Your first instinct upon reaching the ledge of the plane door is “this isn’t so bad”. However, once you’re given a gentle shove and you’re in full free fall, your body reacts a little differently. Apart from the fact that you can’t breathe very well, physically, you’re ok, a bit cold owing to the rush of air coming at you, (along with the ground) but in all, you’re still ok. Your tummy lurches up and you can feel your internal organs jumbling about inside you as if they’re trying make their way out. This too, is not entirely unpleasant. What does make you question your own sanity is the knowledge that you’ve just jumped out of a perfectly good air plane.
You look around and if you’re sensible, you have an experienced instructor strapped to you. You wonder if things go wrong, will they save you or are you both flat? There is also that horrible moment when you think you might be a bad person for wondering if at the critical moment, whether or not they can break your fall if you land on them should the shoot fail.
All this passes through your head in a matter of seconds. You then start to think of things to distract yourself. Did I feed the cat? Have I left you insurance documents where my friends and family will find them? You’re in the cloud now and can’t see much, until you look over and you see the camera man falling close beside you. It has been about 15 seconds by now. Vanity and pride take over and you’re waving, making cheezy thumbs up signs with your hands and thinking of what radically cool thing you can do on camera without injuring yourself to impress your Facebook friends and your Mom on the final video. This is over by around 30 seconds, the instructor has opened the shoot and with a sudden jerk, you’re yanked backwards and suddenly, you’re gliding.
The cameraman, still falling, disappears below you in seconds, becoming a little blip you hope you’ll see back on the ground safe and sound. You paid £189 for the footage.
It’s quiet. The instructor asks if you’d like to do turns in the air. “Sure.” you say, not wishing to seem like a wimp and omitting the fact that you’ve done this slightly hungover. The landscape rises and falls and you twist and turn in the breeze, all of creation before you. Ten turns later, you’re dizzy. “Ok, we’re done now.” Two minutes to go.
The instructor obeys and you settle into a smooth gliding fall towards the earth. You can see the airfield and he points out the other parachuters landing, slow and easy onto the field below, the sky filled with blue, red, orange, green, purple canopies. This is great, you think. Can we do that again? It hits you. You mean it. Can I jump out of a perfectly good plane again!?
You might be crazy after all, but it beats X-factor on the TV.
Writing Prompt: Describe an experience where you’ve started with one feeling and ended with another. Have fun.