Featured Review on this writing by Sue Harris

Fine Day to Fly

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: April 22, 2018

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Submitted: April 22, 2018

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Picture me on a cliff.


Smooth slab-rock spans around me like a slick pancake with wide alabaster fingers extending to a sloped edge — a three-thousand-foot drop I search, my legs see-sawing to and fro. Those slow waves below, bluer than a robin’s egg, gleam beneath the cloudless skies where one falcon screeches banshee cries. Carnivorous cries. Fierce cries, resonating within me, almost sink me to my knees. Almost make me shout to the evergreens swaying atop the bowl-shaped canyon when a gentle breeze swirls my auburn hair into long curls and carries the sweet smells of forget-me-nots across the Coloradan mountains, snow-speckled and aglow under the sun; a painted tapestry of vivid hues. Exactly the way I envisioned my death day. Right down to that yellow butterfly flittering above my nose.


“Do it, Sam.” It whispers in my ears. “They all despise you anyway.”


Bullies. The type who call me fat. Dumb. Ugly. They curse in my face then hi-five their besties as they saunter down the halls, past teachers who stand complacent and clueless of my inner struggle. Of the sharp shafts of pain that stab me each time a cyber-threat or a Snapchat-slander pops up on my phone. Of the nights I sob myself to sleep hoping I won’t wake. Of the weekends I hide in my room while my parents scream about my speech impediment, my caloric intake, my learning impairments or anything else they deem wrong with me.


Listen. They’re bickering as usual on the trail behind me.


“Learn to pack a map.” Dad hollers. I hear him slapping an object. Mom’s phone likely. He’s been using its GPS the entire hike. Its battery probably ran out or something. His voice grows louder. “Way to go Einstein. Messing up our family vacation.”


“Stop being a jerk,” Mom snaps.


I peek over my shoulder. Through a thicket of trees, I spy dad hurrying after Mom and ascending that last twisted switchback.


He smacks her phone on the ground.” No wonder Sam’s so stupid. She takes after you.”


His scathing insult blisters down my spine like a vat of boiling oil, scalding worse since mom, the classic enabler, allows him to yet again berate me. Crush my heart. Make me feel unwanted. Unlovable. Unfair given the inescapable bullying tops my heap of agony with another horrible layer of bad. Motivation to erase my emotional traumas replaying quicker than a nasty iTune the nearer I creep. Forty more steps. Maybe fifty and I’ll plunge toward those boulders, stacked in the water, capable of easing my torment by ending this hideous thing called life.


I swing my arms up. Jumping, my boots catch on a crack. I slide forward, my legs twisting under me. Breath caught in my throat, I flip sideways.


“Sam!” Mom’s footsteps thud toward me as I uncontrollably roll down that slope. “Oh my God.”


I shriek. Grabbing empty fistfuls of cool air, I dig my heels into jagged granite, skidding on a patch of gravel, scraping my elbows and skinning my back. The slope declines further. I roll faster, the edge coming closer and closer. It frightens me. My inability to stop. My blood hammering in my brain. My lungs deflating. My fingers hook on one of those rock-climbing bolts wedged at the end of the rock face. I cling to it. Adrenaline funneling through me, I wildly flail like my cousin’s Tickle-Me-Elmo doll, my body shaking and dangling off the cliff.


Let go! It’s what I’ve waited for. Planned for. Easy. Free my fingers and free myself. Soar on the breeze same as that falcon. Same as those specks of dust shimmering in the sky where a few clouds drift. The sun, blazing through them, dampens my brow while I gasp in humid gulps of air. While that butterfly drunkenly circles my head and Dad’s and Mom’s screams mute in my ears. They’re widened mouths, moving in slow motion, seem to swallow me whole the way my science teacher once described how a snake eats its prey. In one bone-squeezing bite, it's like I’m transported to this barren path between life and death and I’m completely uncertain which one to take umtil I glance up at Dad’s creased brow.


He stretches his hand as far is it will reach. Not far enough.


“Daddy! Help!” I plead with that butterfly to reverse my past. To fly me safely into my father’s arms.


“Hold on baby.” Dad snatches a rope from his pack and throws it, his steady gaze on me.


The first time he truly pays attention. Truly sees me as a real person, a daughter he wants. A moment I cleave to as tightly as I do that rope I climb. Sweat on my tear stained cheeks. Sun glaring in my eyes. That falcon still screeching above, cries fading into the breeze once dad lifts me to the top; my heart a thousand fragments less crushed than when I arrived.

 


© Copyright 2018 Joy Shaw. All rights reserved.

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