“I can’t do this!”
“You can, don’t worry about it. I’ve got you.”
Don’t worry about it? I’m some ridiculous amount of metres up in the air, about to jump out of an aeroplane with only Dylan to rely on. I’ve never been this afraid in my life.
“I don’t want to do this, Dylan. Please take me back down.”
“There’s only one way we’re getting down from here, Claire,” he yells.
There’s no time to reply. Before I can turn my head and tell the man strapped in behind me that I’m not ready and ask why he talked me into doing this, we are out of the aeroplane and somersaulting through the air.
The noise of the wind is deafening as I fall through the air, but not enough to block out the sound of my screams. When I run out of enough breath to scream, I suck another lungful of air in and start screaming again. Only the persistent chuckling coming from Dylan strapped in behind me is enough to distract me from my fear. I want to hit him for laughing at my expense. Sure, I agreed to jump out with him – something I now know was a giant mistake, but he doesn’t have to find my fear so amusing.
I should have backed out when he was briefing me and taking me through all the safety procedures. Even then, I knew this was crazy. Jumping out of aeroplanes isn’t me. At least it hasn’t been. Dylan has changed that. I’ve lost count of all the things I’ve done with him lately that I’ve never done before. Dylan James is a daredevil and he’s taken me along for a ride that’s been both terrifying and exhilarating.
In the past month, I’ve repelled over giant rock faces, attempted water skiing, wakeboarding, and surfing. I’ve even gone parasailing with him. Every time I thought I couldn’t do something and tried to back out, he pushed me to keep going and I surprised myself. I’m getting used to the adrenaline rush Dylan speaks so highly of. My comfort zone is a thing of the past.
Perhaps jumping out of an aeroplane was one step too far, though.
“You okay?” he yells.
I’m gasping for air, trying to focus on my breathing. The adrenaline saturating my nervous system hardly qualifies me as okay. Dylan pulls the cord on our parachute, sending us shooting upwards. With the parachute out, I feel a little safer, but not much.
“Why did I let you talk me into this?”
“You wanted to know what this feels like.”
Okay, I did. The way he described it to me…It sounded magical.
“Look around you, Claire. Take it in. We’re flying through the air. Doesn’t it feel incredible?”
I’m about to answer him no, but his touch reassures me and I’m able to relax long enough to look around. More than his touch, there’s something in his voice – something pleading with me to find something deeper from the experience. Dylan is sharing his world with me – he’s made it his mission to do so ever since my brother seemingly gave us his blessing to carry on as we were.
So I look around. I let myself breathe in the chilly air, look up at the clouds we’ve just fallen through, and watch our descent. The ground looks like it’s coming up way too fast and I tense up the closer we get.
“I’ve got you.”
His gentle words are a reminder to have confidence in him. I haven’t died with him yet.
I’m aware of his movements and instructions as we hit the ground running.
When we come to a stop, I realise I’m laughing. Perhaps it’s a little on the hysterical side, but I feel good. No, I feel amazing – like I’ve just conquered the world.
“How was that?” Dylan asks as he unstraps my harness.
I turn around to face him. “Unreal. Hands down the most incredible thing I’ve ever experienced.”
He grins. “The rush is something else, isn’t it?”
“I wanted you to experience that, Claire. Do you know why?”
“Because you love it?”
“That, too.” He leans down to kiss me softly, putting his hands on my shoulders. “But I really wanted you to experience it because I needed you to understand. I needed you to know that the way it feels to jump out of that aeroplane – the rush and the excitement, the feeling you’re falling – that’s how I feel every time I’m with you.”
His blue eyes are locked with mine as his fingers brush my face in a tender caress. I rise up on my tiptoes, wrap my arms around his neck, and kiss him. It’s the only way I can hide what I’m feeling in this moment. Tears well behind my shut eyelids as I battle with the emotions his words evoked in me. Our time together has been precious – every last second of it.
And it’s nearly over.
He’s leaving in two weeks’ time. And once he’s gone, I’m not quite sure how I will survive the loss. In the past three and a half months, he’s taught me so much. He barged into my life, into my heart, and made me feel things, made me want things that could never be a possibility.
I know he’ll never stay. I did my best to keep him at arm’s length, but he didn’t let me for long.
Every day, I wonder how I’ll be able to move on from him. I keep reminding myself we want completely different things in life, but the more time I spend with him, the less important it seems.
I open my eyes and look at him. “Do you want to go out to dinner with me tonight?” he asks.