Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Truth or Dare (08/28/08)
TITLE: Where Are Ravens When You Need Them?
By Sharlyn Guthrie
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“You climbed.” Ordinarily Dan was a likable teenager, but at that moment I wanted to smack him. We had too many witnesses, however. The ledge we were sharing jutted out forty feet above the lake where the rest of the youth group and the other chaperones sat staring up at us from their canoes. One look over the ledge, and I headed back the way we came.
“The only way off is to jump,” my companion said matter-of-factly. “I’ll go first.” Again I quelled a violent outburst, but I did manage a death grip on his arm.
“No! Not yet, I mean. Just let me figure this out.” He was right about the path we had taken to the top. We had climbed hand-over-hand, pulling ourselves up and over rocks. I’d broken two fingernails coming up. I could easily break my neck attempting to go down.
I tried to think of someone to blame for my predicament, and settled on my adventuresome, risk-taking husband, who was responsible for dragging me along on this trip in the first place –the one who had said, as compellingly as the serpent himself, “I dare you.” It had already been pointed out that Dan, Gilbert, and I were the last remaining holdouts, and Dan was already making his way to the top. That left me in the same category as Gilbert, a constant shirker of responsibility, feigner of injuries, and genuine pain in the posterior region. If that weren’t enough, my entire family had already successfully leaped off the cliff.
“Hold up, Dan!” I’d called out, oblivious to the shocked expressions exchanged by the others.
It can’t be that bad. Who cares that I’m the oldest female in the group? Besides, I’ll make my sons and my husband proud. Everyone will respect me, and news of my strength and courage will spread throughout the church -maybe even the city.
Grandiose thoughts had fueled my ascent. Now, with Dan’s arm turning blue beneath my fingers, I considered the alternatives.
Jumping is definitely out of the question. Climbing back down is impossible. Maybe I can convince the others to leave me here and pray for the ravens to feed me like Elijah.
My musings caused me to loosen my grip just enough that Dan wriggled away. “See ya at the bottom, Mrs. Larson. Good luck.” And with that, Dan ran and leapt off the cliff. I couldn’t bear to watch, but several seconds later I heard a splash, followed by cheers and applause from below.
I had never been so alone. I searched the sky for ravens and, seeing none, I edged closer to the ledge.
“Jump! Jump! Jump! Jump!”
So this is the respect I get…twenty ungrateful teens heckling me to leap to my death like a jilted lover on a New York skyscraper. I’ll show them. They’ll be sorry when their little wilderness vacation is cut short and they have to figure out how to haul my body back to civilization. Guess I’ll end up in the papers after all, if only in the obituaries.
I sucked in my breath, closed my eyes, and stepped off the ledge…down…down…down. When will I reach the bottom? Down…down…down…better take another breath. Down…down…down…I’m coming, Lord Jesus!
Splat! I felt as though I’d just been spanked –hard! Silence closed in and my lungs felt like they were in a vise as I rose to the surface. I came up gasping, and immediately sank back under the chilly water. This time, several hands grabbed and pulled me up and into a canoe.
“You did it!”
“I can’t believe it!”
“Way to go, Mrs. Larson.”
“Wait till everyone hears about this.”
“My mom would never do what you just did.”
I felt exhilarated and proud and thankful all at the same time.
“See, aren’t you glad you did it?” My husband asked, embracing me.
“I guess so. It was pretty impressive how long it took to reach the water. I actually had time to think! I broke two fingernails, though, and my back end is a little sore.”
“You’ll get over it,” he said, with not one bit of sympathy, and I did.
Later, however, in the privacy of our tent, I dropped my wet shorts and revealed a bruise the size of Texas. He gasped and quickly tried to suppress a grin.
“Go ahead and laugh,” I said. “I dare you.”
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