By David Allen

“It was the thrill of a lifetime
A once in a lifetime experience.”

That was the lede of the story
I wrote about the local sky diving club.
The back story was the advice an editor gave
When I pitched the story to him.
“Sounds great,” he said
“Especially if you jump.”
Sure, I thought. Why not?

All during my interview of the instructor
At the local airport I kept thinking to myself,
“I can always back out.”
So, I learned how to strap the parachute on
And practiced jumping off a four-foot stage
Rolling on my side as I hit the ground.

“I can always stay on the plane,” I thought
As we took off with another student.
“I can just sit here,” I reasoned to myself
When the jumper froze after stepping out,
His left foot on a locked wheel,
The other hanging over open space,
His hands tightly clutching the wing strut.
After a few swats on his backside by the instructor,
He pushed himself away, thinking, perhaps,
That falling to the ground was less embarrassing
Than chickening out at the last minute.

Then it was my turn.
The way I always face a challenge
Is to stop overthinking about the danger;
Just do it, get it over with.
I didn’t hesitate to push away from the plane;
I didn’t panic as I started to tumble over
And almost caught my feet in the parachute lines,
A mistake that could cause the chute not to open fully.
I managed to right myself and enjoyed that fall,
Pleased at the view of the Virginia countryside
Climbing towards me.

I landed on the airport tarmac,
Rolling as I had been taught,
And gathered up the parachute.
I walked toward my photographer,
A huge grin stretched across my face.
“Well, that was fun,” I told him.
“You going to join the club?” he asked.
“Hell ,no,” I answered,
“I’d have to pack my own chute
And I’m not that dexterous.”


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