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Creative Nonfiction

I'm already pouting as I climb the metal stairs into the seen-better-days jungle jalopy. It's where I want to be, but not what I'll be able to do. Legally they can't let me zip line with a cast. 

The driver points out a pair of alligators half submerged in the tropical creek running by the side of our trekking path. Someone else points out a couple of deer not 20 feet from the gators but barely visible in the undergrowth. The gators start to move, are they ready for a quick dinner? Soundlessly the deer disappear.

My pout is merely a narrow disappointment now. Having talked the staff of Wild Florida into allowing me to get on the safari jalopy to view the zip liners and photograph them, the tugboat of my persistence kicks in. 

I address the driver in a joking manner, "There's only one tiny little minute part of me that isn't in perfect health for the zip lines. What if you don't see my cast? I won't tell anyone..."

She laughs, shakes her head emphatically no, hits a few bumps in the dirt track, raising her voice to tourist tenor, so that the other dozen people can hear, "See that field over there? That's the unicorn grazing meadow. There are three. See if you can spot them."

Before the words are fully out of her mouth, I chime in, "I see four. How could you miss that light green one? Just because it's so camouflaged? You are out here every day. You should know there are four..."

Repartee is set. The bait is succulent. Irrefutable. And I'm on a roll.

As we arrive at the chickee set up with the zip lining gear, I spot the leader of our group gathering together those with blue armbands, including husband Wayne. I join them, left arm dangling well behind my back.

"Where's your armband? Don't you want to go?"

A touch of my now-false pout returns, "They won't let me. Of course I want to go! I'm perfectly capable. I will put my left arm under my jacket and tie it there. No one will see!"

"Maybe.”(I let in a touch of excitement, both in my voice and my heart) Have you asked the driver Heather? She's the one in charge."


"I have..."

"She said no?"

I sigh, "But she did say that I could wear a helmet and accompany you up the first tower..."


But now I spot another group leader with the other half of our contingent. Sidling her way, or his (I'm not certain of the gender: long hair, semi-breasts, deep voice) "What would you say if I joined this group instead of the blue group?"

He/she looks down at my eager pleading eyes from muscled height, "Why not?"

"OK!!" I take my place in the semi-circle grabbing the harness from the floor to start pulling it up around me...

"Wait. Is that a cast on your arm?"


No go. With a half-smile, half-screwed up lip I turn away.

The phone rings. It's Mom. Fourth time today.

Wait, I think, flashing back:

Mom's up on the mountain at 75 years old gamely on a chair lift but shivering, not with cold, but with her fear of heights. As the chair approaches the dismounting spot she scoots forward a touch too fast and tumbles. Her thumb breaks.

The rest of the day she watches that thumb swell, discolor and ache. Not a complainer, she wraps it in an ice pack.

In the morning, with a double size thumb, someone convinces her to at least get an X-ray. Reluctantly she does only to discover it's broken, a cast is put on. Half (or more) relieved, she can no longer ski. But she hates the cast.

After a week, "It's too bulky. My arm itches. How am I supposed to make dinner with this thing on?"

Pete, intrepid Pete, to the rescue, saw in hand, "No need to wait until the vacation is over for the doctor at home. I can do it." 

 His mantra: I can do it. Better said: their mantra. Their persistence, coupled with bull-headedness and a pinch of outright dogged chutzpah. With her arm in the cast he somehow, finds a saw that he borrows at the ski resort and saws that sucker off.

I climb the first swaying tower above the flat Florida jungle with the geared up zip liners taking lots of photographs. The youngest girl in the group can't be persuaded to cross the suspension bridge going to the first platform. She pulls back.

"I'll take your gear," I suggest. Half-jest, half-serious, fully desirous.

I'm met with nervous giggles, snickers, shaking of heads. I don't quit, I persist.

The flash of the skiing accident returns: my mantra?  An echo of Pete’s: I can do it. The apple, they say, doesn't fall far from the tree. My persistence is coupled with mule-headedness.

Another sigh and I'm climbing down the tower. While the zip liners continue on their exhilarating way I photograph palm fronds and ponds, not nearly as much a thrill as zipping above the treetops, until I realize that I could follow their zipping far below and continue to take videos...and continue to give hints about how I might be able to participate.

"I've done this so many times before: like in Puerto Vallarta which was 700 feet at the highest above the canyon floor...have you (I address one of the leaders) ever gone to the Mega-cavern zip lines under Louisville? It's awesome...above Las Vegas was fun...wouldn't you like to trade your gear for my cast...?"

As they approach the final zip line, I'm waiting below. "Last one?" I call up to the leader.

"No. there's another short one after this. Just over there," He points.

"Do you think...?"

A silence. He is looking down at me, studying me. A barely perceptible nod. He whispers, "I've got a way for you to do it. Just wait at the other end of this suspension bridge..."

When all are done, he takes the small girl who couldn't force herself to begin the ziplining and hauls her back—he pulls hand over hand on a double line with her on one, him on the other, to the final platform. She zips down beaming, unafraid!

"Now get on the gear quickly"

"I don't want you to get in trouble," I'm mumbling since I ache to go.

He repeats the process with me. I promise not to touch the line with my left hand. His athleticism impresses me as we go up the zip line together-me dangling, he pulling on the metal line.

My shouts of joy as I zing down the line, that little last line, alone-impress the rest.

Mom and Pete's persistence lives on.

May 15, 2021 01:09

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1 comment

Crystal Lewis
13:35 May 22, 2021

What a lovely short tale about persistence (or stubborn-headed, mule-likeness)


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