From Jungle to Jungle
By Abbie Johnson Taylor
“Mom, watch this!” my ten-year-old daughter Malissa cried, as she pulled herself to the highest bar of the jungle gym, then maneuvered her body so she was hanging upside down.
My heart in my mouth, my hand to my chest, I said, “Honey, please be careful.”
“Mom, I do this in gymnastics all the time.”
“Yes, but in gymnastics class, there are people around to spot you. Here at the park, there’s only me. I don’t know if I could catch you if you fall.”
A hand touched my shoulder. “Amy! I thought I’d find you two here.”
I turned to see Brian, the man I’d been having second thoughts about marrying, despite his tall, handsome, muscular physique and his great relationship with Malissa.
My daughter righted herself and swung to the ground, landing on her feet. “Bravo!” Brian cheered, as she smiled and bowed.
She hurried to him, and he hugged her. Then, ruffling her blond curls, he said, “I need to talk to your mom. Why don’t you go practice some more, okay?” Grinning, without another word, she rushed back to the jungle gym.
Turning to me, Brian said, “Hey, babe, I’ve got the perfect honeymoon for us.”
“Yeah, check this out.”
He pulled his phone from his pocket and handed it to me. With a sinking feeling, I scrolled through information about a safari in an African jungle. We would be hiking, observing wildlife, and sleeping in tents, and there would be no running water, electricity, or cell service.
Gazing into his excited face, I said, “Look, I don’t think this is going to work out. Yes, we like the same music and food. We have similar jobs, and we both love Malissa. But you know I’m not the outdoor type. I told you I went camping with my family when I was a teenager once and hated it. I’ll always love you, but you need a woman who’s outdoor experiences aren’t limited to going to the park with her ten-year-old daughter.”
He sobered. Taking my hand, he said, “Oh, honey, I’m sorry. I got carried away. We don’t have to do the African safari. We can do something else, okay?”
“Mom!” Malissa’s cry was more of fear than joy.
Turning to the jungle gym, I gaped in horror, as my daughter, having lost her grip on the bar, went hurtling through the air.
In one quick motion, Brian leaped forward and caught her. As he held her shaking body and soothed her, and she cried in his arms, I thought maybe a safari in Africa wasn’t such a bad idea.
Author’s Note: The above short story placed in a flash fiction contest sponsored by Wyoming Writers and was published in their newsletter. To learn more about this organization, which isn’t just for Wyoming residents, go to: https://wyomingwritersinc.wildapricot.org/
The idea for their contest was to use the term, “from jungle to jungle,” in a story of 500 words or less. I’ve never been much of a fan of jungle gyms or gymnastics, but those were the first things that popped into my head when I saw the prompt.
Abbie Johnson Taylor is the author of three novels, two poetry collections, and a memoir. Her work has appeared in The Weekly Avocet, The Writer’s Grapevine, and Magnets and Ladders. She has a BA in music and worked as a registered music therapist with nursing home residents for fifteen years before she started writing full-time. She’s visually impaired and lives in Sheridan, Wyoming, with her robotic cat Joy. Visit her website at: https://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com