The incline is fierce. She spreads out her arms, wide as wings, laughs, and hugs herself before jumping. When she does, she looks like an ice skater twisting, albeit one wrapped in a green duffle coat.
She’s tumbling now, faster and faster, a rolling cyclone, gathering goose grass and sheep droppings caught in the exuberant inevitability of gravity.
Everyone above holds their breath, waiting to see if the fall will kill her.
At the bottom, she is still – one, two, guilt-ridden seconds, then rises, waits for the world to re-centre itself around her axis, laughs with giddiness and raises her arms in triumph.
‘Your turn!’ she calls.
But the boy in the neon trainers is already nearing the stile, running fast, and he won’t be back. We point and make jibes, as we will for the rest of his life. She’ll always be the hero of the secret story, talked of in hushed whispers from this day forth.
I look at my sister’s laughing eyes, note her grazed knees and see the strange determination that envelops her, and is even now emanating from her in waves, and wonder, my heart beating fast, half for her and half for him: would I have done the same?