Most Memorable Moment at JSU
The following essay is the winning entry in the JSU News Bureau's
recent Nonfiction Writing Contest, co-sponsored and assisted by
the JSU Writers Club. Jessica is a sophomore majoring in communication
with a concentration in print journalism. She is minoring in creative
writing and is from Fort Bragg, N.C.
The News Bureau and Writers Club appreciate the work of writing
contest judges from the Department of English: Dr. Pitt Harding,
Dr. Julia Wooster, and Dr. Randall Davis.
Essays from runners-up will be published on the Newswire and JSU
Digest over the next several days.
By Jessica Summe
a dumb idea.
Don't get me wrong,
it's a gorgeous fall day, all cool and crisp and sunny.
It's just the hanging
upside down at eighty feet that I'm not so crazy about. The crowd below
me doesn't seem so fond of it either. Already, shouts of 'don't fall'
and 'be careful' are winding their way up to me. I distantly see one
little girl with her little hands over her mouth, her eyes just about
popping out of her head.
She's awfully far
"You okay, Summe?"
"Not really," I
whisper, but I don't think they heard me.
I glance up and
there they are, a little row of camo-covered ducklings peering at me
from underneath their Kevlars. Well, except the captain. In no way does
he resemble a duckling. His face is like stone. If I fall and crack
my skull open, it's a load of paperwork for him. But I'm not going to
fall. My hands are clenched so tight around these ropes. Falling is
not the plan right now.
Of course, slipping
wasn't in the plan either, and somehow I managed to do that first thing.
Doesn't look like
I'm going to be pulled up to safety, either. This is ROTC. This is the
army. This is the high dive or the sky dive or the ski slope. Only one
"Stand up, Summe."
Just to clarify,
let me describe my current position. I'm hanging upside down against
the outside wall of the JSU football stadium. Not completely upside
down my legs are tucked up under me so that the soles of my feet
are against my butt. See, the way you're supposed to do this is to stand
on the ledge, and then take one step back and down so you're standing
on the side of the stadium, horizontal to the ground. Then you're supposed
to push off with your legs and repel down to the ground, where the attendees
of JSU's Family Day congratulate you and inquire about the ROTC program.
Oh, wonderful. My
friend is taking pictures of this for my parents. Just like I asked.
"Summe, can you
I wasn't supposed
to be here in the first place. I was just going to do the practice jumps
off of the ranger tower, which is smaller and has an angled wall instead
of an empty drop-off. But then I found out no girls were going to do
the exhibition in the afternoon for Family Day, so I volunteered. Despite
my fear of heights. And falling. I mean, I'm scared of riding in elevators.
What was I thinking?
Sometimes my skewed
notions of feminism get ahead of me.
"Stand UP, Summe."
A little chorus
of encouragement from the boys follows the captain's order. You can
do it, don't worry about it, come on, only one way down.
Stand up. Got it.
I somehow manage
to wiggle my legs out from under me and lean out a bit to put my feet
against the wall. It makes my legs complain a bit, but then I've managed
to push myself up and out so that I'm standing on the wall, horizontal
to the ground. I'm a little lower on the wall than I should be (the
drop-off is about a foot below me instead of the three feet or so I
should have) but that's all right. I rearrange my hands, which are awfully
sweaty and cramped, and glance behind me, preparing to jump.
And I freeze.
You know, this is
really high up. Somewhere, my mind starts babbling about vomiting and
really long ladders. The captain's talking at me, but I don't hear a
That little girl's
still down there, though.
She looks awfully
I fling my right
hand back, let the rope burn through my left, and fly down to reassure