fear
adult

Falling Up

by Julie Meier
Alberta, Canada
genre: General

It wasn’t the fall that terrified her most, it was the possibility that she wouldn’t. That Gravity, in her moment of need, would fail her.

When she began her self-administered therapy sessions, she started small: a jump from the moderately sized curb beside Joe’s Diner on Main Street. Assumably there would be plenty of witnesses present, potentially among them a good Samaritan who might grab her by the ankle and pull her back to safety if she was to experience spontaneous buoyancy.

Before disembarking from the curb, she closed her eyes, bare feet gripping the pitted concrete, and counted backwards from five. 

“Lizzie? What in tarnation are you doing?!” Joe, greasy apron wrapped around his ample gut, leaned out the door of the diner, waving a spatula haphazardly to punctate his words. “Are you trying to get yourself run over? Put on some shoes and get in here.”

She jumped off the curb (no rescue needed), proclaimed Step One a success and obediently complied, scooping up her trainers and padding inside.

“Coffee’s on the house,” Joe said as he slid a chipped mug towards her with a shake of his head and a single raised eyebrow.

She wrapped her hands around it, smiled and shrugged as steam engulfed her. 

“You know how that looks, right?” he said kindly. 

“I just can’t explain it, Joe. I have to keep trying.”

“I know,” Joe said as he deftly flipped a burger with one hand and poured himself a coffee with the other. “But people don’t understand you like I do.”

Step Two involved a ladder and a dog.

The ladder was borrowed from Joe’s under pretense of changing a lightbulb (though he likely knew better), and was firmly placed in the middle of her backyard between the decrepit swing set and the vegetable patch where dandelions and thistles abounded.

The dog belonged to her neighbor and had invited himself over for the show. Casper arranged his body unceremoniously beneath the mountain ash tree with a heavy sigh and proceeded to scratch his left ear.

Lizzie climbed the ladder. Two rungs up. Turned, and jumped.

The ground met her quickly and she snickered to herself. Lucky thing, as Casper appeared to be settling in for a nap and seemed disinterested in saving girls as they floated away.

“That the best you got?” she called upwards, squinting into the sun.

Four rungs up. Turn, jump.

A harder landing, same result. She whooped with delight. Casper snored.

“Are you serious?” she yelled, gleeful.

Lizzie stood atop the ladder, the one on which the label warned “This is NOT a step” and surveyed the yard unsteadily. Dandelions bobbed their heads in support and Casper paddled his legs, engaging in a dreamy frollic. The ladder wobbled, tipping Lizzie one way as it went the other.

Having had the air knocked out of her and one tooth loosened, Lizzie lay on the ground and gloated. When her breathing returned to normal, she laughed, the laughter becoming increasingly uncontrollable as tears streamed down her grass stained cheeks.  

“Maybe this is it,” she thought. “They were right all along. It’s all in my head.” 

Casper stood up, nap interrupted by the ruckus, whined and slinked through a hole in the fence.

Lizzie skipped over Steps Three (a scaffolding) and Four (skyscraper) in her plan, a sense of calm growing within her, and made the bold choice to head straight for Step Five.

Step Five involved an airplane. 

The wind whipped through her hair as Lizie stood at the open cargo door, the drone of the engine distorting whatever the pilot was attempting to tell her.

“What’s that?” she called back.

“I said,” he leaned closer and smiled reassuringly, “‘It’s easy as pie’. Count to ten. Pull the cord. Enjoy the ride. We’ll see you on the ground.” He winked, gave a thumbs up and went back to adjusting the controls.

Lizzie stepped out the cargo door.

They said she rose like an impatient hot air balloon, steadily picking up speed as if Gravity had lost its hold on her completely.

For Lizzie, there was nothing but peaceful acceptance as she gracefully departed the atmosphere.

 

 


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