© 1998 Kay Iscah / Revised version 2013
Author's Note: This was a project for a Governor's School class which was supposed to explore disjointed timelines. You've been warned...
I grabbed her arm to keep her from plummeting down the ten stories to the ground. Her body was almost thirty degrees past the ledge. It seemed like forty-five. I yanked her away from the edge and drug her towards the center of the roof. She dragged her feet in resistance, but she was a wimp. I was never more thankful that she was a skinny wimp. "Are you crazy?" I yelled. "You could've killed yourself!"
"I want to fly, Jack! I have to fly!" she screamed like a lunatic.
"It's gone, Carrie." I wanted to sound soothing, but it came off as annoyed. "Don't you understand?"
Carrie's wide, dark eyes searched my face for reassurance.
"You don't have to do this," I told her.
She shook her head. "I want to," she said.
"Why?" I teased.
"You wanted to do this together," she said and stressed "together".
"We don't have to get back injuries together," I countered. It was a mean thing to say, but suddenly, I did not want her to jump. What if her parachute failed to open? It would be my fault.
She scowled at me and looked a little more jittery, but now she had become stubborn.
"Get ready to jump!" the guide called. He swung open the door. My ears popped. Carrie adjusted her chin strap.
I took her hand and led her to the opening.
"Count ten, let go, and pull!" the guide shouted over the swoosh of the wind. I gave him a thumbs up.
I turned to Carrie and held up my fingers. 1...2...3...
After the bike incident, Carrie should have known better than to do anything I asked her, but she seemed to have a flippancy about life. Pain frightened her though. She understood pain.
She seemed surprised that I had slapped her. She could not possibly be as surprised as I was, but I shook it off. At least she had stopped screaming. She slumped to the ground, buried her eyes in her knees, and started rocking. I knew she was crying. I stuck my hands in my pockets and glanced about uncomfortably.
No one was around, but it felt like some one was staring. I understood what she felt, but the intensity of her emotions left me at a loss. I let her cry.
There is nothing more terrifying than a parachute that refuses to work, except perhaps two parachutes that refuse to work. As soon as I figured this out. I flailed for Carrie's hand. Her hand was busy yanking at the emergency cord. I caught her elbow. "I've got you," came out in a grunt. She grabbed onto my shoulder. One hand clinging in terror, while the rest of her stayed calm in free fall.
After a few more seconds, she realized my chute did not work either. Dark eyes blinked with rapid horror, at the ground, at me, at nothing.
I pulled close enough to speak into her ear. "I love you. Close your eyes."
She did, and her grip felt limp. Her lips moved. I did not hear. I closed my eyes. What we needed now was a foam mattress convention. I prayed. I wished. I hoped. I prayed.
The fall ended.
"You could sit on the handle bars," I suggested.
We both stared at her flat tires and the broken air pump.
She frowned. "Is that safe?"
"You worry too much," I told her.
"Well, you're too reckless," she quipped.
I shrugged helplessly, "The one time I try to be spontaneously romantic-"
She grinned and rolled her eyes.
"It's not fair," she said.
I looked up. By that time, I had tired of standing and was trying with little success to pull my legs into that blasted yoga position that was supposed to be so relaxing. "What isn't fair?"
"That they took it away," she sniffed.
"You mean the ambiguous They?" I asked. She smirked despite herself.
The fun thing about the fall ending is that it did so in midair. I opened my eyes when I noticed that the breeze was coming on only one side of my face. The ground was still below and everything else was the same endless blue. I wanted more distance between myself and the ground.
I realized the higher the height the worse the fall.
I lifted a finger to tap Carrie's shoulder. I whispered her name, and the sound carried with unbelievable clarity.
She opened her eyes, saw the ground, looked at me, looked at the ground again. "Are we dead?"
"I don't think so," I said.
She was silent for a long moment. "Okay..."
Carrie's not-so-graceful arc through the air left her in a heap on the ground.
"I'm sorry," I blubbered as I made my way to her. "Oh, man, I'm so sorry. Carrie, you all right? I didn't see the branch. Carrie?"
"I'm gonna kill you," she groaned, and I almost collapsed with relief.
"I've just never felt anything like that," she explained.
"Neither have I," I reminded her.
I tried to redirect her chain of thought. "Is better than never having had it."
"Is it?" she murmured.
"I followed you to college," I said. It seemed like the right time to confess things.
She simply smiled, but her smile said she was glad. Glad that I had and glad that I told her.
We had tired of hovering, so we had tried up and down and back and forth and right and left. After a series of grand loops and spirals, we rested or floated. She had decided letting go of each other could end badly, and I agreed.
The thin air and exhilaration of the moment made us giddy.
"A few bumps and bruises," the doctor said. "I'd suggest staying off the bike for a little while."
The second comment was directed at me, as though I did not feel guilty enough already.
Carrie played with the bandage on her elbow. "I should have waited until Jack got the pump," she said.
I wished she would not defend me.
"Of course it is!" I exclaimed. "How many people can say they flew? Really flew, Carrie?"
She shrugged. "No one would believe us."
"Who cares?" I said. "We know what happened."
The wind was ours to command. It was cool. It was warm. We grew tired. Slowly, carefully we descended, and finally we touched earth.
"They didn't put this in the brochure," Carrie giggled.
"Where are we anyway?" I wondered.
Neither of us knew. There was a tree and some hay. We were tired, and there we laid down for the night.
"I'm still not sure what happened," she said. "I simply want it back."
"Maybe it will come back on it's own," I suggested.
"Don't humor me," she warned.
"Well, it might."
Morning came, and we were grounded. We tried everything we could think of to get in the air again. We jumped and whooped and got down on the ground in the same position as a free fall.
A truck stopped. It's driver seemed somewhat worried about our sanity, but he offered us a ride anyway. We were lucky. He was heading our way or at least back to where we had started.
"Killing yourself over it won't help things," I said.
She twisted her hands together. "I know," she said. "I just can't stand the thought of not flying again."
I took her hand, kissed it.
"Don't worry," I said. "We'll fly."
End Notes: You can tell by the date this is one of my older writing samples. I revised it a bit in January of 2013.