This piece is another short vignette from a writing exercise. I hope you like it.
Nauseated, I stood on the edge of the bridge. I knew they were watching me. My big moment. My one shot at redemption. My Pièce de résistance.
All summer, they taunted me. I was the biggest guy in our group. I could run faster, throw farther, punch harder, and talk nastier than any of them. I was the proverbial leader of the pack. I was the unnamed king. But, this summer, they had finally discovered my one great weakness. I am terribly, horribly afraid of heights.
We had spent half our summer at the river. Swimming and playing. Hitting on girls. It always came around to the bridge, though. No matter how many times I told myself on the way to the river that “today, I’ll jump”, I never found the nerve. Instead, I endured my friends’ sometimes friendly and sometimes cruel jokes. I was a “lightweight”. A “poser”. A “pussy”. No matter how badly I wanted to reclaim my fearless image, I just couldn’t make myself climb over the rusty, metal railing and follow my friends into the water.
I stood on the edge of the bridge. My heart pounding and my stomach churning. It had taken every ounce of courage I could muster to climb over the railing and stand, my back pressed against the metal barrier that my hands gripped in barely concealed desperation. My friends had teased me at first, but, after I had climbed over the side, they shut up. Some of them looked concerned, but most of them seemed merely entertained.
“Go ahead and do it, then.” One of them called to me.
I took one deep breath, and let go of the railing. I pushed off with my legs, and felt myself plummeting through the air. In the one brief second it took to propel myself over the edge, all fear left me. I felt, instead, a sense of unrestrained freedom. The rushing air blew my hair back as I saw the green, slow moving water coming into view. I closed my eyes and plunged feet first into the cold water. Down, down, deeper than I had ever been before, I felt my body slow in the water, and bubbles rushing by my face. I began to kick my legs and my arms cut through the water around me, and the sunlight became brighter as I broke through the surface and gulped the warm air into my lungs.
This moment was nothing I had feared and everything I could ever hope to feel.
I conquered my fear, and won back my subjects.
I reclaimed my throne.
©2015 Rachel Holbrook