Avatar CatherineStory stories aren’t something I am good at.  In fact, I really do write bad short stories.  I just can’t quite grasp the briefness of them.  I have decided that perhaps I need to start small and work my way bigger.  This is a short piece (approximately 600 words) to start with.  Please tell me what you think; good, bad or otherwise, and any helpful tips you can think of.

Twisted tree


The Jumper

The smile faded on his face, and fast.  It was something he had not thought of until now.  Why now?  He didn’t know.  Someone had tried to explain it to him, but as he had made up his mind, he was not going to be persuaded not to… Until now.  Why hadn’t he thought it through a bit more?  He wasn’t a fly-by-seat-of-his-pants kind of guy, in fact, he wasn’t much of a man. 

 He had thought that this ‘leap of faith’ would be enough to impress Angela.  It had impressed him at the time.  She had smiled blandly and encouraged him, which had bolstered his confidence.  But his work colleagues were all surprised that he had made the decision.  They had tried to placate him, a couple explained what would happen.  He let them believe they had talked him out of it, but he hadn’t really heard what they were saying, and now, reality was setting in.

 He was standing on the precipice now, looking across the chasm.  It was too deep to look down, and he was scared he would chicken out if he did.  He gripped the rail in front of him so hard, his knuckles turned white and a couple of them audibly popped, much to the amusement of those behind him.  Nervous twittering told him that there were more here than he cared to think about.  He didn’t know if they were onlookers keen for a view of the carnage, or people there to provide him with support.  Either way, he felt sick with worry; he didn’t like being set apart, he preferred to be one of the crowd, now, standing on the edge he was on his own.  For once in his life, he was on his own and about to make a big decision.  To jump. 

 He tried to smile, to show he was confident, but all that he managed was a grimace.   There was a loud rushing sound and he realised it was his own breathing which had suddenly became shallow and the pounding he heard was his heart threatening to leap right out of his mouth.  He could feel it in his throat, ba-boom.  Ba-boom.  The thought of vomiting entered his head, but there wasn’t anything in his stomach, nerves had seen him eat little today.  His feet felt very heavy; his head began to spin and suddenly his head was heading towards his feet, except his feet were falling over his head and he was tumbling, falling. 

 His eyes snapped shut and he attempted to scream, a high pitched girly scream, something he had always prided himself that he would never do.  Unfortunately he did.  As he gained speed, he felt the wind whip past his face, fill his open mouth, forcing the scream back down his throat.  Adrenalin pumped through his body and was forced into his brain, trying to find ways out of the situation, but there were only two, up or down.  And he was already going down.

 The falling sensation came to a screaming halt as the wind was forced out of his lungs past his larynx and he was suddenly jerked backwards.  Now he knew he was not dreaming, this was real, he had been falling, he was now rebounding back upwards towards the platform he had fallen from.

 “Are you alright Mr Stewart?”  A voice drifted up from below him.  A vague awareness of the voice made him open his eyes; below him was a vessel in the water, a man calling out to him.  He attempted to nod, but thought his head would dislocate off his shoulders; he was upside down and bouncing around like one of those tight rubber balls that just keep rebounding off objects, except he was rebounding off air.

 “Mr Stewart?”  A question this time, still he found it hard to respond, he was too scared to speak.  He felt himself being lowered into the vessel, a smiling face peering into his own grim one.

 “How was that Mr Stewart?  Was that your first bungy jump?”

Short Story – the Jumper

2 thoughts on “Short Story – the Jumper

  • October 17, 2009 at 10:17 am

    There’s a lot of things I really like about this story. I liked that there’s so much hinted at about the character – the relationship with Angela and work colleagues, the sense of self-doubt and attempt to break out of the way he sees himself. I like the vivid descriptions of the fall and the anxious arc of emotions the protagonist goes through.

    My only uncertainty is with the end of the story. The last line felt like it was a classic ‘twist-in-the-tale’ ending (and to be fair I’m a little biased against twist stories) which didn’t quite work for me. I think that a bungy jump is one of the possibilities that reader first suspects whenever a character is about to jump in a story, and that was the case here.

    I’d be more interested in an ending which suggested how the experience has affected the character 🙂

  • October 17, 2009 at 11:01 am

    Debbie, thanks for that. I like twist in the tale stories, hence this one, but I like the idea of changing the ending to see how it affected Mr Stewart rather than making it obvious what he had done.

    This is what I mean about my short stories, I just seem to be too obvious!

    Thanks for the feedback.


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