BY MARY CHAPMAN
Copyright is held by the author.
IT HAPPENED so quickly. One moment Sam is standing at the foot of the cliff breathing in and taking in the magnificent azure sky. The next, he slips and the wind is whistling in his ears. He is going to die. He is certain of this.
What had that plaque at the foot of the trail said? Hazardous drop. Do not hike beyond lookout point.”
The wind is fast when you are free falling from 10,000 feet.
His eyes sting and the wind forces tears to leak out of the corner of his eyes. Or is he crying?
This morning Sam was so happy — so hopeful. Hiking with Bailey was going to be a perfect way to spend a Saturday, to explain to her what she meant to him — even though he was an idiot sometimes.
He thinks of their first date. Cold noses and cold toes as they skate in the yellow glow of the gaslights.
Now here he was — every second the ground was closer and the footpath and Bailey further and further away. Sam notices the red rocks and the craggy ferns along the mountainside. Could he somehow propel himself to the mountainside and grab hold?
He reaches his hand out as far as he can stretch but is several inches away from touching the mountainside.
He is going to die. And he’s OK with it. This fall feels eternal — long enough to come to peace with his life. Seventeen is young to die. But it’s also a long time to live. He has laughed, and cried and loved.
Bailey. Would she call 911? Would she call his parents? Sam sends love to his mother. She will be devastated when she finds out. Gosh, he wishes he’d given her a better hug before he’d loaded the car and drove away.
Tears streak his face and run into his ears. The wind makes them feel frigid against his cheeks.
His fingertips touch the mountain but just barely. Blood runs down his forearm but he doesn’t feel it.
He thinks of the first time he noticed Bailey. He was sitting in a group piano class when he was ten years old. The metronome ticking to the beat of his heart. She looked so focused on her G scale, and he knew instantly that he wanted to be her friend.
The ground is close now. He can see the dirt and individual rocks. It looks hard. Is this going to hurt?
He thinks of Bailey’s cold, flat eyes as he apologized (again) for what he did. He can still feel the imprint of her warm hands on his back and her surprisingly forceful shove.
In that moment he didn’t register what had happened. He just wind-milled his arms and leaned back trying to stop forward momentum. But it was no use. Now the truth hits him as the ground rushes up to meet him.
Goodbye Bailey. I’m sorry. Please don’t tell my mom you pushed me. Don’t ruin your life too. Be happy.