'Prepare to be immersed in the heat and vibrancy of Florida's natural world, full of such sensual detail that to read it is to breathe it in.' -Jo Shapcott [review of Greyhound Night Service]

'Can't stop, coming in hot'

I'm on Week 3 of the IndieInk Writing Challenge and this week's challenge comes from Anastasia McDonnell. It's one helluva challenge for me:

Tell us about the scariest moment in your life and what you did to get through it.

I've been thinking about this for the past few days and even dreaming about some of the things in my life that have been scary (thanks Anastasia!). So gonna start off by compiling a Top Ten scariest moments...

1. A very bad incident on a flight from the U.S. to the U.K. in Feb 2000
2. Waiting to see if my mom was going to be diagnosed with cancer last year
3. Getting across a terrifying rope bridge while ziplining
4. Realising I was stuck in a job from hell a few years ago (and knowing I couldn't leave yet)
5. Falling down a flight of stairs
6. Waiting for my sister to come out of surgery after she broke her jaw
7. Being in the car when my friend hit a deer
8. A lightning storm in Florida
9. Falling in love
10. Trying out for a dance competition when I was 17

Wow! So, which of these demons do I want to write about? I admit I'm choosing one that won't then haunt me again for days to come after I dredge up the nitty gritty on it.

The Bridge

cue duelling banjos On New Year's Eve my sister, brother-in-law, boyfriend and I decided to go ziplining. My sister and bro were experienced zippers, having been on many much more challenging courses than the one we chose. And the one we chose was famed for being in the woods where Deliverance was filmed...

I was nervous, yes, but not terrified. I've always wanted to try ziplining and I was actually really stoked. So we began and the first few zips were just completely exhilarating. Each zip we went higher into the trees...

About half way through the course our guides mentioned that there was an optional advanced ropes section we could do if we wanted and he pointed out three bridges ahead. I'm definitely doing those, I said to the others, not seeing any reason to avoid some extra adventure.

Finally we got to the rope bridges, and from where I stood, at the beginning of the first one, they looked fun and...I didn't want to say to the others...quite easy. I was last in the queue to begin, guides at top and tail of the group. The first bridge was a cool zig-zag of ropes and boards and wobbled lots but was fun to cross. The second was a bog-standard bridge like you see in films, usually the type that someone has to cross when a whole tribe of bandits are chasing the hero and he has to run for it. Mid-way along that second bridge I stopped smiling up into the trees and dancing around like an eejit, and I looked ahead, noticing the queue had slowed down at the entrance to THE THIRD BRIDGE.

Are you kidding me? I shouted. There was no way I was going to get across Bridge 3: there were more gaps than pieces of wood to step on, and the only thing to grip for balance these short ropes dangling above each gap. At this point I should mention, we were only 40-50 feet in the air. And I am not afraid of heights, but I have a serious fear of falling. (At least 4 things from the scary list involve falling). So although I'd love to be up really high, I wouldn't, for example, ever ever ever no matter how much you paid me, bungee jump.

So, 40-50 feet up and Bridge 3 was swaying in the wind, swaying from the movement of my sister who was attempting to cross. At just over 5 feet tall, she has legs about as short as mine and was struggling to leap (yes leap) from wooden plank to wooden plank, over the e n o r m o u s gap of air / space / room to plummet to earth. Even the men were struggling to move across it and they were all over 6 feet tall.

Then it was my turn. I was sweating and my tummy churned threateningly. There was nothing to hold and I couldn't quite grab onto the ropes in each gap as they were swaying with the wind too. Finally I had to step out. It was either start the bridge or turn back. I had too much pride to turn back! Each step I had to leap the gap and each time the fear was so heavy in me I almost weed my pants! Each time was a leap into the unknown with the serious possibility of falling (yes I had safety ropes attached to my back but I still would've fallen before being jerked to a halt). At the final leap I charged over thin air, flinging myself straight into the waiting arms of guide 1. While I trembled and shook and nearly collapsed, the guide looked me over and said--Way to challenge yourself out there, great job!

Something I'd probably say to my students if they tried a tricky rhyme scheme in a poem or something. But hey, I survived. And only once in that crossing did I look down.

(The guy on the bridge here is well over 6 feet tall and notice his hesitation!)


  1. I had no idea you did this! Quite the accomplishment!

  2. I'd say, way to challenge yourself here but... it's already been said. :)

  3. You're brave for doing that and not demanding a helicopter come and rescue you!


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