This photo was taken off of the northeastern coast of Madagascar on the island of St. Marie. While watching a group of local children jump off the cliff into the crystal waters below, I was reminded of why I took my own leap to join the Peace Corps. Every day is a thrill navigating this very different culture and language as an American, and each risk that I take as a Community Health Educator and as a person is worth every second. Whenever I am feeling low, or unsure of the next move to make, I will remind myself that it is OK, just jump!
The salt of the water stung Will’s sinuses, burned its way down his throat when he tried to gasp. He still felt like he was falling, but now he was also drowning. He opened his eyes and they stung too, but he could see the dark form of Hannibal above him, around him, sinking down with him. Hannibal’s eyes were looking back, like black holes in a galaxy. His hands had moved to grip Will’s throat. It was tender and condemning, loving and final. Water filled Will’s mouth, and then so did Hannibal’s tongue.
He woke gasping and choking, trying to swallow down the salt burn in his throat.
“You fainted, Will,” Hannibal’s voice said from somewhere nearby, and it sounded amused, fond. “How very damsel in distress of you.”
It was blood running down his throat. Not salt water. The stars in the night sky stared down at him from above, and firm paved ground lay beneath him, not ocean. His face and shoulder were flooded with agony.
Will turned his head and saw Hannibal standing hunched near the cliff’s edge, bare-chested and bloodied in the moonlight. There was a gentle clink of metal, a soft hiss of pain, and then Hannibal’s form loomed above him, blotting out the stars.
“Where’d your shirt go?” Will’s voice was fluid-logged and slurry. He was still struggling to pull his mind out of the dream, the fantasy, of going off the cliff. Of sinking under the water. Under Hannibal. He hadn’t. They hadn’t.
Hannibal smiled, a red-wet flash in the darkness, his partial nakedness making him seem all the more primal, predatory. He reached down to grasp Will’s good arm. “Put to better use,” he said, and pulled Will dizzyingly upright. Will saw that Hannibal had folded the shirt up in a compact square and strapped it to his stomach wound by cinching his dress belt around his waist. Dots of blood were beginning to seep through the fabric. It matched the blood streaking across Hannibal’s mouth. His mouth would taste of it, just as Will’s did.
It wasn’t just the fall or the drowning that was twisting in Will’s brain. It was the feel, the power of Hannibal’s kiss, phantom though it was. It had all felt so real, as real as standing on solid ground and grasping Hannibal’s arm did now.
“We must leave.”
Clinging to Hannibal’s bare skin made him think about drowning again, about Hannibal’s tongue in his mouth and how it had felt more invasive that the water in his lungs. But no, that was all wrong. He didn’t drown, they didn’t fall, they hadn’t kissed. He’d thought about killing Hannibal, but he’d never thought about kissing Hannibal, before they’d killed together.
The water, the drowning. The kiss. This could be the dream. It felt less real, less right, than falling off the cliff.
Hannibal’s hands were suddenly cupping Will’s face, making Will look at him. “Will. You’ve done so well tonight. Now we must go.”
Their faces were so close together he could smell the blood on Hannibal’s breath. It was at once intoxicating and repulsive, and so similar to the dream still playing over in Will’s mind. Will knew what he had to do, then. To decide whether this was some kind of afterlife dreamstate, or reality. He reached up and cupped Hannibal’s blood-sticky cheek, drew him down so that his mouth covered Will’s own. Will felt Hannibal’s sharp intake of breath, a rare indication of surprise, and used that moment to invade Hannibal’s mouth just as had been done to him, underwater. Will was amazed to find that Hannibal allowed it, allowed Will to breach his defenses so easily. That wasn’t like the dream at all. It occurred to him that perhaps Hannibal had done that all along with Will, made allowances, risks, that he otherwise wouldn’t have. It gave Will sense of power, not unlike killing the Great Red Dragon together had.
seokjin: freshly laundered sheets and warm fluffy towels, the first sip of cool water in the morning, the crackle of candle wicks, april showers and all of may’s flowers, hot chocolate with extra marshmallows and nutella stirred in, foam mustaches, giggling under the covers with all the lights off, and secrets you only have the courage to tell at night.
yoongi: winter solstice, moonrise, cloudshapes and leaves changing in fall, hot coffee on a cold day, good morning kisses and goodnight whispers that go on for much too long, empty parking lots, the first page of an empty notebook, and falling asleep with all the lights on.
hoseok: summer wind, the way light shimmers on water at night, sunsets on airplanes over cloud oceans stained, lipstick marks on ceramic mugs, the afterimage of fireworks, the smell of home, seasalt caramels, and the feeling of someone’s fingers in your hair right before you fall asleep.
namjoon: mornings after rain, the first day of fall or the last day of winter, the ground to a voice first thing in the morning, the last concious thought before falling asleep, cigarette smoke and candied apples, the quiet solitude of 4ams, the first page of a favorite book that keeps all your good memories and some of the bad, the strange loneliness of sunsets, and the muss of sheets after a good night’s sleep.
jimin: windchimes and silverbells, the first star that lights up the night, birdsong, warming your fingers at the base of your neck, morning fog, melting chocolate, just fluffed pillows, the chorus of your favorite song, wishes on fallen eyelashes, daybreak, cold-kissed blushes, and fuzzy toe socks.
taehyung: the first rays of light that break through stormclouds, summer nights spent on rooftops, meteor showers, dandelion fuzz, dewdrops, juice-stained lips and lollipop tongues, sparkling cider, the art of conversing with your eyebrows, melting candle wax, and the moment when the streetlights turn on, all at once.
jungkook: christmas mornings, warm milk and chocolate chip cookies, racing barefoot in the rain, cliffdiving, counting stars, butterfly kisses, staying up all night just because you can, sugar highs and caffeine dives, old tshirts that are too soft to throw away, giddiness from making new friends, and realizing that you are loved.
If it scares you, it might be fun to try 📷 Xtrems7000
Freeze! Time that is! This mission asks you to do capture perfect moments, from jumping in the air on a mountain top to freezing frame as you ride the perfect wave!
Anything is eligible for this mission but we want to see your most exciting moments perfectly frozen in time! Celebrating a goal with your teammates? Teaching your toddler to swim? Even just a perfect high-five! Whatever moment it may be, don’t forget to FREEZE!
The winner of the FREEZE mission will be taking home an awesome TomTom Bandit 4K Action Camera so that you never miss a moment again!