It is dark; dark and raining. The rain has turned the path to mud, except where the scree has become soaked and slippery. She sees little through the rain on her glasses. The path switches back tightly before turning mostly vertical. She inches along on all fours, crawling in the mud and filth. The small rocks of the scree dig into her knees and the palms of her hands. She clutches at the weeds along the path, like they will hold her weight, like they will save her if gravity comes calling. She has not looked down, looked behind her for fear. She comes to an outcrop, must swing herself ten thousand feet over nothing, to get to the other side.
“Trust your boots,” the thought comes. But she trusts nothing, is filled only with fear. Finally, she swings her ass over the abyss in the dark, continues her upward struggle.
She reaches the top just as the sky begins to lighten. She hears the first bird sing. She must pull herself over the lip of the cliff. Her arms are tired, she is exhausted, but must go on. Her fingers dig into the ground, she swings a leg up, pulls, slides back, repositions, pulls again with her whole body. She feels her center of gravity shift from under to over the lip. She leans into the shift, rolls away from the edge, lies closed-eyed, maybe even sleeps a bit.
She is roused by the wind and a slight hissing. She opens her eyes, stands. What she sees isn’t what she expects. The hissing is the susurration of the prairie grass leaning against itself in the wind; gentle pressure as it touches, slides, and parts from itself. There is no rain, just a warming sunrise in a cloudless sky. She turns full circle. There is no cliff, no mud, no steep, winding path; just the gentle roll of slight rises, as far as she can see.
“Maybe I’m making this harder than I need to,” she thinks to herself.