The Same Fears
 “Well… don’t you think it’s about time ittin’it?” Daniel had gone all his life without having jumped off a cliff into a body of water. There had been many times living alongside other young and adventurous souls, standing there toes hanging off the edge of some high up rocky cliff lost in the mountainous back-country looking down at the water, thinking, only if I could just find the strength. No, the weakness, in his body to just let everything go and simply stop fighting against gravity and live a life how he well saw it and to just fall into the depths of the refreshing waters that is there waiting to break the fall. But thoughts of the pain brought on by impact of skin meeting water, slicing uncontrollably unable to see through the white water disturbance surrounding his body until finally hitting the river bed. If I jump… those rocks, they are too close! The water is too shallow, I could break my legs! I don’t have health insurance, my life would be ruined paying off the debt of one stupid decision to have fun. This thrill isn’t worth my goddamn life! Excuses clouded his mind standing tall on pride rock of that sweltering hot summer day. Others have jumped before him repeatedly for the thrill of it. He knows there is no real danger other than the fears created by one too many scary films he had seen as a child. Hit series that repeatedly aired on television climbing the rating charts as America tunes to the reality of a show with a name along the lines of “Caught on Camera.” Horror stories passed on by friends of people breaking bones. Oh yes, that is right. David, an old friend from the neighborhood in which he grew up made a jump of a cliff into a river down in the San Gabriels, only to die from the excitement. His heart couldn't take the thrill. Daniel takes a step back from the edge. 

Oh you coward, you came all this way for the third time this month with the intention of jumping off this cliff and now you are just sitting there baking in the sun perched on a rocky cliff like a lizard. This isn’t the excitement you came here for, if you wanted to sit and think you could of stayed home on the couch in front of a television like a city boy. Look at Michelle down there swimming in the crystal clear water persuading you to take that leap of faith towards her. She glances up at Daniel calmly floating on her back as though she were making snow angels of the now melted mountain snow runoff. She is waiting for you down there, everyone is watching. This is their third time this summer that the adventurous group had ventured to their place alongside the river equipped with a private beach, lazy pools and yes cliffs to jump off into the mellow river that carves it’s way between the tree filled mountains of central Oregon. The river flowed with an ease that massaged away all their thoughts and worries of the city. This was their secluded clear watered beach in Maui. Here they didn’t need anything else but each other and their appreciation for the friendship they had built to stand guard of each others solitude, but this is now the third time and not once has Daniel found the courage to make the leap into the water. He knew this could very well be the last visit before summer was over. After this there was not going to be another opportunity to make the leap. Another winter will have him wait, another winter for him to wallow in his own solitude dancing with the thought of “what if I had only made that leap?” His thoughts will be stuck in the past for another year rather than thinking of what other test of faith might challenge him next summer. So he sat there on top of the cliff ready to jump. Thoughts slowly inching him towards the edge. Friends watching from the rocky beach below encouraging him to just do it, but his feet wont move. The height of the cliff had begun to grow on him and infect his body. His feet became of stone.

He looks down and stares into the river from his jagged slippery peak 50 feet above the surface over the water. The calm crystal clear water was distorting his reality, giving him the perception that he is higher than what he actually knew to be true. The surface of the river is not visiable, but it’s there somewhere. Twenty… maybe even thirty feet deep. Fishes big and small crowd his landing area. He could see the distorted bottom of the river bed, down into the cavernous groves of rock cut out by hundreds of years of rushing white water roaring through the canyon during the rainy season. Sitting there beneath the sun surrounded by the forest he felt his heart begin to pound with the force of a rocket engine blasting off into space. His heartbeat and blood roaring through his body was all he could hear, he felt weightless as though he was floating in space staring down into the expanse of the underexposed universe body of water, stuck within the confines of his own reality. The colorful algae covered rock formations deep down underneath the water's surface became galaxies, fishes darting from hiding spots within the rocks became shooting stars. He had now ventured far beyond any frontier he had ever explored. 

“Daniel, you are holding us up here! It’s hot up here, I’m burning up!” Thomas says sitting behind Daniel just a few feet below him on the narrow ledge of the cliff. Ray is standing there as well too waiting for something to happen. “All three of us should jump in at the same time” Thomas, a bit of an extremest thrill seeker had just hours before, without a moment of hesitation, did a back flip off a cliff double the height of this current one. Daniel snaps out of it. “Think of the splash we would make! We are definitely doing this,” Ray responds “but we have to do it at the same time and be sure to land at the same time being as close as possible but not too close to kick each other. That shit will hurt! Daniel you are doing this with us I don’t care what you say. We will show everyone down there how big of a splash we can make!” Daniel at this point knows this is going to happen and there is nothing he can do to stop it. Perhaps he knew all along that this was something that was going to happen the second they arrived, it was only a matter of how. With the sun sitting high above their heads warming their bodies with courage, he stands up and places his toes on the edge of the cliff once again just as he has many times in the past. “Great, so we do this at the same time, let us shake on it… a gentlemen’s shake.” Ray reaches out his hand towards Daniel. Not thinking too much about the jump anymore but more about how he is not alone, Daniel reaches in for the signing of the deal. Hands clasp as they shake on it, but Ray doesn’t let Daniel’s hand go. “Great, we are doing this together!” Almost simultaneously Ray reaches back to his left and grabs Thomas. “No time to think now gentlemen” giving them both a great big tug towards the edge. The three warm bodies could feel the rush as they fell toward the water like shooting stars, disintegrating into single burning bodies before entering the plain of the calming water, who had been waiting there all along to break their fall. 

 

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Short Stories project in the Works

This past summer I did a quick test of an idea I wanted to get out of my head. It's simple: take a group of people on an adventure, spend time together and at some point... read the written works of friends who are talented writers. Secluded in nature with no other distractions the idea is to take in the full effect of human interaction and the written word. Planning for next summer's adventures are in the works. Contact me if you would like to partake. I would like to do a series of episodes to share with the world, but I am a photographer. If you make films and are interested in collaborating drop me a line. All are welcomed!

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