Click Selection

Search News Releases:

News Resources
on the Web

21 April 2005

My Most Memorable Moment at JSU

Editor's Note:

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

This was 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 away.

"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 way down.

"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 hear me?"

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 word.

That little girl's still down there, though.

She looks awfully worried.

I fling my right hand back, let the rope burn through my left, and fly down to reassure her.