PS. Make sure you enter the giveway! *points down* it’s at the bottom of the post. 😉
By Susan Wiggs
Logan O’Donnell stood on a platform one hundred feet in the air, preparing to shove his ten-year-old son off the edge. A light breeze shimmered through the canopy of trees, scattering leaves on the forest floor far below. A zip line cable, slender as a thread in a spider’s web, hung between the tree platforms, waiting. Below, Meerskill Falls crashed down a rocky gorge.
“There’s no way I’m going off this.” Logan’s son, Charlie, drew his shoulders up until they practically touched the edge of his helmet.
“Come on,” Logan said. “You told me you’d do it. The other kids had a ball. They’re all waiting for you on the other side, and I heard a rumor about a bag of Cheetos being passed around.”
“I changed my mind.” Charlie set his jaw in a way that was all too familiar to Logan. “No way. No W-A-Y-F.”
Logan knew the shtick, but he went along with it. “There’s no F in way, dude.”
“That’s right. There’s no effin’ way I’m going off this thing.”
“Aw, Charlie. It’s almost like flying. You like to fly, right?” Of course he did. Charlie’s stepfather was a pilot, after all. Logan crushed the thought. There were few things more depressing than thinking about the fact that your kid had a stepfather, even if the stepfather was an okay guy. Fortunately for Charlie, he’d ended up with a good one. But it was still depressing.
Charlie spent every summer with Logan. During the school year, he lived with his mom and stepfather in Oklahoma, a million miles away from Logan’s home in upstate New York. It sucked, living that far from his kid. Being without Charlie was like missing a limb.
When he did have his son with him, Logan tried to make the most of their time together. He planned the entire season around Charlie, and that included working as a volunteer counselor at Camp Kioga, helping out with the summer program for local kids and inner-city kids on scholarship. The zip line over Meerskill Falls was a new installation, and had already become everyone’s favorite feature. Nearly everyone.
“Hey, it’s the last day of camp. Your last chance to try the zip line.”
Charlie dragged in a shaky breath. He eyed the harness, made of stout webbing and metal buckles. “It looked really fun until I started thinking about actually doing it.”
“Remember how you used to be scared to jump off the dock into Willow Lake? And then you did it and it was awesome.”
“Hel-Zo. The landing was a lot different,” Charlie pointed out.
“You’re going to love it. Trust me on this.” Logan patted the top of Charlie’s helmet. “Look at all the safety features on this thing. The harness, the clips, the secondary ropes. There’s not one thing that can go wrong.”
“Yo, Charlie,” shouted a kid on the opposite platform. “Go for it!”
The encouragement came from Andre, Charlie’s best friend. The two had been inseparable all summer long, and if anyone could talk Charlie into something, it was Andre. He was one of the city kids in the program. He lived in a low-income project in the Bronx, and for Andre, it had been a summer of firsts—his first train trip, his first visit upstate to Ulster County, where Camp Kioga nestled on the north shore of Willow Lake. His first time to sleep in a cabin, see wildlife up close, swim and paddle in a pristine lake…and tell ghost stories around a campfire with his buddies. Logan liked the fact that at camp, all the kids were equal, no matter what their background.
“I kind of want to do it,” Charlie said.
“Up to you, buddy. You saw how it’s done. You just stand on the edge and take one step forward.”