Posted by: alisa | June 30, 2009

another bunch of stories

greetings old and new friends,

it has been awhile.  as of late, we have been working on finishing up some stories and having a few new sets of eyes take a look at them.  we have been very fortunate to have some editing help with a few of our stories.  our friends tom, eriks, anne, reneee, tim and holly took a look at some stories in june and are now being sent another bunch for july.

we are still following the timeline we have made for ourselves: text of all 45-50 short stories done by the end of the summer and art work to be done soon after.  we’re meeting up once again in minneapolis july 10-12th for another writing weekend.  this will be our last before our longer weekend in august where we hope to put it all together!  boy, do we have some work before us.

for now, here is a story i have worked on in the last few weeks.  let me know what you think of it.  it’s one of my favorites…

rope swing adventure

we were in muscatine, iowa and it was nearing midnight.  nathan, one of the anderson sons, suggested we “go for a swim.”  that night, the air was real cool, a mid september breeze blew past us, asking calmly, “do you really want to go swimming tonight?”  i had no time to answer that question.  with the tug of the anderson charm, we had our shorts and tops on and a towel over our shoulders.  we drudged our way through the hills towards the andersons’ very own private pond.  back behind some of the gated paddocks, we arrived safely, without disturbing the sleeping sheep.

i thought to myself, when sheep can’t sleep, what do they count?  do they count us?  how many humans can jump over the fence?  i smile at the thought of sheep counting humans.  it is comforting to believe we all are a little restless at the end of the day.

it took a few minutes to enter the pond.  the water was uncomfortably cold.  as i was shivering, the bright moon made visible the enumerable small, pointy goosebumps on sarah’s skin.  we waded around in the water, with hopes of a warm spell.  eventually, with time and convincing to go a little deeper, the water began to warm us.  we made our way across the pond to the other side, where large trees and free ranging sheep wander during the daylight hours.  we watched as the andersons crawled up out of the pond and mounted a large, dark platform up on the bank.  they grabbed a hold of a rope and let it take them high over the pond.  they flew into the air, before falling gracefully back into the pond with a light splash.

i watched them fall deep into the pond.  rgace.  they held onto the rope with such strength, but let go of it with such bravery.  i thought to myself what it is that i am both holding onto for strength, but that i know i need to let go of?  in between the releases and splashes, i thought of myself up there on that platform.

of course, it was expected that the three of us would do the same.  we looked towards the bank of the pond and to the platform.  three large tractor wheels stacked high onto themselves, with a big piece of plywood balancing on top.  there were no secure bolts at the bottom.  there weren’t even nails to keep the wood down to the tires.  it was all a balancing act.  this was the ledge where my tippy toes would last feel hard surface.  i crawled up, certainly giving everyone a show with my saggy bottoms and wet tank.  i grabbed the rope above me, just barely above my head.  my toes were bent sharply over the edge of the platform, trying to hold on.  the scratchy rope scraped my palms dry.  it created a burn that made it hard to hold.  at the same time, i was afraid to let go.  there was no running room.  there was no space for me to catch speed so i could fly safely into the pond.  i just had to jump up, let the rope hold me, and let go.

it wasn’t long enough, i thought to myself.  i’m not strong enough.  the rope won’t hold me.  i’ll just lose my grip and fall to the weedy grass and mud below.  i will embarrass myself.  i can’t, i’m scared.  okay, on three i will go.  one, two, three.  still on this platform, i feel like my toes are glued down.  i can’t move.  why can’t i just do it?  just let go.

after counting to three maybe a dozen times, i closed my eyes, squeezed my hands around the rope until they burned, and fell forward, letting the swing of the rope and gravity take me down.  instantly, i was high into the air above the pond and sooner than i was expecting, i was swinging back toward the platform.

oh no!  i’ve lost my chance to let go, i am still hanging onto the rope.  why didn’t i just let go when i had the chance?  it took me so long to jump off the platform, why am i still holding on?

i swung back towards the pond, a little less high in the air and now just dwindling down to a slow steady pull of the rope.  it was at this moment that i let go of the rope and fell.  i crashed into the water, going deeper than my breathe could hold me.  i felt a sense of panic and my body moved fast to get to the surface, to get to the air above.  as i surfaced, i looked around and saw that the other two girls were up on the platform too, holding onto the rope just as i had.  after watching them peer into the darkness and the shallow pond below, i could sense their fear of letting go, too.

how do we let go of that fear?  we see the fall before us, we see the andersons get up and do it over again, but yet we still can’t believe it for ourselves?  we let others take the plunge and show us their release.  with that, we learn to be unafraid.

in time, i look up to the platform and see the girls swinging high into the pond.  we are all going back for another jump, just a little higher.  maybe i can do a flip in the air.  maybe even a back flip.  maybe i can go to the top of the platform, where the rope is just out of reach.  maybe i can…

when the moonlit pond adventure neared its end, i thought, when did it become so easy to let go?  what was i so afraid of anyways?  and what was it that i was holding onto?


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