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Today’s fiction is in honour of this

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Emily stood at the top of the abseiling tower and peered over the edge.  She clutched at the rope running from her harness to the attachments in the roof and swallowed.  The ground seemed a long way down.  Why had she agreed to this?

She looked over at Susan.  The seven year old was grinning like a maniac, practically bouncing on her toes as she looked down at all of her friends.  Her harness, as tight and secure as Emily’s own, she was sure, was carefully arranged so that you could see her uniform beneath. 

“Are you ready?”

Emily and Susan looked at the instructors and then at each other.

“As I’ll ever be,” replied Emily.  She patted her pocket and winced as she pricked her finger on the open end of Susan’s new badge.  “Are you ready, Susan?”

“Yes!”

Together, they backed up to the edge of the tower, leaned back, and let the ropes take their weight.  Emily swallowed again, suddenly aware of how thin the rope looked.  She began to shuffle her feet, walking backwards down the side of the tower.  Beside her, Susan was bouncing, bending her legs and jumping in giant steps.  Emily shuddered.  Half way down, they stopped.

Emily glanced up at the instructors and saw that they were tieing off the ropes.  Satisfied that they wouldn’t be plummeting to their doom in the middle of a sentence, she turned her attention to the girl beside her.

“Susan,” she began, “you’ve been coming to Brownies for a while now, and you’ve decided that you’re ready to make your Promise.  Do you understand that once you’ve made this Promise, you must do your best to keep it, everywhere, every day, for the rest of your life?”

As she spoke the familiar words, she felt herself calming.  As long as she focused on what they were doing, and not where they were, she thought she could do this.

Susan nodded.

“Ok, then please make the Brownie sign, and make your Promise.  Nice and loud,” she added, “so everyone can hear you!”

Emily pried her right hand from the rope and held it by her head, three fingers raised towards the sky.  Susan did the same.  The child took a deep breath, and then recited loudly.

“I Promise that I will do my best,
To be true to myself and develop my beliefs,
To serve the Queen and my community,
To help other people,
And to keep the Brownie Guide Law.”

Emily smiled widely.  “Well done!”  She carefully switched her hands on the rope and held out her left hand to her newest Brownie.  Susan grabbed her hand and dragged herself closer, then held on to Emily’s harness while she fished out the Promise badge and pinned it on to her uniform.

Once they were done, they separated again and Emily shouted up at the instructors to let them down.

As the ropes began flowing again, Emily started to lower herself down the tower.  She glanced down at Susan, bouncing again and now far below her.  Feeling slightly silly, she took a deep breath and bent her knees before jumping out into space.  Just a little.

At the bottom, she placed her feet on solid ground and took a moment to enjoy the feeling.  Unscrewing her carabiner with trembling fingers she left the rope to dangle and helped Susan with hers.  Susan grinned up at her.

“You’re the best, Brown Owl.  I’m going to remember this for ever!

Oh right, thought Emily, that’s why.

 

The Author

Nicola Higgins is a 30-something martial artist who runs two Brownie packs and works full time. She somehow still finds time to write.

Her favourite genres are near-future and alternate world science fiction and fantasy.

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