Hanging On

So here I am, climbing up some mountains in the south of New Zealand. Beside me are four other people, three porters carrying backpacks full of supplies and my guide, a tall, chatty girl called Miranda. The mountain we are currently climbing up is called Mount. Teffnu. 7500 metres high, full of dead ends and snowstorms, Mount. Teffnu is a treacherous place where no sane human would ever want to go. Except me. We’ve been climbing since 1:30 am this morning, and while I may have lost track of the time, the sun has started to rise, the bright rays spilling down the mountains, enveloping us in a golden hue. Miranda calls to me. “You might want to see this.” Intrigued, I shuffle over to where she and the Porters stand. “Look down” she whispers. So I do. The sight is breathtaking. “You must be able to see the ocean from here” I say breathlessly. Miranda points to somewhere in the distance. I follow her finger and realize that she is in fact pointing to the sea. Even from here I can see the waves crashing down onto the shore. Nothing could make this morning more perfect. But we can’t stop for long. I can already tell, without looking, that despite the sight before her, she is growing impatient. But I have to capture this moment forever. As I pull out my camera, a strong gust of wind shoves me against the mountain and I hear a scream. I whirl around to face where Miranda and the porters had been only a moment before checking our equipment, taking swigs of our water.
They’re not there. Instead there is just an empty space of rock, and some fingers. Fingers! I lean over the side to find Miranda dangling, holding onto the ledge as if it were a matter of life or death. Which of course it is. I grab her wrists and don’t let go. “What about the others, you know, the porters?” Miranda gives me a sad smile and shakes her head. Even with the sun shining down on my back, my blood runs cold. Gone with the porters is all our food, water and hope of making it home safely. In the midst of all my worries, I loosen my grip on her wrists without realising. “Good luck” She says to me. “What do you mean good luck?” I reply. “You’ll be with me won’t you? I____” I’m cut short as Miranda looks at me and then she lets go and drops to her death. I look down after horror and then I turn away, blinking back tears. I can’t watch her hit the ground, I just can’t. I Look down the path, shadows cast by the sun making it look extra gloomy. Then, my eyes downcast, I begin the long, lonely, hungry walk home.

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