Catie’s freakish flexibility stunned everyone. During a spontaneous beach yoga class she popped a bird-of-paradise like she was crossing her legs. Like, can’t everyone do this?
Who could’ve known her flexibility would be related to her demise? That, and her fearlessness.
Always down for a thrill, the idea of skydiving lit Catie up. Never mind she’d dislocated nearly every major joint in her body: both shoulders, both hips, both knees, both ankles, an elbow, and a rib. How does one dislocate a rib, you ask? Very, very stubbornly, and by beating one’s boyfriend at arm wrestling.
But male friends were the farthest thing from Catie’s mind as she and her dad were jostled by the air turbulence tossing the Cessna 182. Skydiving had been on Catie’s to-conquer list, and she’d convinced her dad to do it with her. Dad had been acting strangely for several days. She chalked his angst up to cold feet. They were both nervous, especially given Catie’s propensity for injury.
“You change your mind?” she shouted to be heard above the engines.
“Maybe,” James cupped his hand so she could hear him better. “I feel like I have to tell you something really big.”
“And you chose now?”
“It’s important. I’ve been working up the nerve. I thought I could keep it a secret, but all your dislocated joints…”
“They don’t bother me.”
“I know. Pain doesn’t slow you down, tough girl. Superhero. That’s a truer statement than you realize.”
The pilot gave the okay. They’d reached 10,000 feet. Catie unbuckled.
James stayed her with his hand.
“Dad. Later. We’re jumping.”
“Catie, I’m serious about this. You have to know before you jump.”
Catie stood at the edge, about to fly.
“Don’t. do. it.” James warned.
“I’m not your father, not by blood.”
She stared, wide-eyed.
“Elijah Price is your real father. Your mother and I took you– we rescued you from him– because we couldn’t imagine a villain like him raising you. You were the sweetest, most beautiful baby. We wanted to give you a chance to be good, and you’ve surpassed our wildest dreams. I’m sorry I waited until now to tell you. But I think if you jump out of this plane, you’ll break every bone in your body. You’ll be splintered.”
“Mr. Glass. I’m his daughter?”
“He’s Black. I’m white. You’re full of it, Dad.”
“Don’t jump, Catie. I’m afraid it’ll be the last thing you do.”
“And my flexibility. Who’s my mother– Elastigirl?”
James averted her gaze. “She wasn’t always with Mr. Incredible. She had a wild youth.”
“No, Dad. You just don’t want me to jump out of this plane, so you’re making this up.”
James waved away Catie’s dismay. “Look, the point is, you got the short end of both gene pools: Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. That’s why you have very loose joints. The only reason your skin doesn’t tear easily is because of–well, that’s why we think your mother had to be Elastigirl.”
Catie shook her head. “Not buying it.” And out of the Cessna, she went.
James tried to grab her arm, but he wasn’t quick enough.
Catie put her arms out as she’d been instructed. Normally, on a first dive, you went tandem. That meant a professional basically had you strapped to his belly like you were an infant. Catie realized mid-air: why didn’t any professional jumpers accompany them? Why just the two of them and the pilot? A Black pilot, she realized, and even in the aviators, he looked familiar. She had brushed it off, too focused on the jump.
Not surprisingly, the ripcord didn’t work.
Dad, who had followed her out, was above her. His chute didn’t open, either.
Her only consolation was that death would be instantaneous for both of them. From above, in the Cessna, it had to be her imagination, the cackle of Mr. Glass, the words: “Oh, the sacrifices a father has to make.”
True: Catie DID dislocate every major joint in her body. I lifted that right out of my survey, word for word. Yikes! She’s a tough cookie.
Also true: Catie and her dad jump out of airplanes. 😮
Also, also true: Catie is freakishly flexible. And wonderfully sweet. She works in Germany, counseling soldiers stationed there and sharing her faith.
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