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The Jump

The old barn never let me down. It's easy to find materials for any project my mind can dream up. Today I'm searching for a wide board and a couple of blocks for my big stunt. The Price Is Right comes to mind as I pass the old dust-covered corn sheller and give the wheel a spin. It's always fun to see how long the hoop rotates because it's a sign I'm getting stronger. A stopwatch would come in handy, but I trust my ability to count each second out load until the oversized metal ring comes to a halt. I smiled with pride as I beat my last record by two full seconds.

While dragging a wooden plank outside, I recalled a conversation between the adults during our Independence Day celebration a few months ago. I overheard my cousin Bonnie telling her brother Butch and a few others something that shook me to the bones. She mentioned how Clarksville would be one of the first cities to burn if a nuclear war broke out because we're close to Fort Campbell. The discussion turned to politics, so I quickly lost interest and prepared for the firework show. Her words stuck with me and weighed on my heart the rest of the summer. Conversations with myself and replaying old scenarios are my favorite past time.

One last trip into the outbuilding should do it. All I need is that big block over in the corner under a wooden box full of rusty tools. It took every ounce of energy I could muster up, but I managed to free the final prize. After dragging it outside, I constructed my official Evel Knievel ramp. I set everything up where the road split so once I hit maximum velocity, I'd safely land in the tall grass after making the jump. The field would create a safety cushion in case my mission did not go as planned.

A good stunt man checks his bike before any miraculous feat of wonder. The duct-taped seat tended to pop off easily, so it was essential to ensure she was good and tight. After kicking the tires, I hopped on my Huffy and peddled to the top of the hill. Looking down the dirt road, I forced myself to think of happy thoughts to relax.

For some reason, Star Wars flashed through my mind from a couple of summers ago. Memories of the movie aren't what stuck with me, though. My sister took me and some of her friends to get ice cream before the show. By the time we got in line, it had stretched from the theater to Riverside Drive. One of the girls in our group dropped her cone, and I watched it melt while we inched closer to the giant doors. It wasn't long before the scoop of Rocky Road disappeared, leaving a sticky stream of gooey mess in the parking lot. My heart was pounding in anticipation for the epic story, and George Lucas did not let me down.

Again, my pulse is racing as I stare over my handlebars, digging for every ounce of courage my eight-year-old body has to offer. Closing my eyes, I take a deep breath and push off. The crunch of the gravel under my rubber tires somehow urges me to go forth. All I have to do is coast while keeping my bicycle steady as I move closer to the jump. Every bit of common sense in my soul tells me to stop, but I refuse to listen. During these few seconds, any worries or concerns that existed in my young mind evaporated like that ice cream, and it was only me and that approaching incline. The sound of the rocks underneath stopped abruptly to be replaced with a creaking board and then silence. I floated so high into the air I could almost see the top of the barn. My chest filled with air as time stopped, and I froze for a moment. Suspended high above the ground, I smiled with overwhelming joy and pride in myself for overcoming my fear.

(Listen to the story here)

What goes up must come down. Like a heavy chunk of lead, I dropped from the sky and hit the ground hard. The impact threw my body over my Huffy, and I landed on my back. Evidently, the tall green grass was not as soft as I'd anticipated. As I gasped for air, I looked up into the clouds, imagining I was still drifting along. Once I caught my breath and found my bicycle seat, I picked my bent bike up and walked toward the house. I grabbed my back in pain and thought, "Well, if I can live through that, I'm not too worried about a bomb."

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