I decided to write a super short story about the peer pressure and coming-of-age rituals of young boys. Please let me know what you think.
“Just jump! Go on, do it!”
I hear the voice somewhere in the back of my mind, but I’m frozen with fear. I want to jump, but some part of me just can’t force myself to do it. To jump.
I hear laughter. I look back slowly, careful not to step any closer to the edge. The other boys are laughing at me, taunting me. I feel rage building inside and embarrassment, but I still can’t do it. I can’t jump over The Gap.
I’ve heard The Gap calling my name since I was eleven. It’s a rite of passage where I come from, and those are important. My sleepy little Midwestern town doesn’t have much other than rites of passage and traditions. So this one is important.
When you turn thirteen, you have to jump The Gap.
It’s just how it works. I was there when my older brother did it two years ago. He walked right up to it and bounded to the other side. No fear. No cares. I’ve watched other boys do it too. The girls don’t do it. They think we’re stupid for risking our lives. So, we’ve decided that they are just too scared.
It’s only three feet across. The Gap. It’s this little crack in the ground that someone told me was caused when an old well dried up. It’s three feet from one side to the other, but it’s twenty feet deep. At least that’s what we guess. It’s so dark down there, and no one has ever really measured. So we say it’s twenty feet. It could be deeper, though.
The Gap. I don’t know who named it, but it fits. The name is so simple, but it conveys a sense of terror to us. Every boy in town speaks about it with a sense of reverence that we don’t even feel at church. This hole in the ground is sacred to us. You can’t be a man until you jump over The Gap.
But, I can’t do it. The fear is too strong. I can already feel myself falling farther and farther into this hole, the darkness growing.
My eyes are locked on The Gap, but I hear my friends jeering behind me. They call me names. They say I’m a big baby. Do I still wear diapers? Do I suck my thumb? They say I’m a loser. I can picture them holding their thumbs and forefingers over their foreheads at a right angle, forming an L.
Then I hear it.
“You’re a girl!”
My blood boils. I’m not a girl. Fear or no fear, I must prove them wrong. I must become a man!
I take three steps back and the boys behind me fall silent. I hesitate for just a second, and then I run, planting my foot just inside the edge.
And I jump.