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A Long Way Down

By , El Paso, TX
Upon my doorstep stood my older brother; it was as much of a surprise to see him there in front of me than him dressed in shorts and a t-shirt. He carried a backpack by his side, a large grin spread across his face.

?Why are you here?? I asked, stepping out of the way as he pushed me aside to get inside the house.

He snorted, ?And here I thought you were smart.? He rolled his eyes and continued onto the kitchen while I glared daggers at his back. ?Remember those plans to go to Hueco Tanks again?? He questioned. Now that he had mentioned it I vaguely remembered our first time visiting there. It was around the same time of the year too, a hot August day. Nonetheless we had planned to go again after he had free time.

I nodded my head, ?I think.?

?Well I thought we?d go today, and later on head back to my house. Is that okay?? His long arms reached towards the freezer and he shoved a good handful and a-half of ice into his water bottle.

I groaned, ?And you tell me this now?? He merely chuckled as I stomped off to my room getting ready for our big adventure. Little did I know it was going to have me aching the very next day.


When we arrived at Hueco Tanks we were forced to pay five dollars to go rock climbing, as well as watch the same, boring documentary about the history of Hueco Tanks and the markings upon these ancient rocks created in the past. It was the same, square television set that needed its antennas fixed, and the knobs on the dial were taped up. The tick of the clock in the background was much more interesting than this monotonous voice talking.
Considering my lack of sleep last night, I was struggling to keep my eyes open. The sheriff woman seated behind her desk took quick looks at me. Who could blame her? She did work here. Despite that, I kept my eyes open for that long fifteen-minute?felt like an hour?video. I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes, as we made our way out toward the front door to face these monstrous danger zones.
?Ready to head out?? My brother called back to me, as I had to at least jog to keep up with my brother?s long legs. I hated being short.

?What other choice do I have?? I asked, ?It?s not like I could let irresponsible you go up there alone. I?d never see you again!? I snickered as he turned his head and went straight ahead. Both of us soon after got tired. It hadn?t even been long enough for it to be a minute.

?Dang, I?m tired!? Ken gasped, ?I?m out of shape, I need to start working out again.?

I nodded, ?I agree.? I could feel the sharp stare of his eyes on my back as I smiled at my teasing. I tried to act as if I wasn?t tired, but it was a hard climb, and it was only a little bump in the road. I couldn?t imagine what the next step of the way would lead us to. I craned my head up, glancing up at the trees. A soft breeze blew, ruffling the leaves sending whispers from one tree to the next. The sun?s rays sprinkled itself through the leaves, casting polls of light on the ground.

?Well, let?s move on.? Ken spoke moving ahead of me once again. I ran behind him unzipping the zipper to the bag, and stuffing my water bottle in there.

?Thanks for the heads-up.? The words of sarcasm flew from my mouth, and I could see the small smile on his lips.

He nodded, ?No problem there, sister.?

Our tennis shoes crunched on the loose rocks beneath our feet, both of us huffing up the steep climb of the mountain. Our chosen course was going surprisingly smooth, though we were reaching higher in elevation. Both of us slipped through little pools of water that had collected from the rain. I could feel the itch for water, but I shoved the feeling away, knowing that it was much too early to drink anything at this point. But the day was becoming hotter, and the sun was rising farther into the middle of the sky. I didn?t know how much more my legs could possibly handle.

?Look,? My brother stopped, causing me to bump into him. ?We?re at the top.?

I looked around him to see, he was correct. That this was the main part of the mountain we were aiming for. But as I looked back, my legs were shaking beneath me. Though as easy as it was to climb up, the steep climb down was almost impossible. As we sat, admired the view, my mind was screaming. I was being tangled up in my fear, my fear of heights gripping its palpable hands around me, and choking me. My stomach was twisting so grotesquely, it was hard for me to swallow the food that we had packed.

My brother?s head swiveled around to see the long climb down, ?How about we go another way?? I merely nodded my head. My eyes were searching frantically for a way out, from what I could see, we would have to climb more.
Our journey became longer, our legs trudging now. We had set our eyes on a small cavern we would have to crawl through in order to get to the other side where our freedom awaited us. Small spaces were something I never thought I would have to fear during this journey. I bit the inside of my lip roughly as I watched my brother climb through the small space, audacious about what he was being put through.

?There?s a way out through here!? I heard him call out to me, his voice ricocheting off the walls.

I let out a shaky breath of air. ?Okay.? As he pulled me up upon the ledge of the hallow rock, I crawled through it closing my eyes, feeling as if my body was about to shut down from the trepidation that was surging through me. Although I was relived, it soon came to an end. As we walked on the dangerous, breakable branches of trees, we could only hope that this was our last hurdle. Yet when we climbed up the rock wall, and had to forcibly push our way out through other caverns, we met another obstacle. We had nowhere else to go. We had two options though, and that meant it would give us a slim possibility of surviving.

Yes, I was scared, terrified even, as we made a final decision. My brother was the first to go down this slanted part of the rocks. We had crawl through a tiny break in the rocks in order to get down there. There were several holes in this slanted rock wall that would give us leverage, but despite that, my hands were shaking. One wrong move, one simple mistake, and we would slide down into a dark abyss, never knowing if we would make it out again.

?It?s okay,? he reassured me. ?I?ll catch you if you slip, just put your foot in this hole here,? he pointed out towards my right, ?and take your hand and grip it tightly as you slide yourself down, okay?? I meekly nodded doing as he said. Gripping the rocks for?no joke?my dear life. As I maneuvered myself down, my legs began shaking. I was falling apart.

?Not now,? I whispered to myself as I closed my eyes taking another step down. Tears were very close to slipping out from my already blurry vision from wanting to sob.

My brother chuckled, ?You?re doing fine! There?s no need to be such a stiff board.? My eyes wandered down seeing the darkness below me. I had no comeback for what he had to say; I was just too scared to move another inch. I heard my brother?s feet move against the crumbling rocks, and he took my arm, leading me slowly downwards, and then sideways making our way to another edge, where, from afar, I could see grassland. I could see the trees that we had walked by. My second wind came and pushed me forward; I scrambled up on towards the rocks, and stood looking at the easy travel down.

?Come on slowpoke! We?re almost back to the car.? My brother called, moving forward first.

I laughed in pure joy as I shoved passed him, ?Who?s the slowpoke now, huh?? My brother made a face and he ran ahead, how he could do that was beyond me, especially with that heavy backpack weighing him down. ?You?re cheating!? I accused and ran to my fullest speed, jumping over the stumbling rocks. Although the heat had been beating down on us, I could even see that my brother was relieved as he breathed out heavily when our feet touched the gravel of the parking lot. For once, I had never been so happy that this world had flat lands like it does today.





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