JUST JUMP

“Jump already!” Max hollers from five feet away.

This was supposed to be date night. But, here I am, naked, hanging at least 15 feet over the edge of our town’s favorite skinny-dipping spot. My fingers grasp the railing tightly, nearly numb. I never should’ve agreed to this.

“What if the water isn’t deep enough, and I break my ankle? I can’t do this.”

“You have to. You chose ‘Dare.’ If you didn’t want to jump, you should’ve chosen ‘Truth.’”

“Okay. But, I thought you’d choose something silly like, ‘Eat a bug’ or ‘Squawk like a chicken.’ Not something so…dangerous. You know I hate heights.”

“You’ll be fine. Face your fears. Just make sure you miss the boat that’s coming. Would be a shame if you landed on it. Unless they have beer. That could be a boat worth landing on.”

“Ha, ha. You’re hilarious. It’s a paddleboat. Something tells me there’s not much of a party.”

“Hey, some raging parties come in small packages.” He laughs. I can’t see his face, but I’m almost positive he winked or stuck out his tongue. Probably both. In all the years we’ve been together, laughing at his own jokes while winking had been his signature move.

“Don’t I know it.” For a brief moment, I forget I’m hovering over this damn lake as I send that zinger his way. 

“Now you’re just asking to be pushed.” I can hear his voice getting closer. I squeeze my eyes shut, bracing for impact.

“You wouldn’t dare.” I can’t feel my fingers.

“I already dared once, didn’t I?” I can feel his breath on my bare back.

“If you push me, I am so withholding sex for a month.”

“Assuming you can even hold out that long.” He rests his hands next to mine on the railing. I allow my left index finger to find him.

“Is it too late to exchange my dare for a truth?” I ask, defeated.

His cheek brushes up against mine as he whispers into my ear, “Just know it won’t be an easy question.”

“That’s okay. Anything is better than jumping into this damn lake naked. Ask me anything.”

I feel him pull back from me, hear him clear his throat.

“Do you want to marry me?”

Once more, I forget I’m hanging over this damn lake, and bring my hands to my mouth in surprise.

Bad idea.

I try to grab on again, but it’s too late. Instead, I pull myself into a cannonball and splash into the lake.

“You okay?” I hear Max yell as I reemerge. He runs across the walking bridge and down the hill that leads to my watery grave. He’s got my clothes with him.

I swim to the edge of the lake, and he helps me the rest of the way out.

“So, was that a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’?” he asks with my favorite smile.

“That depends.”

“On…?”

“Dare me to?” I grab my clothes and run to the jeep.

Stephanie Lennon is a teacher and writer in Brooklyn, NY. She has had her work published online at BioStories, Ubiquitous Books, and Blind Corner. She is currently working on a middle-grade fantasy novel about a school for fairy tale narrators. You can find her on Twitter at @lennon_writes.

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