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Take chances

Paul Duray
Jumping into Lake

Staring up at the peak of the rock face sent chills down my spine. We waited in the cold water below, preparing ourselves to climb up the steep hill. Frannie loved this sort of thing, but for Matt and me, it was a different story. I shook uncontrollably, telling myself this was a safe and casual thing to do. People climb up rock faces all the time, right? 


“Ready?” Frannie asked us. 


“I guess,” we replied. 


It was a challenge to reach the top. When we finally did, we pushed off the edge of the quarry and into the dark, cold void of water. Trying to look down to the bottom was impossible; you couldn’t see a thing. 


I closely followed Frannie and Matt as we made our way around the corner to the shore. Our feet found rocks to stand on and we saw a small muddy area that allowed us to climb out. We emerged from the cold water, looking for somewhere to stand among the dense vegetation. All three of us squeezed onto one small patch of land as we searched for a way farther up. 


Finally, we found an opening among the trees and started our climb. We struggled as we pushed and pulled our way through rocks and trees getting cuts and scrapes along the way. Luckily, we found a small opening at the top of the hill, just enough room for the three of us. From where we stood, we could see across the deep, water-filled quarry. The reflection of the sun against the water was blinding. Don’t fall, I told myself. I began to sweat. Am I really about to jump off of this cliff? I clung to the surrounding trees with white knuckles hoping to support myself but knowing if I slipped the branches would snap. Frannie, Matt, and I glared at the small slope down followed by the drop-off.


We would have to climb down the slope and jump as far as we could to clear the rocks below. None of us had ever been here before. We didn’t know if the water was even deep enough for a drop from this height. 


Frannie didn’t care. She carefully climbed down the slope and leaped as far as she could, splashing feet first into the cold water below. Luckily she surfaced, laughing. 


A rush of relief came over me. My turn. I stared over the edge of the cliff at the rocks below. Please jump far enough, please jump far enough, please jump far enough, I thought to myself.


Finally, I committed. I jumped into the air as far and high as I possibly could, hoping to clear the rock surface below. Freefalling for what seemed like forever, my body met the extremely cold water with a splash and I sank into darkness. Kicking and pulling myself to the surface I gasped for air. I laughed uncontrollably when I got back to the rocks. 


After a few moments, Matt jumped and met us at the rock face.


Jumping the cliff could’ve ended horribly. Luckily, we left the quarry with little damage. To my surprise, the risk of serious injury or death made me feel the most alive.

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