John and Joanne stood near the rail looking out over the Minitor Mountain Range. In the distance they could see their home town, and almost see the bridge over the river.
Just then a very colourful skydiver passed them heading out towards the open pasture.
“Wow! Look at that! Wouldn’t it be lovely to be able to do that? Soar like the birds, and see such beautiful sights!” Joanne squealed.
“They’re just around the corner, let’s go and watch them take off!” John answered.
They put on their back-packs and proceeded to walk a few more yards up the mountain path until they came upon a dozen or so young sky-divers, in the process of getting ready for their flight.
They made sure to stay well back with quite a few other spectators who were watching.
Suddenly one of the older men in the group walked towards them. Surveying the spectators he began to speak. “Hi, my name is Erik. We are currently looking for new recruits to join our sky-diving team. We call ourselves the ‘kingfishers”. Is there anyone interested in learning to sky-dive? It won’t break the bank to join, and you will have all the support you will ever need from a wonderful team!”
“Are your team members dying off!” Someone shouted, and there was a giggle from the crowd.
“No.” Erik replied. “Some of our members have reached the age which is recommended, to retire from sky-diving, although we still have a few over that age. We haven’t had an accident in ten years, and that was when a parachute refused to open. The reserve canopy was deployed and the member landed safe and sound.”
Erik looked at the crowd as if to say “you know nothing!” then walked back to his team at the edge of the cliff.
“Well, here’s your chance Joanne. You thought how great it would be to be able to sky-dive?”
“You’re kidding! It must be great, for OTHER people! I have never even been in a plane, I would probably pass out!”
“If you pass out there is a parachute which opens automatically, so you would still land safely.”
A deep voice said from behind. Erik shook hands with John and Joanne.
“Nice to meet you. Would you be interested in learning, at all?”
“Could you hang on just a moment, while I have a little chat to my girlfriend in private?” “Sure.” Erik replied.
John took Joanne a few yards away so they couldn’t be heard.
“Here’s your chance Jo, don’t throw it away, you may regret not doing this one day.”
“Come on John, I would be scared to death, I could never jump off a cliff, without being pushed!”
“I’ve read all about sky-diving Jo, your first several flights are in tandem with someone else, until you are ready to go solo, it’s not an overnight thing, it takes months. Summer is just starting, so it’s the ideal time to start learning.
Tell you what, I dare you!
If you can do this by this time next year, I will buy you that engagement ring you’re always looking at, the $5,000 one! You need to be able to go solo by the same time next year, or the deals off!”
Joanne stared at John open-mouthed and wide-eyed. She thought about that beautiful ring sitting in the Jeweller’s window. It had been there quite a while so they had reduced the price by several hundred dollars. If she didn’t get it, she was sure someone else would snap up such a bargain. Did she have the nerve to do this? She hated to back down from a dare, unless it was impossible.
Joanne looked at John. “Okay, I’ll have a go at this!”
John started jumping around in excitement. “Yes, yes, yes!” he yelled. “You had better start saving John, that’s a lot of money to get in twelve months!”
They walked back to Erik. Joanne extended her hand. “Okay, you have a new member, when do I start?”
“That’s great!” Erik replied. “Come over and I’ll introduce you to some of our key members!”
After the introductions she was given a bit of paperwork and Erik said he would be in touch in the next week or so, as to when and where, she could start training. “In the meantime Jo, I want you to go over all the instructions and learn everything off by heart, so you know the answers straight off.”
Joanne spent the next week on the internet every day, for hours, learning all she could about sky-diving as well as learning all the instructions Erik had given her.
By the time Erik rang back Joanne knew all there was to know about the extreme sport, and she had changed her mind.
“What do you mean, you’ve changed your mind? Why? What have you read that has scared you off? Are you sure Joanne?”
“I am so very sorry to have wasted your time Erik. I really thought I could do this, but I was just kidding myself.” She then told Erik about the dare.
“Now I understand why you agreed, but unfortunately that’s not the way it works. Saying yes, just because someone dares you, doesn’t take away your fear and anxiety. If you still have vertigo and high blood pressure, then this sport is not for you. I am sorry to lose you Joanne, but that’s the way it goes. Have a nice life.”
Joanne thanked Eric for his understanding, and hung up.
That night when john arrived, Joanne sat him down and told him what had happened.
“I’m sorry John, but I accepted that dare for all the wrong reasons. I knew in my heart I could never do it. And when my high BP started to soar again, I knew I had to stop this ruse before it got out of hand.”
John looked at her for a few minutes with disappointment etched into his face, and Joanne felt so very guilty.
Then suddenly John’s face broke out into a large grin. Joanne was stumped. What was going on?
“You didn’t really think I would make you stick to that stupid dare, did you Jo? I knew you could never do it, what with your vertigo and BP. If I have made you worry too much about it, please forgive me.”
“But what about the ring?” Joanne asked. “Does this mean I will never get the ring I have wanted for so long? Is there some other dare I could do?”
“ No, of course there’s no other dare for you Jo! I love you just as you are, I don’t need you to do any dares for me!”
John knelt down on one knee in front of her and handed her a little red, velvet box.
“If you will forgive me for being so stupid, I am asking you to marry me, please Jo!”
Joanne opened the little box and almost fainted. There staring back at her was the engagement ring she had longed for.
“Of course I forgive you John, I should never have been silly enough to accept that dare in the first place. I should have told you off right then!” They both laughed.
“Yes, of course I’ll marry you John, you are the love of my life, now I dare you to take that ring away! Just put it on my finger where it belongs!”
The following year they were married, and John made sure he never made any dares, ever again.