“The sky sure is beautiful today, don’t you think?”
“How are you feeling?”
“You’re not bailing out on me now, are you?”
I sat back and crossed my arms, tapping my foot on the floor of the plane I was on. For some reason, Chad, my skydiving instructor, was being curt and closed off. It was tickling my nerves; this was my first time ever skydiving, and the instructor was unfriendly and frankly being a bit rude. Looking out the plane window, I let out a small huff and tried to calm my nerves. I’d decided to take on the challenge of marking off skydiving on my bucket list. My friend had given me a discount coupon to Great Heights skydiving range, and it expired this weekend. So I’d just mustered up the courage to approach jumping out of a plane and fall 12,000 feet. I’d convinced myself that I could do this, that it was no big deal, but my skydiving instructor was now messing with my attitude. Chad was stiffly sitting in his seat, cringing and gripping the sides of his seat every time the plane rattled a little. His face was pale and I could have sworn there was a slight sheen of sweat coating his face.
I sincerely hoped that he would get it together soon, because the jump spot was approaching us quickly. Our pilot gave us the signal to make final preparations, and I checked my gear to make sure all my equipment was in check. My emergency parachute was locked and ready, and my mind was set. Looking over my shoulder at Chad, I watched as he listlessly tapped his back and gear. He didn’t look so good.
“Are you sure you’re okay?” I asked, making my way to the plane’s drop door.
Chad grunted. I bit my lip; that wasn’t the greatest confirmation in the world, but I guess I’d have to take it. The pilot gave us the thumbs up and the door unlocked and flew open. There was a sudden explosion of wind for a moment and I braced myself. Chad hooked himself to me and we stood there for a second, silently measuring the distance from the plane to the ground with our eyes. Then we were out of the plane, falling with terrifying speed downwards. Behind my goggles, my eyes were frantically searching underneath me for any sense of sanity in the high air I was plummeting in. Chad’s arm made contact with mine for a moment before it pulled away. Slightly comforted by the fact that I wasn’t alone in this ferocious fall, I looked back at him to give him a smile. My smile froze on my face as I realized that I was alone in this. Chad had somehow lost consciousness and was now being beaten in the ravenous winds like a rag doll. I started to panic, struggling to shake Chad awake.
I had no idea what to do in order to wake someone from an unconscious state so high in the sky. I had no idea how to pull both our parachute cords nor did I really remember when I was supposed to pull the damn cords. Horrified, I twisted my arm behind my back to try and find Chad’s parachute cord. My arm strained against the winds and the angle I was twisting it in as my hand grabbed a hold of a handle. Relief rushed through my veins as I yanked as hard as I could on the cord. Terror gripped my heart in an ice cold grip as I realized that we weren’t slowing down. Chad’s cord had not ejected out of his pack. Screaming in frustration, I looked down at the ground and saw trees and fields and roads coming faster at us. I was hyperventilating now. My hands were shaking as I frantically raised my hands to try and use my parachute instead. Finding the cord, I pulled on it as hard as I could. At first, I thought it had failed as Chad’s had, but then there was a violent pull and Chad and I were jerked backwards in the air as my parachute unfurled and expanded out like an airborne anchor.
Breathing heavily, I slowly let myself relax as my feet dangled over treetops and approached the landing field. Chad groaned behind me and I laughed out of sheer disbelief. I’d done it. I’d skydived and saved both Chad and I from horrendous deaths. Sucking in a deep breath, I let it out as I vowed never to do that again.
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