The Practice Run

water

Former pilot Mike Mayes could see for miles from his vantage point at the top of the water slide. Leaning against the curved cockpit-like windows lining the enclosed platform, he was flying again, cutting through the sky, when the whistle of the ride attendant brought him back to earth, or at least to the platform 150 ft above earth.

“Hey, you! Get ready! You’re next.”

Mike shouted back, “OK! OK! I’m ready. Just give me a minute. OK?”

In a bored, I’ve heard this a million times voice, the attendant said, “Sure, dude, whatever. Sit down, cross your feet and cross your arms over your chest. When you’re ready lean forward, take a little jump and let gravity do its thing. Don’t wait too long or I’ll have to give you a  push.”

Mike’s eyes clamped shut. He wanted… no, he needed this ride to be all about the sensations and the darkness. Since being grounded 4 months ago he knew only darkness. This practice run would help him figure it all out. Could he make the jump into nothing, ending his pain? He chose this water slide due to its almost immediate vertical fall. So with the smallest of movements he leaned forward, jumped … and realized that his body was not making contact with the slide. As he fell, a kaleidoscope of images passed through his mind and transported his soul to a place of wonder and excitement. The misty water falling with him and the cool air soothed his tortured soul. His body finally smacked against the slide as the tube curved to horizontal. Briefly knocked out, he kept going through a series of ascents, spirals and descents before splatting hard into the pool.

The blazing sun greeted him when he opened his eyes and he felt prickly stinging sensations all over his body that began to itch something fierce. He couldn’t remember where he was until he felt someone dragging him out of the way of the next thrill seeker.

He crawled up the steps of the pool, flopped his body onto the hot pool deck and wept, relieved he had taken the practice run. The journey from platform to pool had blown away the darkness, replacing it with an exhilarating lightness and longing for life.

He limped to the stairway, ready to slide again. And again.

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5 thoughts on “The Practice Run

  1. I like the soft touches you give your characters. Mike is obviously planning to kill himself, but you didn’t linger in the seriousness of that. For me, the fact that he was serious smacked me in the face at the end. Nicely done, Ellen. I would have liked to have known Mike a little better by knowing what the images were that he thought of on the way down.

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    1. Thanks! I debated about telling more about the images, and they just weren’t showing themselves to me, to be honest. If I was being a critic for this piece though, I would have said the same thing.

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