Life has a way of slipping past you, and every wonderful moment seems so few and far behind mixed within the muddled mess that we walk through each day. When you face the feat of death those incomprehensible moments of your life fade away from the cloudiness that was your judgement. Everything right and worthwhile is all that penetrates the startled soul that faces its last view.
For me those moments to relish in were my family, or what was my family. My mother hiking the outdoors with me back when my father was healthy, before the cancer spread. Her beautiful blonde hair had a way of catching the rays of sunlight, my fathers green eyes, like mine, that twinkled when he looked at us. The first time I learned to ride a bike as my father held on then disappeared leaving me to my own fate. My brother, Kal, comforting me during thunderstorms after dad passed away and mother locked herself in her room.
Kal was always there when everything else fell apart, until he wasn’t. It was a hot day when he put on his uniform, gave me a hug and his favorite pocket knife, then he saluted me, only me, and got on the plane. I had stayed at the airport windows for over half an hour watching the sky. Then Michael’s face shook my concentration. His astonished eyes when he saw a girl with curly blonde hair jumping out of a Hummer that nearly ran over him. The way he smiled at me when I looked at him as if he was a fool.
“Skylar!” Michael screamed.
He shook me over and over, his soothing voice became louder and in a hurry as I fought the slicing headache and opened my eyes. We were hanging over the bridge, facing the river. My head must have hit the window from when I braked and swerved.
“Skylar.” He was undoing my seatbelt.
“Yea.” I groaned touching the side of my head feeling a sticky substance.
“Skylar you need to wake up. I need you to get out of the car.”
“Okay.” I breathed in, feeling a sharp pain in my chest.
“I want you to slowly open the door and get out, then jump in that river and the current should take you down to the next town. Can you do that?”
I nodded my head. “What about you?”
He hesitated. “I’ll be right behind you.”
Grabbing his hand, “you promise?” He leaned in cautiously, feeling the movements of the car he leaned in, cradling my chin in his hand and kissed me. For a moment, this wonderful moment of feeling his skin upon mine and his warm embrace, I felt as if everything really would be okay, until he pulled away.
Holding my breath I slowly cracked the door open, feeling the shifting of the car, aiming toward the river. Putting one foot out the door and then the next I fell to the ground trying to hold anything to balance myself. The night became brighter. Ahead I saw several cars winding down the road.
“Michael, hurry!” I screamed. “They’re coming!”
He shifted his weight and the car began to tip. “Skylar, jump, jump in the river!”
“Not without you!” I screamed as it began to rain.
“No matter what way I move…” he trailed off. “I’ll be fine but only if you get out of here, far away, and I promise, I’ll find you.”
Staring back at the cars making their way closer I just couldn’t bring myself to jump, not when I was here because of him. If I lost him, then what was all this for?
“Skylar.” He drew my attention back to his face. “I’m strong, I know what I’m capable of. Trust me Skylar and get out of here.”
Stepping away while shaking my head I felt as if I was going to go mad, especially since I was about to jump off a bridge two stories deep into a rainy night that only made the current of the river look more insane to swim through. The tears I was holding back were seeping down my cheek, mixed with the downpour as I looked up at the sky that crackled from the lightning. Closing my eyes I remembered my first big jump.
It was in Spain when my parents enjoyed traveling during the summer. Kal had sneaked out of the house one afternoon and I had jumped in the back of the truck. He had drove up to a bridge with half-dozen other boys of all ages staring down and cheering as everyone was taking turns bungee jumping. I was around thirteen at the time, Kal was seventeen and he was always looking for a new rush. I had watched as they strapped him into a harness and I found myself climbing out of the trunk to watch as he stood at the rail ready to free-fall until he saw me.
As if he could feel my presence he stared at me with his big brown eyes, scrunching up his forehead as he cocked his head to the side. “You going to tell mom?” He stated and then groaned as he motioned me over and stepped back down. “Strap her in, or I’ll never hear the end of it.”
Kal held me tight and I tightened my arms around his waist nearly sucking the life out of him.
“Hey not so tight. If today’s my last day then I would prefer the fall to kill me than your vise-grip.”
I laughed but didn’t loosen my arms as he smiled at me with a look that owned the world and he took a step off the ledge for us.
I held on to that moment. Taking a deep breath, feeling the rain pounding on my shoulders as I tried to remember the feeling of the sun against my skin that summer. I remembered his advice before that leap. Breathe Skylar, keep your legs straight and hold on to me. I won’t let anything happen to you.
Taking a step off the ledge I imagined his arms holding me safely, and I jumped waiting for my strength to weaken the fall.