The International Writers Magazine
: Action Life

My Elevated High
Kate Watson

I have wanted to do this for as long as I can remember; to feel the exhilaration and the thrill; to plummet earthwards with a sense of adventure. I am going to soar as bravely and as gracefully as a bird of prey above the clouds and feel a sense of freedom that can invigorate and inspire.

However, it is harder than I imagined to hold on to these thoughts when I am standing in a blue straightjacket-like ensemble, grinning inanely at the camera being thrust into my face and really wishing I had gone to the toilet just one last time. But this is it. I have completed the training, the cloud has cleared and now I have become acquainted, though perhaps not as thoroughly as I would have liked, with the person to whom I am to entrust my life. I am also more than slightly embarrassed at the thought of being attached in such a way to a man I have only just met, but that is the nature of a tandem skydive.

Soon we are making our way across the grassy runway, (is that safe?), to the small white plane with its propellers spinning as wildly as the butterflies in my stomach. Crammed in to the back, nestling red-faced between my instructor’s legs amongst the other pairs, we are climbing slowly above the clouds. My ears are blocked already; will they explode on the way down? More inane grinning for the camera. At the price I’m paying for it, I’m going to damn well make sure I look like I’m enjoying myself. I am trying to chat jovially to the others over the noise of the engines with out much success. This is exciting isn’t it? Are you nervous? Have you made sure your shoes are on tightly? What radius do you think our remains will cover if the parachute doesn’t open? That last one hasn’t gone down too well.
The side of the plane is being opened. Below us is just cloud, and a whole lot of nothing. I’m shuffling towards the edge, is it really my turn already? I’m on the edge, can’t look down. How am I going to do this? I’ve gone. Rushing air and falling is filling my being. I’ve forgotten how to breathe. What am I supposed to do again? Oh yes, I remember – scream! Oh no, not the cameraman again, I can’t scream and breathe and smile. But this time I can’t help but grin as his face is contorting into wind ravaged shapes. Does that mean I look like that? Did I leave my stomach on the plane? Is this ever going to stop?

We’ve slowed down, the parachute has opened. My bowels breathe a slight sigh of relief. But we’re still a long way up, and we seem a long way off from where we’re supposed to land. Is this supposed to happen? Are we meant to be spiralling erratically downwards? Is the ground coming up too quick? How do I land again? Am I going to break my legs?
Solid ground. I’m on my knees. I’m alive. I’m in one human shaped piece.
That was incredible. Can I do it again?
© Kate Watson October 2005

Kate is a Creative Arts student at the University of Portsmouth

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