We climb from the water up the steep trail to the clifftop. You assure me there’s a sheer drop, nothing to smash into on the way down. My trust isn’t so easily gained. I backtrack partway, drop into the water from six feet, then ten feet, fourteen, eighteen, and finally, the full twenty-two.
The fall is forever, too far to hold a breath. Inhaling and exhaling during the descent, doing a rapid-motion calculation to ensure I have air at the right moment. Water smashing into me with a cold velocity that startles breath into a submerged scream. Penetrating the water with such impact ~ it shatters, breaks ~ seems impossible it could close over me. Plunging uncontrolled deep, touching bottom, down twelve or fifteen feet to the dark rock. Trying to push upward against the intensity of the descent while I still have strength. Starving freakishly for air as I open my eyes, see the bright bubbled surface, want to escape from the cold depth. Struggle to emerge before a gasp is necessary. Crash through to light and fill with a rush of warm summer air. I climb the trail to the top of the cliff and lie in the sun, panting exhausted, proud and scared.