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Too Late Now

A leap of faith

By Mark GagnonPublished 7 months ago 4 min read

Okay, I’ll admit it. I enjoy being the center of attention, but this is plain nuts. If there was ever a time when I wished I could fly, this is it. It must be a hundred feet from the top of this cliff to the water below, and everyone is waiting for me to jump. Don’t they know I was just kidding when I said I’d do it? Guess not, because they’re all floating around in their kayaks cheering me on.

My need for attention started when I was very young. I come from a large family and have lots of siblings and cousins. The only way for me to stand out in the crowd is to always do something better, or more outlandish, than my peers. It’s a strategy I’ve been using since I turned three.

The first time my penchant for attention reared its head, all the adults were sitting in my parents’ living room discussing nothing of any importance but ignoring me. I pushed out a dining room chair and used it as a stepstool to access the table top. My aunt spotted me first and let out a scream, “Get down before you fall!” Now all the adults were paying attention to me. I walked to the edge of the table, let out a laugh, and jumped. The landing wasn’t too painful. Bottom line, I got what I was looking for… attention.

That one jump from the table cemented my place in the family as its one and only daredevil. As I grew older, more feats of derring-do followed. I rode my skateboard down the side of a very steep hill. Using a makeshift ramp, I jumped my bike over a neighbor’s fence, and even leaped from a second-story window into a pile of leaves, breaking my leg.

My reputation as a daredevil continued to grow as I progressed through school. One of my classmates would come up with a crazy idea and it was up to me to see if it was doable. Although the stunts were stupid, they got me the attention I sought. Sure, the football quarterback might be more popular with the girls, but everyone knew my name. When I went to a party, they all wondered, what will he try this time?

So now you know my background and have some understanding of why I’m considering jumping to my potential doom. It’s not for the glory, it’s all about the attention I’ll receive if I survive. People will talk about this jump for months to come. After this, I will never need to be the daredevil again, but I probably will. Attention is addictive.

I don’t have to do this. I can tell everyone this is a joke and step back from the edge. Sure, I’ll have to put up with some good-natured ribbing, but my body will be in one piece and I won’t have to worry about drowning. That’s the sensible thing to do, but I’ve never been sensible, so why start now? It’s time!

I stand on the precipice looking at the water below. The cheering stops as everyone in their boats holds a collective breath. A sea bird circles above as if beckoning me to come join him in flight. I envision the dive one more time before leaping into the sky. If I misjudge the angle of entry, the water will have the same characteristics as concrete. Even if the dive is perfect, it’s going to hurt.

Muscles tense, I spring off the cliff, arms outstretched, imitating bird’s wings. For a moment, I feel like I’m flying. Then gravity takes charge. I arch my back, forcing my body into a slow reverse somersault. My stomach ties itself into one big knot as the wind rushes past my ears, all the while plummeting toward my doom. Rotation complete, I point my toes and stiffen my spine, imitating a knife blade as I pierce the surface of the water. The sensation of liquid being forced up my nose and into my ears causes a moment of panic that subsides as my body slowly rises to the surface. I’m alive!

This has to be my last stunt. No more daredevil antics for me, but the attention really is spectacular.


About the Creator

Mark Gagnon

I have spent most of my life traveling around the US and the globe. Now it's time to draw on these experiences and create what I hope are interesting fictional stories. Only you, the reader, can tell me if I've achieved my goal.

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Comments (1)

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  • Tina D'Angelo2 months ago

    Thank you for sharing this. It reminded me of a story I've been telling my kids for years and I finally wrote it down.

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