King of the Mountain This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

January 11, 2012
The idea hit us as we stared out into the distance. Simultaneously we turned to each other, grinned and started running toward the gigantic rock. The wind rushed at our hair, nipping our necks. I lost my shoes somewhere along the way to the overgrown field. Running as fast as we could through the mist, we had only one thing on our minds: to be king of the mountain. A childish act at 14, for sure, but in a time of failing friendships and state tests, if we could only break free for a moment, vibrancy would return to our souls.

Around the shrubs we leapt, stomping on strawberries that lay in our path. I felt as free as the birds chirping loudly at the beautiful sight of mountains, lakes and trees. As we neared our destination, we saw it wasn’t just the obstacle of climbing the enormous rock that we had to overcome, but getting to the rock, which was actually in the water. We came to the edge of the lake and the rock seemed miles away, though it was only 20 feet or so. It was barely June and the water was chilly on this breezy, sunless day, but it only took a millisecond to realize what we had to do. With pure delight, we raced into the frigid water, stopping after a few feet to shiver and let the true absurdity of the act sink in, just as the ice water was sinking into our once dry, warm clothes.

Life can be so overwhelming sometimes that we try to run away and ignore it all. Yet as I swam toward the rock, my outlook changed and I saw life as not just the little world I was living in, but the big picture, full of open places and opportunity – a place where we all rely on each other. I was swimming as a solution to my stress.

Within a few minutes, we had reached the great rock, and faced yet another setback: algae. It made the rock slippery and nearly impossible to get both feet on. This obstacle could slow us down no more than the 58° water had. Laura was on top of the rock in no time, lending a hand to pull me up. At last we made it. The wind whipped hard against our cold bodies weighted with water. Goose bumps rose high on our skin, trying to keep in some heat. Nevertheless, I felt only triumph looking out on the water. At that moment, I was the king of the world; even the fast-paced waves splashing against the rock below couldn’t reach me.

I cherish the moment when I stood on that tremendous rock looking at the mountains that stretched around us covered with dark mounds of clouds. In the bigger picture of my life, I had friendships in an uproar and finals approaching, but in that moment, everything was perfectly peaceful and full of sparkle. I jumped into that icy water to learn what I could do and, with that, became less apprehensive. I lived for the moment.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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