Early mornings are best, just
after dawn when the only creatures awake are the birds. A mist rises
from the river, nearly shrouding the sea of leaves rolling across the
gorge. I can think then. Think without having to compete with Mama’s
chattering or the constant blare of cooking shows.
The breeze curls around me,
bringing with it the sweet scent of pine mixed with new growth and
decay. Scents I’ve known since childhood. Moving slowly, as if I’m
still the gymnast crossing the beam, I walk to the end of the sandstone
arch known as Sky Bridge and bend backward. My hair pours to the ground
like water over Yahoo Falls, but my hands land on gritty rock. Pointing
my toes, I kick off into a back walkover and flip to my feet. A tangle
of chirps erupts from the trees.
“Girl, you’re crazy.” From the
middle of the arch, Joley peeks over the edge to remind me that we’re a
couple of dozen feet above ground. Though I’d love to continue the
routine, I settle beside her and let my gaze wander across the canopy
shielding the deep ravines of the Red River Gorge.
“That’s probably the last time
I’ll be able to do that. After Memorial Day, tourists’ll be crawling
all over the place, and the fall semester starts before they clear
out.” Which irritates me, since I can’t even hike unmarked trails
without running into them.
Joley crosses her legs, tucking
her toes beneath her thighs. “That’s true, but it’s stupid to take
chances before graduation.”