Emily White – 7L
Updated: Dec 16, 2021
It was a cold misty morning. Glistening crystals covered everything. Each blade of icy grass, every wrinkled twig, frozen, timeless. Although the sun only shone feebly and the air was cold enough to freeze flame, the mood on the campsite far from reflected the weather. The usually shabby tents seemed to be glowing and vibrating with the excited buzz of chatter and the roaring fire leapt as if it too was going to have an as exciting day as the children huddled around it. Today was the day they went to the cliffs.
Breakfast was a rushed affair; every child wanted to be the first to finish, the first to get to the cliffs, the first to abseil. All, that is, except Anna.
Anna was a thin, pale girl with scraggly hair down to her shoulders and a mouth that looked as if it never smiled, and so it was no surprise that she sat alone at a table, not talking.
Slowly, very slowly, she shovelled a soggy Shreddie to her mouth, taking an extortionate amount of time to chew and then swallow it.
Anna usually tried to blend in, she would never voice an opinion, never be the odd one out, but today, today was different; she just couldn’t pretend to be excited, couldn’t even muster a smile, for inside, a fear gnawed at her stomach, spreading like poison.
Anna was terrified of heights.
An icy path wound through the sea of grey-green, often punctuated by a stray weed or large rock, and along it trekked thirty-two eleven-year-olds and five adults who looked as if they needed about five years of sleep to fulfil their tiredness, all lugging bags the size of a small killer whale.
To nobody’s surprise, Anna trailed along at the back, shrouded in the dust from her dragging feet. She was cold, she was tired, and frankly; she’d rather be in bed.
However hard Anna tried, she could not stop them arriving at the edge of the cliff, lining up and jumping. Now Anna was really panicked. The line slowly trickled down like sand in a timer. Her breath froze in her throat and her heart was doing continual somersaults. Every part of her was contracting as the line dwindled to five then four, please no, three, she couldn’t do it, two, no, her.
She stood unmoving as they strapped her into the harness; she wanted to move, to run, to scream, anything... but she couldn’t. They were talking to her but her brain could not, would not, process the noises. Her lungs called for help, her heart beating an S.O.S on the inside of her chest, and then she decided. She was going to do it.
Every sound seemed amplified, every bird call, every clink of metal on rock as she forced her hands to continue releasing her rope. That was when it happened. She slipped on a patch of ice and her hands let go. She could see the rope reeling away, dropping her down, down, down to the vicious rocks below. She was going to die.
Before she knew it, the rope pulled her upright and she could hear people shouting, she was on solid ground.