I chose to write the AC birthday challenge, so here it is...
Life Begins At Forty
They say life begins at forty, but in Kevin Richardson’s case, he’d already crammed more into those forty years than most people achieved in a whole lifetime. He’d travelled the world, followed his dreams and been a huge success, all before the age of thirty. So now, as his fortieth birthday approached, he wondered what new challenges lay ahead…
He was bored. And when Kevin was bored, he was miserable. Turning forty was not something he was looking forward to, he didn’t want to get old. He didn’t feel any older than he had felt at the age of twenty five, except there were a few lines forming on his once perfectly smooth face and crinkles in the corners of his eyes when he now smiled. They didn’t bother him too much though; he certainly wasn’t going to go down the surgery route.
As turning forty is considered one of those milestone birthdays, Kevin decided to do something he wouldn’t ordinarily do – he wanted to celebrate his birthday doing something just for himself. No family or friends…just him. He realised they would want to do something for him, after all, it’s not every day you turn forty, but on his actual birthday he wanted to do things his way.
And so he did.
Call it a midlife crisis, foolish, idiotic, or whatever else you want, but Kevin’s choice of birthday activity was not for the faint hearted. After lengthy research on his laptop one evening, he came up with the idea to base jump. He’d seen it on TV and cringed at times when the jumper would take a leap off a particularly terrifying looking building or object, but that was the reason behind his decision, he was pushing his limits and going to go beyond his comfort zone. It’s not like he hadn’t done anything risky before either, he’d been a contestant on Fear Factor a few years back (enough said), had taken part in a charity parachute jump and had even performed the odd bungee jump.
After making enquiries, he ascertained that he would be able to jump so long as he got a letter from his doctor to prove that he was up for it. It was lucky for Kevin that he was still in tip top physical condition and therefore his doctor had no qualms in producing a letter to verify it. He wasn’t known as ‘Mr Body Beautiful’ for nothing.
A week later and Kevin waved goodbye to his wife and kids and set off for Fayetteville, West Virginia where base jumping had become an annual event, attracting about 450 base jumpers and approximately 80,000 spectators. He could’ve taken his family with him, as no doubt many other jumpers did, but this was something he wanted to do for himself. And besides, if things went horribly wrong and he fell to his death, he didn’t want them to have to witness it. Instead he preferred to go it alone, so that no one could try and talk him out of it. It’s not as if he’d be lonely with the amount of people who would be there, and Kevin was an outgoing and friendly kind of person (when he wanted to be). He would hardly suffer from lack of company.
He’d been lucky to find a hotel at such short notice, this event pulled in such a huge crowd after all, but Kevin had managed it. He would’ve slept in his car if he’d had to, or pitched up his tent out in the open. He was determined he was going ahead with his birthday mission to jump off the New River Gorge Bridge along with hundreds of other adrenaline junkies.
“Shit, do I really want to do this?” he asked himself when he was in amongst the throngs of people, watching as jump after jump took place. He’d done other activities considered daring, but this was supposedly one of the most dangerous, with quite a high fatality rate. But it was also a once in a lifetime experience and besides, he figured life was for living and taking a risk every so often.
It may have looked like absolute chaos, but it was actually a very well organised event. It had to be considering lives were at risk if the correct procedures weren’t followed. This helped Kevin’s nerves and was the deciding factor in convincing him that he was doing the right thing.
After a lengthy safety talk with the experts and a full explanation and tutorial in what to do, it was time for Kevin to take his place for the thrill of a lifetime. The experts were confident that Kevin knew what he was doing.
“Fuck me” he said and gulped audibly as he looked down below. If his parachute failed, at least he’d be dead upon impact and wouldn’t have chance to suffer. Not a pleasant thought, but one he had nonetheless.
“Ready?” he was asked.
“Ready” Kevin replied and gave the thumbs up sign. And then he positioned himself ready for his jump, muttered a quick prayer under his breath, and leapt.
The wind whipped his skin and he felt like he was flying, it was so exhilarating that nothing else compared to it. “Fuck yeah” he screamed out at the top of his lungs as he free fell towards land, only deploying his parachute at the last second. The parachute hoisted him back up into the air and he floated on the breeze down into the cold water below.
“Amazing…absolutely fucking amazing” he grinned from ear to ear as he waded out of the water onto dry land, where he was helped out of the gear by fellow jumpers and event staff.
“Really something ain’t it!” a surfer type guy with long hair replied, grinning just as brightly as Kevin “been coming for the last couple of years, but this year’s the best so far”
“My first time” Kevin replied, striking up a conversation with the twenty-something year old.
“And it won’t be your last!” he retorted.
Kevin was on a complete high for the rest of the day, watching other jumps and then ending the day with a few beers and something to eat with a bunch of other adrenaline seekers. When he arrived home the following day, he didn’t mind the big family party that was being organised in his honour to celebrate turning forty. That jump had been just the tonic Kevin needed to prove that he still had it. Maybe there was some truth to the old saying ‘life begins at forty’ after all.