Left Behind

5 Sep

cliff jump

 “Sometimes the fear of getting left behind is greater than the fear of getting wet.”  -Otto Kilcher

 

As Jim looked over the cliff he kicked a stone over. He counted almost three seconds before he heard the splash below. His stomach was turning over with fear. No matter how hard he tried, he could not hide the fact that he was extremely nervous about the jump.

“You´re not thinking of chickening out, are you?” Mike said.

“No” Jim answered looking not at Mike but out into the horizon and beyond to infinity.

When Jim looked down to the water below he felt a sickening dizziness. He was not sure how he was going to make this jump. He was terrified of heights, not a good swimmer and not very adventurous. In fact, he thought the notion of testing one’s self a bunch of nonsense. His philosophy in life was to be as comfortable as possible until you die.

His mother would not let him play sports as a youth for fear he would hurt himself. In junior high school he never asked a girl out for fear she would say no. In college he took accounting because he knew it was an exact science and he would easily land a job upon graduation. His life was, work, television and sleep. This vigorous schedule was interrupted when a coworker asked him if he was like to go on a picnic with some others from the office. Little did he know, to get to the picnic spot, there would be a fifty foot cliff dive followed by a quarter mile swim to a deserted island.

When the first picnic goer made the plunge, a petite secretary not much more than 20 years old, Jim almost fainted. It´s on. No turning back now.

The second person to make the jump was an ex special forces officer now turned middle manager. This comforted Jim a little more. He´s a real man, he thought. Of course he should be able to do this.

When the third, fourth and fifth jumpers were all woman, Jim knew he had jump. A few more people later, the last person jumped and Jim was the only one left on the cliff. He could see the petite secretary, the first to jump, was almost at the shore of the destination island.

All of a sudden a new dread washed over Jim. He was alone. For the first time in his life he felt the solitude that his fearful life has brought. A tear rolled down his eye. He felt grateful that Mike invited him. For the first time, he felt he wanted to belong. The water all of a sudden appeared closer, the swim, not so daunting. What waited for him on the white, soft sandy shore was a chance at friendship. A chance at belonging.

Jim closed his eyes. He cleared his mind of all thoughts. Then, with a force behind him that was not quite his own, he stepped over. He wanted to scream but nothing came out. Then his feet smacked the water, stinging them something awful, but the pain was not unbearable. In fact, it was liberating. Jim left out a “Whoo-hoo” and a fist pump over his head under the water. As he bobbed up he got his bearings and set off, doggy paddle style, to the island.

 

 

 

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6 Responses to “Left Behind”

  1. ianstarttoday September 5, 2014 at 2:55 pm #

    I really liked this. I think you could probably lose the last line and end it with the 2nd to last line. Only an observation. Good story.

    • Ryan September 5, 2014 at 4:18 pm #

      Thank you for that observation! The story was born from that quote so I kind of felt I had to work it in. I actually changed it because I agree with you. Thanks for reading and thanks for taking the time to comment. Cheers!

      • ianstarttoday September 6, 2014 at 8:38 pm #

        np. yeah, I think it goes back to the old “show, don’t tell” rule. I do the same thing, though — start with a quote that gets across in plain language nearly the point of the thing I’m writing. Sometimes it takes another person who hasn’t read the thing back 20 times to finally suggest that I excise it.

      • Ryan September 6, 2014 at 11:45 pm #

        I took your advice. 😉 This is the third time a fellow word presser gave incredibly useful advice, that I took. I ended up putting the quote at the front and gave credit to the author, then kicked into the story. Thanks again.

  2. Eric Tonningsen September 5, 2014 at 7:15 pm #

    Thrown off, again. Was anticipating a nasty twist and it didn’t materialize. Much to my pleasure.

    Well shared, Ryan!

    • Ryan September 5, 2014 at 8:51 pm #

      Thank you! I’m glad you liked it. I didn’t feel a twist in this one.

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