Eight Seconds

The incessant engine humming, no – more of a roaring moan, will probably echo in my head for hours after I land.  That guy looks as nervous as I feel.  “We can do this, Joe!”  Yeah, that smile looks totally forced, but thumbs up buddy.

I can’t imagine this would be very comfortable without these packs on our backs.  Makes a good spot for resting my head while we wait to reach altitude over the jump zone.  Oh, wow.  Stomach isn’t having that right now.  Better sit up and think happy thoughts.  This helmet feels tighter all of a sudden.  Let’s do an equipment check again to get my mind right.  Yep … check, check.  This harness itches right here.  Heck, I’d wear a suit of armor if they guaranteed me nothing bad would happen.

Oh, Lord.  They’re moving around up there.  Okay.  Okay.  It’s happening.  Stand up.  Shuffle forward.  Here we go.  Please, God, I know the doc said six to eight months.  But I really think I want all of it I can get.  Let me make this jump okay, please?

“What? … Oh, yes.  Yes, have it right here.  Okay.  Yes, I count the seconds and then pull this.  Right.  This one for back up.  Got it.  Yep.  … Where? … Oh God … yep … okay.”

That wind is not at strong as it was last time.  I could practically fall out here.  My finger tips are probably going to be bruised as tight as I’m gripping this door.  Not looking down yet.  Not looking down.  I wish he’d just push me out.  Oh man, he’s saying it.  Here I go.

“YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!  AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!”  Be a starfish and count you dumbass!  Shit.  I’m falling.  This is great!  I’m probably at ten seconds.  Okay.  11-one thousand … 12-one thousand … 13-one thousand … 14-one thousand … I can’t wait to tell everyone I’ve been doing this.  17-one thousand … 18-one thousand … 19-one thousand … I wonder how many people are out of the plane so far.   24-one thousand … 25-one thousand … feels so freeing, not like the first few jumps.  28-one thousand … 29-one thousand … 30-one thousand … all I could think about was whether my chute would open, how tight the harness felt, and how much my eyes were watering (even with the goggles on).  All that in just three seconds.

Wow … 35-one thousand …36-one thousand … it’s like google earth in person.  Zooming in people!  Zooming in!  40-one thousand … 41-one thousand … screw cancer … 42-one thousand … 43-one thousand … I’ll buy Katherine a huge diamond ring before I tell her so she doesn’t argue about saving the money for the medical bills … 46-one thousand … 47-one thousand … I’ll write that book I’ve been messing around about for all these years, and … 50-one thousand … I’ll tell my brother I’m sorry … 52-one thousand … and as it turns out she’ll be available again in 6 – 8 months, dude … 54-one thousand … ouch, that chuckle hurt with all this air flow slapping into me under this pack.  57-one thousand … almost … 58-one thousand … reaching …59-one thousand … here goes, brace for whiplash.

No.  What is this?  Some kind of test?  No, no, no!  Steps!  Follow the steps!  There’s time.  There’s time.  Look – you’re still above 1000.  Do the steps.  What the … I don’t think it’s supposed to look like that.  The line is too messed up.  Stop panicking; I can’t believe this is happening.  Not fixable … right … okay.  Next.

Reach to the right – there it is.  Got it.  Now find the left – got it.  Arching back, pulling … damn this thing is hard … pull that thing.  Okay there it went.  Main chute cut.  There it goes.  Damn.  Pull left!  Pull!  C’mon dammit.  This is NOT happening!  God please!  Is anyone coming to help me.  Do they see me?  Wait – where is everyone?  Flatten … stretch … fall slower.  What was I thinking?  What was this supposed to do for me when I had this idea?  Confidence.  I was supposed to get some strength to face the cancer.

SkydiveroverEslovSweden

By Degrer (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons


I’m gonna’ die.  No one can help me.  The reserve won’t open.  I’m almost at 1000 feet.  What was it they said then?  About 7 or 8 seconds.  Far cry from 6 – 8 months.  Maybe I should have told Katherine.  Will Doc Peters tell her now?  Oh no – will the insurance cover this?  Glad we have the supplemental and the savings.  She can always sell the other house too.   God, thanks for giving me Katherine before this.

Dave will figure it out.  Maybe he’ll read my papers and get the apology he’s been needing.  Katherine’s strong, she and the kids will be okay.  Oh, please Lord, don’t let this hurt.   Let it be quick when I hit.  Maybe even finish me before I hit?  Please don’t let it hurt.

Maybe that’s the best thing.  No weeks or months wasting away in front of everyone.  No long term pain deadened by the drugs.  Guess I’ll never know what smoking pot feels like now.  Focus – 1000 feet.  Close your eyes.

The smell of grandma’s house.  Mom’s lasagna.  The look Jesse gave me, smiling eyes and tongue hanging out with joy, whenever I’d play ball with her.  The waves crashing in rhythm on the beach.  Sun shining.  Our first kiss.  She knows me.  Katherine holding Jamal.  Lunch together in the tree-house, spying on Ayesha and Tim next door until they spotted us.  All of us giggling so hard it made tree-house shake.  Katherine’s face when I pulled up on Tom’s motorcycle.  Jamal scraping his knee the first time, I was his hero.  I love you guys.  That time whe


 

I needed to post content hurriedly this morning and didn’t have time to edit this.  I will touch up any grammar/spelling issues in the coming days.  This started as a response to a writing exercise called “Epiphany” in Brian Kiteley’s The 3 A.M. Epiphany.  I cheated a little and then went rogue.  I also got the idea for the ending from John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars where the main character talks about how her favorite book ends.  I recommend both books.

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A Writer’s Bubble

Shiny new apple

By Janine from Mililani, Hawaii, United States (shiny new apple Uploaded by Fæ) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

A vinyl kitchen chair, circa 1972, peers across the cluttered table.  Uneven piles of books and skewed papers cascade toward the edge of the tabletop.  A laptop is anchored on a place mat opposite the spying chair, it’s screen open and blazing word shadows on the writer’s glasses.  A once rolled newspaper sits atop a down-facing open book, which straddles an off-kilter stack of other books – all of it off-center on a mismatched chair.

The bulletin board by the light switch dangles its captives: a book of stamps, several bills, business hours for the local library and a restaurant 20 miles away, and a visitor’s pass.  A phone sits below, on the floor – inches from the wall jack as the snaking cord attests. Its red battery charge light glares defiantly, as if daring any corner table that might one day arrive on a white horse.  In the corner, three rolls of Christmas wrapping paper are leaning like a tent over a forgotten roll of scotch tape.

The tick-tick-ticking of the gas heater, shutting off as it meets the thermostat’s goal, keeps time with the car engines tutting by outside.  The headspace crunching of crackers being chewed interrupts the otherwise pseudo-silence in the room.

She types all this sporadically, pausing only to slurp coffee or scratch, her left knee bouncing from time to time.  The other three quarters of the room are behind her, but she doesn’t turn around.  She doesn’t look or study what is not in her fan of head swivel.  She types; she reaches for her cell phone and checks the time; she types.

Her eyes fall from the screen to her hands and she continues pushing the words to the screen.  She notices the muscle memory of her fingers and thumbs and how they work in unison, almost separately from the rest of her body.  She doesn’t hold a favorable opinion of these pudgy extensions of her arms in the day to day.  But she notices their shape when positioned like this – doing this.  The right corner of her mouth lifts.  Her hands are sexy when she writes.


 

This piece was inspired by a writing exercise called “No Ideas, But in Things” in Brian Kiteley’s book The 3 A.M. Epiphany.  I highly recommend it to those of you who have a day job that rattles around in your head when you’re finally home and trying to write.