Fear

I wrote this tiny story for my high school’s literary magazine in the June 2004 edition. That means this story is over fourteen years old; six months shy of fifteen years. Please do not repost or take as your own. But feel free to comment and let me know what you think about it!


The long fronds of weeping willow branches swayed in the breeze. The tree’s roots dove deep underground and twisted around until they reached the creek.

Over the creek was a long, rickety bridge. On one bank willows and other conifers were plentiful and the creek rushed by. On the opposite, there was a large rock face and the base of it sunk below the still surface of a deep pool that formed there. Tied to the strongest branch of the tree was a long thick rope. Every summer, boys and girls would go to that tree to see if they had the courage to swing down from the cliff into the water.

That summer the creek was unusually high and the currents were dangerous, but Pete was still determined to make that one single jump. He had gone countless times with his brothers, watching them swing high into the air and splash into the murky waters of the pool. But each time he stood frozen to the rock as his eldest brother John urged him forward. For two years, Pete tried and, even after his brothers had gone on to college, he still stood on that cliff, looking down fearfully at the water below.

Now Pete was in high school, and the creek wasn’t visited as much as it used to be. The rope that had been tied to the oak had slacked over time and hung, swaying lazily in the breeze.

This is the day, Pete thought. For ten years he had been trying to jump. His heart raced as he slowly stepped over to the rope and wrapped his quivering fingers around it. The fibers had become frayed and weathered and tickled his hand, challenging him to jump. John and his new bride were coming home to visit today. Wouldn’t it be grand if Pete came home, dripping wet and could tell hijs brothers that he had jumped and survived?

Sweat glistened on his face as he grasped the rope with both hands and stepped one…two…three…ten steps back. Pete began to run and suddenly he was flying into the air. Pete burst into childish whoops of joy, a sound that surprised even himself. He dropped into the cold water and rose up, catching his breath.

Grinning from ear to ear he glanced back up to the edge of the cliff. His brother stood there, clad in a pair of swimming trunks. His brother had seen him conquer his fear.


When I wrote this I was still going to summer camp. I didn’t quite remember why I wrote this until I started posting it on this site. There’s a natural rock water slide in a place called Cucumber Falls in Pennsylvania. Sometimes there’s just a trickle of water at the Falls. Other times the waters roar right over.

The year our group went up it was after a week of heavy rain. We spent some time at the Falls and made our way to the “slide.” The water rushed down, wove around the bends and dipped under the carved-out archway. Other families were hanging around, enjoying the sun and the water at the bottom.

I wondered why no one was going down and of course, I had to discover why the hard way. Just like the water, I was rushed down. Woven around. Banged at the bends and dipped under the carved-out archway. 

Conclusion: bruises are not fun. They did not let anyone else go down.

Conclusion Number Two: I still have trouble with my tenses! I guess some things never change!

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