I stand at the top of the cliff, gazing down at the clear, cool green of the water. I can see the rocky bottom magnified through the river’s glassy surface. The sunlight flickers along the cliff, reflecting off the smooth water. I will myself to step closer to the edge, away from the shade of the small firs, and into the sun. I stand there, soaking up the warmth of the sun as it plays over my body. My bare feet grip the rough, gray rock; my toes curl over the edge. A lazy waft of air reaches me from the river, carrying the faint scent of long-gone salmon and the cool soothing smell of the river itself. I gaze down and see the rock dropping away toward the river below. It reaches the water and turns green and mossy as it continues its downward journey. Little eddies of pine needles gradually drift down the river toward the faint sound of the rapids. I tense my muscles, hesitate, in a moment of indecision, and then I jump. The wind whips by me, no longer a faint whisper, and I windmill my arms to stay balanced. I glimpse the water rising to meet me as I point my toes and enter the water. I sink—down to the tranquil depths—before rising slowly to the surface. My feet sting, but I have done it. I grin my silent jubilation as I swim to the cliff and begin the climb once more.
By Josiah Ney