Just before my husband pushed me, he’d whispered in my ear.  “A Roman emperor used to throw visitors he didn’t like over the cliffs and into the sea below.” 

I felt Phillip’s arms at my waist. 

And then, I felt nothing. 

I began to fall, the pressure of my husband’s fingertips only a memory.

As I fell, the memories flew by, faster and faster until it was all I could do to grasp at them; as if by holding onto them, I could gain purchase on my life again.

I thought of the day I’d agreed to marry Phillip.

“Don’t go,” he’d said to me, the week before I was to leave on a mission trip.  “You can help people here—in the United States.”

“This is important to me, Phillip.”

He took my hand.  “The rainforest is full of dangers.  You’re terrified of snakes.”

I lifted my chin.  “I’ll learn to overcome my fear.”

He released my hand.  “At least come camping with me before you go.”

Phillip killed the snake that I’d found curled inside the tent.  And then, holding the snake by the head, he looked me in the eye.  “There are bigger snakes than this in the rainforest.  Marry me, Jules.  I’ll keep you safe.”

Within a year, I’d given birth.  I busied myself with bottles and diapers and doctor’s appointments.  As I began to navigate the waters of motherhood, my confidence increased.  I became aware of my power as a person.

And then, the baby got sick.

“It’s not your fault, Jules.”  But Phillip’s were eyes dark and angry as he turned away and knelt to pray in the hospital chapel.

The baby recovered.

My confidence did not.

There was an accident.

I totaled the car.

There was a dinner party.

My food sickened the guests.

But Phillip was there every time, to pick up the pieces and pat them back into place like a clay figurine, raw and unfired and malleable.

From this height, I could see the way the earth knit itself together.  The fields were anchored in place by pristine farmhouses and pretty red barns.  The roads crisscrossed here and there; so many places to get to where you are going.  So many paths to take.  Further off, the interstate cinched itself around the ever-expanding waistline of factories and malls and discount stores.

My mind returned to the snake, the baby, the accident, the party.  All of those events, I realized, were linked: Phillip had put the snake inside the tent.  Phillip had sickened the baby and slit the tires and poisoned the dinner.  And every time, Phillip was there to rescue me.  Now there was this; Phillip’s birthday present to me, ostensibly to help me overcome my fears. 

Phillip had cinched a belt around my confidence.

I wondered how he intended to save me now. 

I pulled the rip cord.  My chute deployed. 

Time slowed.  

I relaxed. 

So this was what it was like, I mused, to be weightless.  This was what it felt like to be free of worry.  This was what it felt like to be full of confidence.  This time, Phillip’s plan to rescue me had backfired: When he pushed me from that plane, Phillip had set me free. 

I studied the gentle swell of the earth rising up to meet me.  I was here.  I had arrived.  And as soon as my feet hit the ground I was going to ask Phillip for a divorce.

Post script: Phillip had cut the cord on the parachute he’d intended for me.  But just before the jump, while Phillip was in the front of the plane, the instructor switched chutes.

Apparently my husband had planned to save me mid-air.

No divorce proceedings were necessary.

For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Eric Limer challenged me with “Write something where the viewpoint character is in freefall for the duration of the story’s timeframe. (Your POV can, like, think back on things, but he/she should be in the air at the beginning of the story and in the air at the end.)” and I challenged Chimnese with “You’re given the opportunity to meet your mother or father at a point before your birth. Who would you meet? When? What would you talk about?”

20 thoughts on “Freefall

  1. Wow, I love how complete this is! You did a great job setting up the situation — and then giving the reader all the resolution that’s needed, which is hard to do in a piece this short. Very well done.

  2. Like it. The common thread is that everyone loves to see justice done and with the bonus of her having “Clean Hands” Loved last observation, Divorce was not needed….

  3. I began to suspect as the horrible events mounted that Philip was behind each one. What a sick twisted idea of love to make someone believe they need you to save them.

    Well done

  4. Hot DOG! I was sure he’d killed her at the beginning, that her realizations were those of a dying woman. The rip cord jerked me upwards like it must have done her, and only in the epilogue did I understand why nothing had gone wrong.

  5. I was like, wait! She’s plummeting to her death! Then as she continued plummeting I thought it doesn’t normally take this long how high was the cliff? Oh it was a plane. Cool. Loved it!

  6. Yes, Morgan, I was wondering whether she spent too much time in the air, even if she was parachuting. Thanks for reading.

  7. Yeah, originally I was going to have him kill her, but I didn’t think that was a very satisfying ending. Plus she had to stay in the air and I had to continue in her POV.

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