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He was taking too long. The instructor was supposed to be out by now, teaching her the correct way to fall out of a plane. The other tandem skydivers were with their instructors, where was hers? She wasn't ready. It was her first dive, her friend had promised she would soar through clouds feeling light, weightless. A man wandered over, smiling. He stuck out his hand and said "I'm John, Dave's tied up with the DVD machine so you'll be diving with me."
A few minutes of instruction and they were walking out to the plane. She was tightly buckled into a harness and trying to stop from shaking inside. What if it split? What if she got dropped? What if the button thing didn't release the parachute and they plunged to their deaths? She wanted to go home and cuddle her cat and promise never to leave the ground again. Would it be a quick death?
The plane looked like a child's toy, one big propellor out front, small wings and a plastic door. She banged her head on the top of the doorway going in and sat down hard. The video girl was suited up, dressed iin a bright purple flightsuit with a DVD camera strapped to her helmet. Where's my helmet, she thought, all I have are these dumb goggles. The others in the plane were excited, solo jumpers and adrenaline junkies. They'd made her take off her watch on the ground, she had no idea of the time.
She left the plane at fourteen thousand feet, screaming. She's tried to back out on the flight up, but there were people behind, waiting to get out. What kind of idiot jumps out of a plane anyway, she thought. But it wasn't so bad once you got over the enormity of what you were doing. Yes, she was falling unsupported, at hard, unforgiving ground, but the worst part was over. Once you've jumped out of a plane, nothing else in your day can be as bad as that.
They landed safely, and she stopped shaking after a few minutes and stood alone in the hanger. No more scared little girl, no more basket-case I-can't-possible-do-this fears, no more cosmic angst. She had jumped out of a plane and survived! She smiled, waved goodbye to the jumpers, collected her watch and leather jacket from the locker and left.