Without a Net

Adriana stretched out her left leg until her big toe lined up with the taught braided rope.  She always did her routine barefoot, the coarse fibers of the rope reassuring against her calloused feet.  She knew other acts who used a nylon wire, but she preferred the scratchy thickness of it.

She kicked off from the platform, end over end.  She cartwheeled down the line as the audience gasped, her arms taking hold halfway across, swinging her legs above her into a handstand.

“Look Ma, no hands!”  When she was ten Adriana rode her bicycle down the drive, thrilled at her achievement.

“Adri!” her mother shrieked.  “Cuidado!  You’ll fall!”

It was her scream that caused Adriana to lose her balance, but Mama said it was inevitable.

She exhaled and raised one hand off the rope, balancing on only one point.

The key, she knew, was never to doubt yourself.

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