Pushed to Jump

You stand in the crotch of the tree and look out at the limb you are supposed to jump to... and it looks so far away. You know you can't just get down and call it quits; not after you had to plead with the other kids to let you come along. That's what you want to do though.

It can't be that hard. Just jump, catch on to the limb, swing, let go, and land on top of the little cliff on the other side of the creek. Alan had made it, or else we wouldn't be doing it. That's what "creek jumping " was. ( Those guys like to call it "creek jumping" but it was really just follow the leader.) If the leader missed a jump or stunt, because it wasn't just jumping, then the person who was going second moved up and decided what would be done next and the leader who missed a jump had to go to the back of the line. Alan had been leader all morning and hadn't missed a single jump. There were some long jumps that a couple of kids missed and fell into the creek. Danny Jones twisted his ankle and had to quit. Bobby Jones was worried at first, but once he saw Danny's leg wasn't broke, he was glad to see him go. Little brothers can be such a pain.

You stand in the crotch of the tree and look out at the limb you are supposed to jump to... and it looks so far away. What's the worst that could happen? You could slip off the limb at the height of your swing, go flying through the air up-side-down, crash into the face of the cliff, and then slide down its muddy face into the creek below, like Greg Kirby had done. Or not go far enough and crash into the cliff face first. Or miss the limb altogether and sail off into the creek like Wonder Woman. Either way, you still ended up in the creek; the nasty, slimy creek. Several kids had demonstrated the later two methods, only Greg had a really spectacular splash down that kind of scared you to watch. Still, three kids had made it, Alan, and John and Paul Carr. Oh my God! Only Alan Smith, John Carr, and Paul Carr, the three biggest jocks and three of the coolest kids in the whole school had made the jump so far.

You stand in the crotch of the tree and look out at the limb that you are supposed to jump to... and it looks so far away. You know you have to do something soon. No one has said anything, but the other kids are starting to shuffle their feet and give you funny looks. You think that if your right leg would only stop trembling, then you would go. You grit your teeth and force yourself to keep your eyes open. You grunt and push hard with trembling legs. To your surprise, your hands slap down on that limb, that looked so far away, in an instant. You have a good grip on the limb, so you kick down and swing as hard as you can. Timing, it's all in the timing. You let go just before you reach the height of your swing and try to push forward with your arms, but the effort feels limp and ineffective.

You're not going to make it, you're not going to make it, you're not going to make it, and then you feel your feet land on the top of the cliff. You land too close to the edge and you think "I made the jump and I am still going to end up in that nasty, smelly, old creek." As you windmill your arms and try to catch your balance, Alan Smith and John Carr dart forward and tug you to safety. Alan Smith puts his arm around your shoulder and whispers in your ear "That was fantastic." With his arm around your shoulder, Alan leads you to the top of the little cliff. He stands there looking down at the kids waiting for their turn, and the ones who have already tried and failed. He clears his throat and yells "If this pretty little girl can make it, and you can't, I'm going to talk trash about you for the rest of your lives."

Did the coolest guy in the whole school just say you were pretty?

By Stephen Cornwell

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