Short Story 3: Losing
( More writing group stuff. The theme was “losing” – duh)
The wind tore at her face, filling her nostrils with sharp wisps of air and threatening to flood her lungs at a much too hasty rate. She was falling fast and hard and yet her thoughts did not dwell on the possible catastrophic ending ahead of her. No, her mind was strangely free of any worries. She had never felt this way before, devoid of any concern for what was coming. Her life had always been one of caution as she always felt a need to control the outcome of what was happening to and around her, but now everything was completely out of her hands. Five hundred feet up in the air, she had no choice but to let go.
The overwhelming sense of elation came, not just from the simple action of freefalling, but from the thought that this was entirely different from anything she would have fathomed doing under normal circumstances. Her actions were usually muted, her life sheltered. Ever since she could remember, she had been painfully shy and reserved, always politely refusing any new ventures that had even an inkling of excitement attached to them. She couldn’t think of any reason why she had turned out that way, no childhood traumas or life changing epiphanies to tell of, nothing. She had just been born that way. She finally accepted that most people thought she was boring and strange. And then she met Sam.
Sam was different from everyone else. He never tried to get her to break out of her shell, as others would put it. He had seen her for what she was and accepted her as she came. No teasing or demands on her unadventurous soul to take a step towards anything she felt uncomfortable with. Yes, Sam was different, and if she was being really honest with herself, a little stifling sometimes. It wasn’t that she didn’t appreciate his accommodating her awkwardness, it was just that lately sometimes even the things she managed to surprisingly allow herself to accept as achievable were shot down by him as not quite right for her. Like the time her sister had convinced her that she would look stunning wearing the red and black slinky dress she had seen in a shop window to her cousin’s wedding. She had returned the dress almost immediately after Sam pointed out all the reasons why it was not the right decision for her. Too much skin, too loud a shade of red, drawing unnecessary attention to herself; what would people think? Or there had been the drama that ensued after she expressed interest in taking salsa dance lessons. Just thinking about it made her stomach turn. Or maybe that was just the gravitational pull on her organs.
Despite all that, here she was riding the wind, not a care in the world. She had made no attempt to rationalise her decision as she had signed the disclaimer the bespectacled bearded man had handed over to her. She had blocked all thoughts of Sam out as she had let them take her up hundreds of feet into the air. Somehow she knew that this would be the first of many daring adventures. The elastic band which held her feet together yanked her upwards with astounding force as the band reached its limit and dutifully retracted as they had told her it would. She had been so close to the water that she had seen the surprised expression on her reflected face before her body got pulled away. She shut her eyes for only a second to calm her nerves.
Sam’s voice. What was he doing here? She reluctantly opened her eyes and saw his face only inches away from hers, contorted with worry. She felt the softness of the sheets beneath her and sighed. It had all felt so real.
“I…” she started to say something but stopped herself. How could she explain the sense of relief she had felt in her dream when she thought that she was free of him? How could she tell him that it had been more comforting than anything he could ever say or do to calm her in real life? “No, I was just cold,” she lied, pulling the covers over her shoulders. She remembered the feeling of liberation she had experienced only a few seconds ago and sighed. The thought of losing some of her many inhibitions had almost been intoxicating. She sighed again as Sam settled back down beside her. It was probably better this way.