Did I do this?
The sun was in the middle of the sky, so it had to be around noon. There were a few clouds speckled throughout the sky. With very limited service, the need for cellphones was almost non-existent. We of course all brought them anyway, but it was rare to see one out. We had arrived in Hueco Tanks State park two days earlier after a 10 hour car ride enduring James’s rambles and suicide jokes. The world-class rock climbing had attracted people for ages, including our team. There were two days before thanksgiving and the mild Texan temperatures were throwing off our Coloradan November instincts.
“What is there to live for?” James said in a flat tone looking down at the rocks below. I let out a silent chuckle through my nose and shook my head.
“Jump.” Rachel said sarcastically, and started down the path.
“Please don't James” Talia said half heartedly. His jokes of death were getting less serious and less funny by the day. A. We all made it to a small cave with a slanted roof. There was a large opening in the cave that lets you emerge into what looks like an endless horizon. There was rocky terrain everywhere with an occasional 10 to 15 foot boulder interrupting the flow of rock. We set down our bags in the cave and went out to explore the open environment; Talia went first. B. Her awkwardly tall body and extremely skinny waist silhouette against the sun as she scrambled up the rocks.
“Wait for me” Rachel demanded. James and Reid started to wander off while Talia and I followed not far behind. It started out flat, but began to slope more downwards in gradual steps. We began to steer off in the direction of James who was down a ways passing a large boulder. We heard a faint cry in the distance and turned around to see Rachel running after us.
“Why did you leave me hoe!” she shrieked while out of breath after she finally caught up to us.
“Sorry” I said while being distracted by various rock formations. We looked up to see Reid standing on a boulder so we climbed up to see the view. I could see all the way down into the valley below where the rock dropped off. There were cacti spread out among the terrain. Rachel had fallen into one earlier and still had a rash from it. I got off the Boulder and began to walk around exploring all the rock and nature around me; Rachel and Talia joined me. After staying out there for sometime, we decided to go back to our larger group. We arrived at the cave and saw Reid and a few other teammates who arrived later.
“Where is James” Talia asked
“I thought he was with you” Reid replied
“I'm sure he’s fine, he’ll be back.” Rachel assured.
We began climbing with the rest of our team forgetting James.
About 2 hours later we all pulled out our zip locked bag lunch.
“Nutella and banana sandwich?” Rachel said clearly judging me.
“That sounds great” Reid mentioned.
“Hey guys, James still hasn’t come back. Maybe we should look for him.” Talia said worried. The coaches were gone helping with another small group, and had no idea James had been missing. They must have assumed we were old enough to keep track of each other and not wander off, but James always seems to find a way to mess up.
D.“Is this why James is gone?” I thought to myself “Are we too mean to him? He’s probably lost and maybe scared, and I’m thinking about how stupid he can be. Maybe he left on purpose.”
C.“Let’s go find him!” Talia blurted out, clearly trying not to have another anxiety attack.
“Yes!” I replied, and we set off, leaving behind Rachel who thought James was fine, and wanted to stay back and continue to flirt with Reid.
“Wait.” Called out Reid, “I’ll come too”
“Fine, I’ll go” Rachel said flustered. We all looked for about 30 minutes calling out James’s name with no response.
“I’m going to head back, don't stay out here too long.” Reid said as we walked back. Not too long after Rachel decided to go back as well, for “other reasons”.
“What if he died, or fell the edge!” Talia cried, “we have to tell a coach. This is really bad”
“It's ok! Breath. I'm sure he’s alright.” I said trying to comfort her, but I started to get worried myself. Were we too mean.
We started to walked up to the edge slowly. We got down on our stomachs and peered our heads over the edge. All I could see was bushes and rock.
“What’s that!” Talia said pointing down to a red spot on the ground. It was unclear whether it was a change in rock color, or blood. I said nothing back.
“Oh my god” Talia said softly. “Did we do this?”
“I- mayb-” I looked away “Lets go back”
Rachel was waiting for us outside the cave when we arrived. There was one coach there spotting some kids.
“I think we made James jump” Talia said keeping her head down.
“What are you talking about?” Rachel said “He’s-”
“Dead!” Talia cried
“ He's right there Talia!” Rachel shouted starting to laugh.
“What” Talia gasped. I walked over to James and looked him in the eyes.
“I'm sorry” I said, as huge wave a relief fell over me. I didn't do this.