Before I even commit
To stepping on board,
The vibration of the engine sends a shock of
Goosebumps through me.
My timid body quivers
From the first physical contact.
Sweat drips from my armpits
As I soar higher and higher
Out of my comfort zone.
My stomach drops
As the intensity builds.
I reach the peak of the ascension
And the bunker opens.
Then I sit on the edge and
Gather every ounce of courage I have and
Take the leap.
I dive into the unknown and my horizon spins round and round. I can’t tell which way is up, all I know is that I am moving faster and falling harder than I ever have before. My ears pound as the unfamiliar atmosphere rushes all at once. I am deaf and blind to anything but the strong feelings that come with being in this moment of free fall. I have never felt this alive. The wind exaggerates my gaping smile and nearly pulls the skin from my bones. I have given myself over to this powerful force. I am completely vulnerable and then my parachute jerks my body back
My chest burns from being force-fed
I feel my shoulders begin to bruise
From the straps of my lifesaver.
No one warned me this would
Hurt so much.
I am suspended between
Space and Earth
With no clear direction but down.
The ground starts to gain detail
As it inches its way towards me.
I look up at the clouds.
A minute ago, I was right in the middle
I had breathed it all in.
Then the next thing I know,
I have to brace myself for the landing.
My wrists sprain from trying to soften the blow, but
Nothing can slow it down.
The grinding halt gives me
Rug-burn from my calves to my shoulders.
It feels like someone poured acid all over my back.
“Stand up and try to walk it off,”
My experienced, tandem partner tells me.
The reminder of this experience stings like a hornet for months.