Ellie pulled up to the corner of 82nd and Third Avenue in a red BMW convertible and screeched to a halt as a gust of hot summer wind blew her silky espresso hair around her face. Hannah slid in beside her, and Ellie gave her a deep, searching kiss.
"So where are you taking me in this cunt snatcher?"
"C’est une surprise." Ellie answered, smiling facetiously.
Over two hours later, having taken Exit 17 on the New York Thruway and driven a good 20 miles past New Paltz, Hannah's patience was wearing thin. "We're almost there," Ellie said with her you'll be so pleased when you find out grin that now irritated Hannah. They drove up a graveled road and approached a sprawling airplane hanger with a bright red helicopter and two blue twin-engined Otters parked outside.
"You can’t be serious!" Hannah said as a man and a woman, mid-twenties and dressed in flight suits, approached them.
"So this is your new BFSF," the woman said to Ellie with an approving smile.
"Hannah, this is Katie and Joe." Ellie said.
"Pleased to meet you," Hannah said straining for composure.
"Here's the form you need to fill out before we go." Katie said, handing it to Hannah. "Don’t forget to provide an emergency number."
"Emergency number?" Hannah said, glancing nervously at Ellie.
"Ellie, why don't you give Hannah a tour of the facilities." Katie tactfully suggested, retreating to the airplane hanger with Joe.
"Have you lost your fucking mind!?" Hannah hissed.
"You'll love it, I promise. I've made hundreds of jumps and it's perfectly safe."
"Then why do they need an emergency number?"
"It's just a formality, Hannah. You'll never know how mind blowing this is if you don’t try it."
"It would also be mind blowing to jump off the the Verrazano bridge, but I've managed to live without the experience. Why do you want me to do this with you?"
Ellie kissed Hannah earnestly on the lips. "I love when you ask questions like that. It's the rebellious Hannah you never succeed in hiding. I want her to fly unshackled with me."
"Ellie, that's beautifully said, but why skydiving?"
"It's the fear that comes with it. I need to conquer it."
"Sometimes you should listen to your fear."
"Hannah, I'll just die if you don't jump with me."
There were three other couples in the rumbling Otter that taxied slowly to the end of the two lane runway. Hannah leaned back against Ellie, securely attached to her in a tandem harness. She looked around at the others and realized she was the only one on the plane whose legs were shaking uncontrollably. Ellie wrapped her arms around Hannah snugly. "You're so brave!" she shouted in her ear. By the time the plane gained altitude, Hannah's legs had stopped shaking. "We’re at 13,500 feet," the jump master announced on a megaphone. "Each couple stand in the door and jump at my signal."
Hannah’s heart leaped to her throat as she somersaulted out of the plane with Ellie glued to her back. Then a small stabilizing chute popped out of Ellie's back pack that righted their free fall. The land below appeared as a dreamy far off haze of blue, green and saffron. Ellie grabbed Hannah's hands and spread her arms under hers. "I am joyful flying with you!" she shouted. Hannah, feeling suddenly exuberant, squeezed Ellie's hands. "Me too!" she shouted back. A minute later the main chute popped open slowing their decent. A few minutes after that they tiptoed like dancers onto a grassy stretch of landing zone laid out like a welcoming carpet, skated on their heels and landed gently on their butts.
Hannah turned to Ellie as she unhooked the tandem straps and kissed her fiercely on the lips. "I did it!"
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