Trees. Grass. Leaves. I control all of them. I
carry sounds and feelings. I pick up and blow cool air around the empty
woods. I settle with a chilly breeze, careful not to surprise anyone who
dares climb up into the trees’ canopy. "Who is THAT? Look at her SIZE!
There’s no WAY she’ll finish." I blow her hair around wildly underneath
her rock-hard neon helmet and she rushes to fix it. She's ready to prove
she CAN make it! After a few quick adjustments to her giant helmet and
loose harness, she's ready to climb. She mumbles a few words and she
steadily climbs up the decomposing ladder. Each deep breath she takes
and each small step she makes get slower and slower as she reaches the
next challenge. The BIG challenge. The big challenge that takes the most
courage. The staples. The far apart staples. The far apart icy and
rusted staples. The hard part. She stretches out her trembling arm and
grabs at nothing but my air. She's too short to reach!
"Come on, one more step," I whisper to myself. "Why am I whispering? I
need to let HER know she can do it!" WHOOSH, WHOOSH. I rustle leaves and
bushes in an effort to be heard, but it's no use when all you can do is
blow. I try to encourage her as she carefully heads up the ancient,
delicate tree, staple by rusty staple. I feel a rush of cold tingle
through my body surrounding her and I know she won't reach the towering
course. The bridge. The broken bridge. The old wood and wire broken
bridge. As she nears the sturdy wire bridge, I dive underneath her, both
of us pushing up with all our might. "You're almost there." I chant, and
her classmates carry on the confidential message. "You're almost there,
you're almost there." She gets a burst of energy and jumps two feet up
onto the intimidating bridge. Once you're up, don’t look down, but of
course she craves the knowledge of fright and stares downward to the
earth below. A flash of fear spreads across her empty face. She gets all
pale and her eyes shoot out of her head. She wants to get down, but the
endless cheers echo up to us. "You're almost there! You're almost
I gently push her along. The cheering just makes her more afraid. I can
tell she is frightened with each step, because she is nearing the broken
part. The worst part. "She won’t make it! She's going to fall! She'll
get hurt! Why did I bring her all the way up here, just to come crashing
down?" I hear her shaky voice say, "I'm scared, I want to go down."
I whisper back in a calming tone, "One more step until you're done. One
more step until you're safe, just until the gap in the bridge."
"Ok," she whimpers. Then slowly and carefully she inches her leg up and
pushes it forward, across the wobbling wire. "Now the other foot," I
remark gently. She picks up her foot and moves it easily. She inhales
and exhales deeply as her heartbeat quickens to the pace of a fast drum.
She pushes her arms forward and slides. She's there! Once again I hear
her shaking voice. Instinct tells me that her task is completed and her
"Bilayer ready?" she asks slowly.
"Ready," someone calls back up to us.
"Fall away," he answers.
I was overcome with joy as she dangled into my safe arms, my air. There
was a slow sigh. It was the girl; she was done and safe. Slowly. Slowly
fading. Slowly fading away down to the ground. The safe ground. The safe
ground, where she won't fall. Where I barely see her anymore. All the
children run to her and compliment her. Complimenting her with cheers.
Shouts. And hugs. For a kid who I thought didn't stand a chance against
the overwhelming course, she made the difficult melt into nothingness,
forgotten forever. She made it all seem easy.