The menial chores were easiest when she was lost in herself, a place she had visited more or more since it happened. Deep in thought she slowly moves around the kitchen, putting each item back in the proper place, wiping down the surfaces, filling the sink for the stack of dishes waiting to be washed.
She watches the water stream from the tap, the bubbles forming in the steam. She is trying to block out the noise that had gathered in her head, trying to forget the vivid images that taunt her.
It had seemed like the right thing to do. She had always hated settling, accepting that she had limitations, and even though it scared her she was proud that she pushed herself, tried new things and to hell with the fears and phobias! Or so she thought.
Her mind flips back, the slow grinding of the lift as it rose and rose, floor after floor before the doors slowly opened. She steps out and turns the corner, in front of her the floor to ceiling window revealing the distant horizon, building tops below peeking through the morning mist. She was on top of the world.
They were already there, her companions for this day, adrenalin junkies who seemed to exist on the edge of society, drifting from high to high. She nodded hello, found a space and started her preparations.
She checked and double checked her kit, triple checked it to be sure, pulling on each strap and buckle. There was little room for error today, the riskiest jump she’d tried, but she felt good, everything was as it should be. Her chute perfectly folded, her goggles snug, jumpsuit fastened tightly, helmet and camera ready to go. A last check by one of her jump buddies, thumbs up all round.
She paused and with a slow, deep breath fell into her ritual; studying her nerves as she looked out to the horizon, visualising her first jump, the fear she’d felt and the burst of adrenalin that stayed with her for the next few hours, the unadulterated joy as she landed back on earth.
A tap on the shoulder. Go time, and then she was at the edge, the wind buffeting her as it raced in through the open window, chute in hand. Go! And she was leaping out into nothing. The first few floors speed past, blinding reflections from office windows tracked her fall into the mist below.
Water droplets streamed across her goggles as she plummeted through the grey. Her jump was measured in seconds but with no frame of reference everything seemed to slow, she caught herself wondering if this is what death was like, an enduring, roaring nothingness. What was it like to die painlessly? she wondered. To slowly ebb and fade into the beyond, a quiet end to cacophony of life. She hated that thought, she’d rather go out screaming and screaming, her final voice confirming just how alive she was in those last moments, maybe it would happen on one of these jumps … with a sudden jolt she yanked herself from her daydream and checked her stopwatch.
The numbers screamed out at her.
TOO LATE TOO LATE TOO LATE!!
Panic hit, she flung her chute out too fast, too tight but it started to unfurl and she gasped hard as it caught, yanking her straps tighter. Still in cloud though, still falling too fast, she desperately searched for any sign of the ground below her.
Suddenly she broke through the cloud, the ground loomed up at her, still too fast. She glanced up to see her chute still not fully deployed. She tensed, adrenalin screaming through her system, she was slowing but not enough.
Still too fast. Still too damn fast.
On her second base jump she had watched someone else go through this, a chute delivered too late, not catching properly, a novice who seconds later made a sickening impact with the earth. Six feet under.
And now as she fell, time seemed to slow as she tumbled and spun out of control towards the ground. She could see every detail, each rain drop that surrounded her, hear every car horn and siren of the busy city. Soon thoughts of friends and family flooded her view. Tears formed and flooded her view.
The ground readied to meet her.
She remembers wondering what her final noise would be. Such grotesque.
Back in her kitchen, she snaps back to reality with a twitch of her leg, the one that had taken the brunt of the remaining fall after the chute finally caught in the last few feet of her descent.
Standing there in front of her sink, all odd socks and unkempt clothes, she takes a deep breath, shakes her head and takes the first plate in the pile. She dips it in the hot soapy water, scrubs it clean then reaches over to place it on the draining board.
The edge of the plate catches on the side of the sink and was slips free. Time freezes and everything else disappears as she stands transfixed, watching the plate spun and tumble to the floor, the pattern glinting and gleaming as the sunlight catches each surface in turn.
She drops her head and the tears fall like rain to the sink below.