart pounding. “I love you more than anything else, but I have to know. If I don’t, what kind of existence will I live?” 
 
    “An existence with me, on the ground, would that be so bad?” he whispered back. 
 
    “No. In fact, it’s all I ever wanted…” water began to fill your eyes, but you quickly blinked it back. “But I will be plagued by the question, the idea of it… and I will go insane. Because… what if I can fly? What if I am like you?” 
 
    He stepped back and looked at you, his gaze trailing up and down your face.
 
    “But what if…?” 
 
    “No. I am doing this.” 
 
    You pushed him gently and put your toes on the very edge. Only half an inch kept you from your destiny. 
 
    “Kimball…” Soren said, his voice tight.
 
    “Tell me again how it feels.” You looked up at the sky, and then closed your eyes. 
 
    “It’s… terrifying. The jump,” Soren began timidly.
 
    “I thought you said you were excited when you did it,” you interrupted. 
 
    “I was. All my friends had done it and described it to me. I was twelve, so I didn’t think twice until I stood on the edge.” 
 
    You opened your eyes, embracing where you stood. 
 
    “And then it occured to me for the first time, as I stood there, with all my friends watching… that I might not make it.” 
 
    You embraced the fear as he spoke.
 
    “I’m still not sure whether it was peer pressure, or stupidity, but, looking back… I just knew I would fly. I had faith that I would rise from the ground. So when I jumped… I relished the wind and the speed… and the view. It wasn’t much, it wasn’t like this, but the trees and the sky… I wanted to keep seeing it. And I did. There were shivers on my body when the gravity suddenly didn’t seem so heavy… and then, I just remember there being more wind, and an endless sea of trees…” 
 
    Soren took a deep breath. 
 
    “Take the jump, Kimball. It’s worth it.”
 
    “H-how, how will I know how to do it? What if I can fly, but I fall because I don’t know how?” your heart was beating erratically, your courage was failing, maybe you didn’t want this— 
 
    “It doesn’t work that way. If you can fly, you will. You won’t be able to stop yourself.” Soren touched your elbow, and you looked at him. “I support whatever you choose right now, Kimball.” 
 
    “Thank you. I love you.” 
 
    And then you stepped forward.
 
    You screamed, and it echoed around your body as you plunged. The wind pushed against you, and you fell faster, and faster. The orange light was blinding, the wind blurred your vision, you stretched out your arms toward the light as you were plunged suddenly into the shadow of the canyon. The ground zoomed toward you. You tried to feel the shivers, you tried to pull yourself back toward the light, but you realized in that last moment that you would not escape the earth’s pull. 
 
    You couldn’t fly.
 
    You shut your eyes. 
 
    And then a loud shout sounded next to you, and you opened your eyes to see the tops of trees and a river and then— 
 
    Soren grabbed your shirt and screamed loudly, pulling you forward with him. You screamed as you flew past the trees, their branches hitting your arms until you finally flew into a clearing. Your shirt was riding up, it was going to snap from the speed and the weight and you imagined falling into the river beneath you— but then he swooped upward and— let go. You soared upward with a scream, but in a short second arms were wrapped tightly around your waist, his chest in your face, and as you pulled your head up your eyes were blinded by the light. 
 
    He flew foward again, and you wrapped your legs and arms around him. Your eyes were wide and your breathing was heavy, as you comprehended what had just happened. 
 
    “You— you— you saved me! You caught me! Soren? How could you? How could you? How? How c—?” Tears overflowed your eyes and you clutched him tightly, trying not to sob. The wind blew the tears from your cheek.
 
    “Kimball, I…” 
 
    “I can’t fly, Soren. I didn’t feel any of it. I was just afraid. I was just falling. There was no faith, there was nothing, there wasn’t anything, I just fell…” You looked down at the terrifyingly beautiful canyon beneath you.
 
    “Shhhh,” he rubbed your back, “It’s okay.” 
 
    “But I can’t fly, Soren, I can’t fly…” 
 
    “You don’t need to fly. You have me.” He held you tightly, and soared farther up, up toward the clouds and the blue and the orange. You shut your eyes, breathing in his scent.
 
    And you felt the shackles fall off of your soul and your mind. It suddenly didn’t matter that you couldn’t fly. You were free.
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