UNIVERSAL TROUBLE - MG Adventure Feb 22, 2020 16:00:43 GMT -5
Post by Jeanne on Feb 22, 2020 16:00:43 GMT -5
It wasn’t the first time Walker had dropped her sunglasses, but it was the last time she’d ever drop these.
She almost nabbed them with clumsy fingers as they slid down the rope and bounced off her harness, then hit the rubber edge of her climbing shoe and dropped out of reach. They careened down the rock face she’d just struggled up, popped a lens, then spiraled freely for a thousand feet, out of sight. Walker sucked in her breath. Accelerating at thirty-two feet per second per second. Until they're not. She winced and looked away.
Above her, the rope snaked in a bright blue stripe up a rock corner, then disappeared through a notch sixty feet above. That rope was her lifeline. Somewhere out of sight up there, Dad held the other end of it securely, belaying her. Was he worried for her? Or was he giddily chatting with his new girlfriend, Petra.
She’d just watched Petra glide up this pitch, all confidence and grace. Petra made it look easy. But then, Petra’d been climbing for decades and looked it - weathered, with dry skin and glacier-blue eyes. Now, looking up the rock face, Walker’s stomach knotted with the sheer bulk of the mountain above her. She suddenly wondered if her Mom had been a poised climber like Petra, or whether like Walker, she had struggled for every inch. Mom, she decided, had been a struggler.
Walker had climbed before, but never this high off the ground. It shouldn’t matter whether I fall from 100 feet up or 1,000 feet, she thought. If I hit the ground it’s over. She remembered her sunglasses.
I am not going to fall.
The wind suddenly tore at her, whipping her dark hair across her face and ripping wildly at her blue jacket. She squeaked and wedged herself into the crack, looking desperately for something to hold onto. That's when she saw it. Lurking in shadow at the back of the crack, was a long, smooth edge. It looked so out of place in the depths there, like something hidden on purpose, that her heart skipped a beat. Her fingers grasped it carefully, and worked it slowly out.
“What the…?” she whispered. It was metal, a tube about an inch wide and ten inches long, that must have once upon a time been olive green. Now it was scratched, pitted, and veined with rust. The ends were welded shut with blobby beads of solder. It looked old. And a metal ring was welded onto one end, as if it were meant for carrying on a climbing carabiner. Her heart sank. It was just old junk.
She would have tossed it, but Dad said not to drop anything in case there were climbers below. So, disappointed, she clipped it onto her harness, where it jangled against the other metal climbing gear.
Overhead, clouds rocketed past on a fierce wind. The wind whistled through the gaps in her helmet, smelling like explosions and sweat.