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Jump Higher

“Write a story about your journey from the beach house to One Minute South” Jackee instructed. I sat at the back of the class because I had always found it easier to listen if my eyes could focus better. But, now, with this new instruction from Jackee, the back of the class presented more distractions than enabling me to focus. I watched some of the eager students like Maria and Leah sneakily start their stories and I saw how Sharon and Catherine became suddenly overwhelmed at this writing task. Their shoulders sagged and they seemed to have zoned out just like I had. Jackee was saying something about starting the task later but I had already started in my head. Sitting next to the door, I could feel the cool breeze from the water down below. I wondered how I would start the story, how would I end it, would it be long? Jackee was saying something about including smells, sounds and sounds, which I immediately incorporated into my story. Later in the day, I finally typed out my story:

    Fine brown dust greeted Anna’s feet as she stepped down from the high Land-Rover car doors. “Eeww!” Sand would have been better even though she hated sand but this disgusting brown dirt just ruined her red toenail glow. She stared at the bushy, swampy and cobweb filled environment around her and decided that, despite the names of the premises, this place should simply be called Ggaba Landing site and not The Beach House. “It’s not even close to a beach house. The House has an apartment like structure that judging from it’s dirt stained white walls and overgrown bougainvillea it may actually be the bar mans house or belongs simply to some sad old family who have lived here for years.” She thought.

I don’t know why I referred to myself as Anna in the story. It felt cool to refer to myself in third person and change my name but then I wondered if I had misunderstood Jackee’s instructions. Was this to be a true story? Was I to stick to the actual facts of the journey? But I didn’t want to. Maybe this was part of the writing experience. I wondered what the other ladies were writing. Was there a word limit? I didn’t care I just kept writing. Zahara, our retreat photographer, found my puzzled writing face humorous and so she positioned herself strategically in front of me to catch all my writing faces. She would just sit and wait till I made a face.

I couldn’t end my story. I’ve admired writers for their ability to end their stories and leave me feeling hopelessly in love or cursing a character and their decisions. I also knew that I wanted to leave my audience hanging and begging for more without trying so hard but my muse was fading out fast. I had taken about five cups of tea, a bowl of popcorn, a cup cake, and cup of water and nothing was working. I figured that the magnificent island was missing me and I should go hug her. So I did just that. Laptop aside. Notebook closed. Out to the beach. It was dusk, one of my favorite times of the day. The sun was resting her tired legs over the lake victoria and the water was washing up onto shore in steady rhythmic waves. I found Zahara and Lynn trying to take silhouettes at the pier. Actually, I found them arguing about how Lynn should be bold and jump higher on the pier. Zahara with one of those complicated, weighing a ton camera around her neck was shouting, gesturing and stomping her little feet to a shrieking Lynn. I watched amused. The pier wasn’t high so I ruled out Lynn being afraid of heights. It was about a meter and half wide so I ruled off the possibility of her falling off.

“LYNN WHY DON’T YOU JUST JUMP?” I asked coming closer.

She looked at me as if I was the wife of the devil.

“ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I COULD FALL OFF. THERE ARE CRACKS ON THE BOARDS.” She responded as she found evidence for her worries.

Zahara rolled her eyes stomped off to a perfect picture taking spot and ordered me to show Lynn how the “professionals” do it. Filled the flattery from a professional photographer I boldly walked up onto the pier with all it’s cracks and sticking out nails and conjured the ballerina in me. I jumped till Lynn had no choice but to join me.