Fire seems to be the spark that ignites change in the lives of the characters of "The Leap." After lightning strikes the circus tent under which the Flying Avalons are performing, the guy wires catch fire and Harold Avalon falls. The narrator's mother, Anna, who is seven months pregnant, watches her husband
As he swept past her on the wrong side, she could have grasped his ankle, the toe-end of his tights, and gone down clutching him. Instead, she changed direction. Her body twisted toward a heavy wire and she managed to hang on to the braided metal, still hot from the lightning strike.
After she lands in some shavings, a man grabs her too hard and inadvertently breaks her arm, and Anna must go to the hospital. It is there that she meets her husband, a doctor, who is retired from the Air Force, who attends her. And, as in other important events in the daughter's and mother's lives, it is a "leap" that is the beginning of things.