Going up in the airplane is the hardest part.
“When you jump out of the airplane, you have to arch your back, spread-eagle yourself. If you curl into a ball you’ll drop like a stone and we can’t get you into the right position.” Thirty people press their hands and feet against the grass and push their hips toward the sky. “Good, good… good! Wow, everyone got it right. You guys are amazing. Way better than the last group.”
She can’t breathe when they break five thousand feet. She can feel the air thrumming against the side of the airplane, the thin metal skin between her and nothingness. The man strapped to her leans forward and hollers into her ear, “Having fun? Don’t worry, it gets better!” She gives him a shaking thumbs-up.
“I’m right here, just jump.” Her father is treading water underneath the board. “I won’t let you drown, don’t worry.” On the other board her sisters are leaping off, gaily. “I’m right here.” She gives a shaking thumbs-up and the instructor grabs her from behind and hurls her upward, off the board. In the second before she hits the water she goes stiff with outrage.
“Hey, look at the mountain,” says the man behind her, and when she does he pitches them both out the door. In the long fall she is bristled with rage again. “Good, good! You’re doing it just right.”