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Pebbles

What do u want your memories to be?

I was stopping through Portugal for a few days on the way home from a “Backpacking” trip through the Basque Country, and a friend decided to take me to an island right off the coast. The island itself seemed to be a common tourist destination, as there were people from all over the world getting off boats and swimming around the dock, and there was a place you could hike to that hosted thousands of seagull nests, but along the southern edge of the island was an old fort and a stone bridge that stood about 25 feet off the water. Now, there was this girl I had a thing for with us, and when she saw people jumping off of it, she asked if anyone else would do it. Of course I would!

I have a dreadful fear of heights.

So I got up on top of this bridge and stood there for maybe 45 minutes, just staring off the edge, trying to get myself to jump. People from every corner of the globe would come up, cheer me on, and then leave disappointed. The girl wasn’t even really paying attention to me anymore, but the struggle had become much more than that for me. I was going to cure this fear, damnit!

Well, just as I was about to give up, an old man came along who, swear to god, was the living, breathing embodiment of Ernest Hemingway. He had the beard, the serious look, the belly… were it not for his Portuguese accent, he could have easily passed for Hemingway. “I do not believe you are going to jump.” I was baffled. Everyone up to that point had told me I could do it. “What?” “You won’t. Here.” He reached down and plucked this old pebble off the bridge. “Keep this. You’ll look at it and remember the day you didn’t jump.” I took the pebble from him and looked at it. He shook his head at me. And then, I don’t even know what came over me, I just shouted, “Fuck that!” and threw it at the water. As I jumped from the bridge, he was still laughing in this deep, jolly tone. Long story short, another man who had been watching the entire time helped pull me out of the water and offered to buy me a beer, but as I was standing there, with all of what had just happened sinking in, Hemingway came down the steps to the water’s edge and handed me another rock. “You’ll remember this one as the day you jumped.”

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