A Story from Summer


What with being caught up in the hectic midst of school and college applications and decisions and more school, I felt like the retelling of an almost forgotten summer story was, with out a doubt, much needed. So, here goes.

As my sweaty palms slipped away from the rope and I began falling through the air, the only coherent thought running through my head was, Wait, am I dreaming? This couldn’t actually be happening? Right? I mean, right?? But the impact against the pine needled floor brought a bit more reality to the present situation. It had all started with a tree, a swing, a hill, five friends, and a love of exhilaration.

It was the summer after 8th grade and my sisters and I were staying in Pinecrest, a beautiful little lake in California, with some family friends. This is tradition, but this year was different. This year involved a rope swing, and a little more courage than we’d each had the year before. Every afternoon, with chores done, lemonade stand finished, and the sun too far down to continue swimming; Cal, Beth, Margie, Olivia, Erin, and I would traipse through the woods and up the hill to the infamous, newly built rope swing. You could, of course, merely sit on it and swing, but we found more entertainment in stretching it further up the hill, and then jumping onto it midair. This way we could reach exhilarating heights; and on such summer days, nothing beats the pulse of adrenaline beating through your veins.

Each day we grew braver and braver, jumping from higher spots on the hill, then swinging up to 20, maybe even 25 feet. This one evening, the parents were having cocktails at the cabin down the hill, and as soon as we arrived at the party, we proceeded up the hill. When it was my turn I brought the swing to my chest level, a height I had attempted and succeeded with before. Trying not to let any nerves get to me, I stepped, pulled, and jumped. But this time, instead of landing on the smooth plank of wood, I only met air. Not a cushion of air, but a thin, mean vastness that had no chance at protecting me. My leg had bumped the seat out of the way, and I was dangling by my hands. Did the swing care?  No, of course not. I continued swinging through air, with no time to come to terms with the situation.

My hands fatefully slipped and I began the descent. People say that it feels slower when you are falling, I can assure you that that is most definitely untrue. In a matter of seconds I collided with the ground, bounced, and crumpled. I knew my sisters would worry, so I managed a quick, “I’m okay!”  Then I began to cry. I wasn’t badly hurt, but I was most definitely shocked. Within a few moments, adults began running up the hill to help me, shouting, “Oh my god, are you okay?” Wishing their legs would move faster. They made sure I didn’t have a concussion or any horrible injuries. I took a couple minutes to rise, observing a large boulder merely a foot away from my head.  I shakily walked back to the cabin, bark in my braces, elbows and knees scraped up, and a few cuts on my face and neck.

I washed up and soon we were laughing about the incident. I didn’t fully recover for a few days though. Each night I had nightmares about falling, and falling, and falling. Talking about the swing made me feel nauseous. The accident had practically given me a phobia of falling. However, I’m fine now. My only battle wound is a “C” shaped scar above my knee and every time I glance at it, I trace over it with my finger, and think to myself I will conquer that swing…next summer.


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