ON WRITING

“It’s very easy to quit during the first ten years of writing. Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t write, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.” Andre Dubus

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Gone in 60 Seconds - #Fridayflash

Here is my entry for this #fridayflash. Previously posted in a blogfest.



Gone in 60 seconds


As I begin spiralling downward, I panic and forget everything I’ve been taught. Okay, 60 seconds of free falling has been sweet, but now the parachute is supposed to take up the slack, but guess what? Yep. Just my luck. The wanky thing gets itself stuck and here I go, free falling, free screaming, heading for the ground at a great rate of knots.

Tug! Tug! It’s stuck all right! I lose all hope of hearing that thunderous whoosh, seeing that gentle puff of parachute silk billowing above me. Nah, this time it’s just me, the sky and that old enemy, gravity.

I’m no longer floating - I’m dropping towards the ground like a lead ball, faster, faster. I force my eyes open again and try to reason with myself. I probably have another 60 seconds before impact. Think! Think!
I manouever my body back into the arch position which isn’t easy when my limbs are stiff with terror. In training I’ve been shown how you can actually direct your flight in free fall, so with a great deal of effort I pull my arms slightly back at the shoulders and straighten my legs as I’ve been taught.

My heart begins to thump again. The adrenalin is rushing through me. I know what to do and I do it. I move backward by extending my arms and bending my knees like I’m trying to touch the back of my head with my heels. From this position I can make a left or right turn by twisting my upper body slightly.

You might be wondering why I’m bothering but I’d been told in training for my solo jump that you can actually survive a free fall from up to 50,000 feet if you stay in control and hey, I’m only at 11,000 feet so I must be in with a chance, don’t you think? A survival float, they call it. Choose your drop zone. I know I’ll have a better chance of survival if I land on a nice soft spot. Or in deep water. Or even on a car or a rooftop. Anything but cement. God, not that…


My tactics seem to be working. I have slowed my speed and am heading towards the beach. Of course I can’t hear the waves crashing or the seagulls calling or the surfers cursing - all I can hear is the sound of wind screaming in my ears and my desperate prayers…‘help me, help me, oh God, oh Godddd...’ About 30 seconds to go.

 
You know how they say your life flashes before you as you drown, well, I’m drowning in wind and extreme velocity and my life is flashing before me like a flickering movie in fast forward. I see my children, their trusting baby faces. I see my daughter’s triumphant smile smeared with my bright red lipstick. I see my son’s joyous high five when he won his soccer game. I flash on their birthday parties and am sorry I probably won’t be there to share any more. Nor will they share mine. Today they’ll be waiting for me to come home from ‘Mummy’s air jump all by herself’ so they can yell ‘Surprise! Clever Mummy!’ I see my husband, his face white with shock when I tell him I intend to go solo for my thirtieth. ‘That’s far too dangerous!’ he’d yelled. ‘For God’s sake, you have children. You can’t keep jumping out of planes! You’ll be sorry!’

I’m sorry now. I wasn’t then. The one time I’d been determined to do something just for myself, look what happens! Any moment now. Yikes, here comes the ground, faster, faster.
I’m aware of the beach flashing by. It always lifts my spirits, gives me strength. I won’t make it. The waves, too far away, in and out, in and out, the rhythm of life. Ah, life. Relax! Relax! More chance if you relax! Bend your knees! Aim for that soft, billowy sand just ahead. Dip shoulder to the left, get ready for impact. Drop zone. Drop zone. Sand dune. Yes! Careening towards me - colours blending-whirling-blue-green-sandy-use balls of feet-point toes-swish-thwump-roll-bounce-cover head-arms close to ears-use elbows to protect-hold tight-grassy knoll coming-thump-thump-thump-that hurt-ooh-ah-blessed blackness…

 
‘Hey! Over here! Quick! She’s alive! Call Emergency!’


28 comments:

  1. I love this! It plays upon the fears we all have: heights, parachute not working, not being there to share birthday parties...

    Very real and very intense! I loved reading it.

    BTW, I won't be doing the blogfest, but I'll be reading entries!

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  2. wow you had my heart running, there!

    You've been parachuting yourself? It sounds so realistic, you must have! (although hopefully without the non-functioning parachute)

    *shivers*

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  3. Hi,

    Great Freefall experience!

    Puts across well the adrenalin surge and endorphin rush!!

    Great stuff.

    best
    F

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  4. I found myself holding my breath as I read this.

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  5. That was great!! I've never been brave enough to sky dive, but I feel like I just did - and now won't ever attempt in REAL life.

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  6. Aubrie, Tessa, Francine, Christine, Misty Waters, Charity: Glad you all liked it. Yeh, I scared myself too. My daughter's been sky diving and terrifies me so I guess that's been playing on my mind.

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  7. Very cool take on the blogfest. Vivid and intense. I really liked it alot. :)

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  8. sarahjaynesmythe: Thank you for dropping by and commenting...)

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  9. Oh, btw, I forgot to tell you that I'm over here following you, too. :)

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  10. Hello sarah jane. Lovely. Thanks for the follow...)

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  11. That was a really vivid piece of writing. Terrific!

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  12. While I think the beginning might be too descriptive (I found myself skimming it a bit), I love the end! Such a strong last paragraph. Flash fiction is really hard to do, so well done on this@

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  13. That was great and so intense! My dad and sister just went skydiving last weekend, so I'm glad I didn't read this before then. It felt very realistic. Nice work!

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  14. There are some really awesome lines in this piece. I love it!

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  15. Great stuff. Love the new look blog as well.

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  16. A very kinetic piece of writing! Plus, I admire the courage it takes to do something like this falling out of the sky business! :)

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  17. I loved that bit at the end with all the sensations and thoughts crammed in on top of each other. Great job.

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  18. Thank you everyone for your comments. So glad you liked it. Helen, thanks for commenting on my new look blog, groovy. Sorry for turning some of you off sky diving altogether...)

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  19. Not a fan of heights, so this definitely had the heart racing aspect down. I could never skydive, ever, way too scary but this maybe tempted me to want to, just a little. Great job this was a wonderful post, thanks for sharing.

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  20. Thanks Hayley. So I didn't scare you witless then...)

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  21. Oh my, heart pumping. What an adrenaline rush! Well done with the portrayal of a free fall. Having never gone sky diving, this really took me into the experience. And, I must say, I'm glad she lived :)

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  22. Very suspensful (is that a word? My brain has gone blank!). Thanks for sharing!

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  23. Carolina, glad you enjoyed your free fall experience. You're the first to comment on her survival - it is possible, you know...)

    Talli, yes suspensful is so a word and I'm glad you used it to describe my piece...)

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  24. TOO exciting! My heart was in my throat and, as she realized that death was surely upon her, how sad as she raced through the moments of her life.
    The action here is so well written, you just speed along for the ride.
    Wowsers!
    All this and a happy ending, too!

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  25. Thanks Cathy. Glad you liked it. It seemed to write itself...:)

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  26. Oh my! My heart was really pounding in the end. As a mother, I could feel all her fears for her family. Truly enthralling story - wonderful job Denise!

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  27. Marvelous writing, Denise! I feel like I'm sky diving...what a rush! & so much safer behind the computer monitor!

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