Flying and Falling

Updated on August 2, 2017
Elyse Thomas profile image

Elyse is a middle school teacher. She enjoys traveling, reading, writing and obsessing over her dog, Copper, who is totally amazing.

The first thing I learned in Kindergarten was that playground equipment was twice as fun when used improperly. Sliding poles were for those who could shimmy up them, as were slides, though the playground at St. John’s Catholic School, inexplicably, came without one. The monkey bars, too, were for balancing on top of until gravity delivered justice and the jungle gym was only ever used to hide beneath like a fort. My favorite, however, were the swings. If you swung high enough you could let go and sail high over the woodchips before crashing to the ground. The trick was do this while the nuns were busy scowling towards the other end of the playground, keeping the roughhousing, and all else leading to laughter, fun, and the fiery gates of hell, at bay. Mary swung beside me, tightly clutching the chains holding up the swing.

Mary was the first kid I met in my class and was therefore my best friend. She was a tomboy with perpetually scraped knees and her long, brown hair was always tangled into a ponytail. I was jealous. My mother was often made hysterical by the comb-rejecting snarls in my thick, straw-blonde hair and would therefore never let me grow it much longer than just past my chin. My petty jealousy, however, never stopped our friendship. I would go over to her house every Saturday, it seemed, and her mother, made alternately giddy and depressed by her recent divorce, would make us chocolate chip waffles. Mary also had a bunny that would growl and bite you if you weren’t careful to pet it from behind and the adventures surrounding this was enough to build a friendship that was inseparable.

“You ready?” I asked. Mary nodded a little hesitantly, always half afraid of this game, and we pumped our legs as hard as we could until our swings carried us up into the sunshine. The motion pushed and pulled and the wind rushed to meet me like a friend. I was, as I would learn later in a third grade vocabulary quiz, exhilarated.

“GO!” I yelled, forgetting caution in my excitement and leaping, free, from my swing. At the peak of my jump, I hovered for that fraction of a second before the fall. In that moment, I had, as always, the bound of my heart as I thought that maybe this time I had broken whatever held me to the ground. As I hit the woodchips, I staggered slightly, but regained my balance, lifting my arms to the sky in the pose I had learned from gymnastics as a shrill whistle suddenly split the sky.

Horror struck my soul as I turned to see Sister Josephina stomping toward me with all the wrath of the Old Testament. I turned to look at Mary in terror to find that she was nowhere behind me but had run in fear. I stood alone and gazed up at the dark robed figure, watching the flowing habit quiver with rage. St. John’s lacked air conditioning and computers and, one year, an entire fifth grade due to the inability to pay another teacher. What the small elementary didn’t lack, however, was a holy passion for obedience. This nun in particular was rumored to use her ruler to measure out justice, though no one was really sure. It seemed that I would be the one to find out.

I looked back and saw Mary hiding behind the oak tree, and wondered if she felt sorry. I was a naïve girl, and hadn’t expected to face St. Peter alone, but I was to realize later that expectation alone was a sin. Locked in Sister Josephina’s dry, wrinkled grasp, we walked from the site of the betrayal, and I suddenly knew that some people would just stand back and watch me fall.

Questions & Answers

    © 2017 Elyse Maupin-Thomas


      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment
      • Sharbear38 profile image


        18 months ago from Ohio

        Love it. I write flash fiction myself glad to see some published. Loved your story.

      • profile image

        Suzanne Maupin 

        18 months ago

        Whoa - an unexpected and thought-provoking last sentence. I love this piece.


      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

      Show Details
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)