The others are staring at me. They are completely still.
It’s pin-drop quiet. I can’t feel my body.
I hear a crunching sound on a loop in my head.
For a moment, I think I’m hovering in the air.
Then it hits me. I’ve lost control.
I’ve fallen six meters straight down after a failed triple back somersault, and I’ve landed smack on my head.
That crunching is the sound of my neck vertebrae coming apart. I have broken my fourth and fifth cervical vertebrae and am paralysed from the neck down.
I am 21 years old.
A professional acrobat.
That is who I am, what matters most in my life.
Is this how it ends?
The initial period after is all about step by step, joint by joint, about reconquering the body. Being able to eat, pee, walk, about that tingling sensation when the body once again makes contact with its toes…But fairly soon the idea of reviving the jump pops up.
I decide to attempt the jump one more time, ten years after the accident. It takes me twelve years to get here.
In my head, I’ve gone through the jump a thousand times:
I’m going to disconnect the safety line, step onto the board, find my balance, pull the quick-release and time the jump for exactly when the sack hits the board and launches me upward.