21 October, 2011

the heights

Round the craggy corner, she turned. Shuffling feet, cautiously kicking off loose stones that might make her foot slip. A centimetre at a time. Don't look down. Don't look around. Don't even look up to see how far there is to go.

Shuffle, step.
Shuffle, step.
Wind whistling by ear, pulling at clothes.

Defy gravity a bit longer, she told her muscles. Just a bit more.

Muscles were screaming. Aching with that sour feeling, as if lemon juice had gotten into her muscles and was sapping all her strength.

Just a bit more.

Eyes examined rocks. Cracks, depth, finger holds, foot holds.

Shuffle, shuffle, step.

Finally. A ledge.

With bated breath, she reached out a foot to test the ledge, holding onto the rock at shoulder height with shaking, white finger tips. It held. Carefully, she edged more weight onto the slab of rock until her tired, shaking legs bore all her weight. Once before, she had made the mistake of not testing a ledge and almost fallen back down the mountain cliff. It had been a good thing she'd managed to quickly find foot holds and that the cracks in which her fingers had been wedged had not crumbled beneath her weight.

On the ledge, she collapsed and took a few deep breaths of cold air.

Looking around at the breath-taking sight of mountains upon mountains as far the eye could see, purpling into the horizon, she wondered for the millionth time what she was doing here.

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