They call it a near miss, but I call it a direct hit. Instantly upon impact I begin to fall backwards trying to turn right to catch myself. The bench is gone, I’m dropping and my arms violently flail. Legs are going skyward without any aide from me. My right arm grasps for anything. I need something, anything solid to help break my fall. A fruitless effort, there is nothing to grab. I must protect the back of my head from striking the unknown. There is no time to think, I’m reacting instinctively. My left hand, yes quickly, I must get it behind my head. Why does this feel like super slow motion? Is my heart beating or has it stopped? Impact is inevitable, but when? My arms are slicing into ice-cold water—feels like razors scraping across raw skin. The sun’s rays glistening off the water are blinding, I can’t focus—my eyes are squinting too much. Glistening droplets are everywhere I can’t see anything but the piercing shimmers off the water. Give in to it. Let it happen. My neck muscles are tightening, the wrenching pain is unbearable. Let it go. Take a quick breath. Yes, I must, a quick breath before it’s too late.
Down is now up. Billions of bubbles stream from each of my pores as I fall below the surface of the glacier like water. The pain is excruciating. I must breathe but I can’t. Which way is up? I must flip myself but my body is rigid from the chilling water. I must right myself. Push my legs down, spring for the surface, and straighten my body. My feet, yes, it must be the bottom—I’m standing. The taste and the comforting sensation of fresh air filling my lungs—it’s wonderful. My eyes are focusing. There is Billy, looking so smug. The fifth grader’s ball must have grazed the target and hit the center of my chest. A near miss turns into a direct hit—in either case, a dip in the dunk tank is my fate. Ah, the immeasurable rewards of being a teacher just can’t miss.
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