The Challenge—Use the following precisely as written, “Are you sure? It's a long way down."
Summary: John has to make a parental decision alone. Is it the right one or will he be sorry?
Disclaimer: The original characters are JMS’ and WB’s. Not done for money, please don’t sue me.
Rating- teen and up for one possible cuss word
Author: Lynda Mayfield
Title: Letting Go
"Are you sure? It's a long way down."
"I'm sure, Dad. I'm the only one who can do it," David pleaded.
John looked around to the Rangers but none of them were close enough to hear the conversation. Everyone knew the situation was dire. John nodded, "All right. I'll be here the whole time."
"Thanks, Dad. I won't let you down." The nine-year-old turned to the Minbari with the harness, who had been awaiting the decision. John monitored from the distance as his son's straps were attached.
The situation was an accident, unforeseeable by anyone. David and his friend, Jadier, had gone with the Ranger bodyguards for some fun on snow-covered ice. They found an embankment that was not too far a walk. What they did not know, or see, was the crevice on the walk back up the hill. Jadier had simply disappeared from David's side.
The young Minbari was David's age. Jadier’s father was of the warrior caste and his mother, the religious. Three year’s earlier, Jadier’s father decided to transfer to the Rangers. When David and Jadier met at a Ranger family function, they had become fast friends. It was a relief for John that his son had a best friend. The youngster had many other friends, but no one with whom he was as close.
When John heard what happened, he had immediately left for the scene. Several worker caste Minbari, engineers, had also been alerted and were taking measurements, doing their best to rescue the youngster. Enlarging the hole had been out of the question, the embankment developed a long, horizontal crack that threatened to cave in, forever entombing Jadier.
The young Minbari had been in the hole for two hours. Blankets had been tossed down to him but he was still cold in the subfreezing temperatures. He was on an ice shelf, and it was beginning to crack, but the crack was still too small for him to fall through. As time passed, the danger increased.
John and David had been watching, off to the side. Delenn would have been there, too, had she not been offworld. She was also completely out of reach, something about a solar flare and some asteroids. On being approached by the Minbari workers for David's help, John had hesitated. The plan could fail, or something could further go wrong and they might lose both boys.
It was his son's determined voice that convinced John, so like Delenn's. Not a waver from the treble voice, just a promise. He knew he would have to cut the strings and let go of his son some day, but he wasn't counting on that day being today.
Twenty minutes after David's descent, there was no news, and John began to worry. He had to keep his distance for the stability of the ice. "Oh God," he groaned to any deity that might be listening, "Please. Please help him do this. Please keep both those boys safe."
He turned and waved over Ranger Mitch Baldwin. "Yes, sir?"
"Let me have your radio, would you? I don't know why I didn't think of that before."
"Of course, sir." Ranger Baldwin reconfigured his radio and set up the President, even though he was sure Sheridan could do it himself.
Finally, over the radio was heard, "We have them, repeat, we have them, both juveniles are above ground and on the safety zone."
John had seen the boys lifted out of the hole and it was hard as Hell not to move a muscle, crawling over the ice to get to his son. He wouldn't risk it, for all the need that was in him, he was going to make sure not to endanger anyone else. Followed closely by Ranger Baldwin, he made his way around the circumference of the ice to his son, thanking God the entire way.
"Hi, Dad. See? I did it." David smiled.
"Oh, you sure did. I am proud of you, " John hugged David to him. He saw Jadier being embraced by his parents, also, and hugged his son still tighter.
"I think I'm ready to go home." David said.
"Don't you want to say good night to Jadier?" John offered.
"I did. On the way up. We agreed though, he has to be with his parents tonight, same as I have got to be with you. Maybe we could have something good when we get home?" The boy asked.
"Ice cream." David began laughing at his father's expression as they walked back to the Compound hand in hand.