I hear the crunch of snow and don’t dare to move. I know the ice is there, but for some reason, it doesn’t hurt. I breathe, and slowly move each of my limbs, checking for broken bones. Somehow, the skis stayed on. My poles had flown out of my hands though, forgotten behind me. I lay there, adrenaline coursing through me.
It’s early afternoon, and I talk with my sister Kate and her friend Lucy as we slowly rise up the mountain. The old wooden chair lift sways as we talk about how good the hot chocolate we had recently sipped was. The cold wind bites at our faces, but we don’t mind much. I pull down my mask to speak and laugh with them on the journey up.
The chair slowly reaches the top of the lift and I raise my skis. We slide over to the top of the Terrain Park, and meet up with my parents and my youngest sister, Charlotte. I watch as Charlotte trudges down the hill, practically in a full split with her skis to keep her from moving too fast. I gasp in surprise as she goes off a jump catching a tiny bit of air and stumbles down. She recovers quickly, and I dash down the hill down to see if she’s alright. Though she looks up at me with a wild grin plastered onto her face, determined to try again.
“Will you try it with me this time?” I hear Charlotte’s little voice perk up next to me.
“Sure,” I say. “Why not.”
I board the lift again with Kate and Lucy. When Charlotte had done the jump, she had slowed down almost to a stop before she went over it. But since I’m older, I should go over it much faster. Though as the chair rises so does my fear. Tension builds inside of me, clawing at my stomach. But I do my best to ignore it, put on a fake mask of confidence, and brush my nerves away.
We reach the top of the hill again, and I watch again as Charlotte skis down the course, slowing as she nears the jump. This time, after she goes over the jump she wobbles a bit, but stays up. My turn. I take off and dash down, circling around the other jumps and rails. The last jump is in eyesight, and I center myself before it, never slowing down. Fear suddenly punches me in stomach, and I race onto the rail.
I feel stuck in midair as I slowly tip forward. My poles snag against the ground, so I let them go. The winter air rushes against me, but I don’t feel cold. The tip of my right ski digs into the snow first, tugging me into a forward motion. My face hits the snow next, and the weight of the rest of my body snaps back my neck. I slide down part of the hill, my face dragging through shards of ice. Somehow, my skis stay on, tumbling behind me. Slowly, I come to a stop. I can’t see, hear or feel anything, I’m blinded by fear and adrenaline.
I feel no pain, just numb. I might have broken my neck. Maybe I’m going to be paralyzed. Maybe my legs are broken. Maybe my arm. Hysteria crowds my thoughts. I slowly inch forward each of my limbs, checking for broken bones. Then I start to pull myself together and sit up, life flooding back into me. The right side of my face feels numb, my lips becoming swollen. It doesn’t hurt though.
My dad grabs my poles behind me as I meet up with the rest of my family at the bottom of the hill. Though in reality blood is running down, a trillion cuts on my face, I don’t notice it. My full attention is on Charlotte. She looks up at me, waiting for a reaction. I remember her wild grin full of determination. Then, I let out a slowly give into a painful smile.