Stairway to Heaven

by , under Fiction Prompts, What Pegman Saw

Midway through the second pitch I can tell someting is wrong. He’s hesitating for some reason, hanging on his ice axe longer than necessary.

Maybe this was a bad idea.

We’d climbed together for almost a decade, traveling summers to all the climbing meccas. Joshua Tree, Pinncales, Black Canyon.

When he and his then-girlfriend moved to SLC last fall, I was jacked because we could climb year-round.

But since the breakup he’s been different. Putting on weight, drinking too much, not answering his phone.

I’d gone to his house and pretty much bullied him to coming today, insisting ice climbing was exactly what he needed.

He’d checked three times that we could rappel down from the belay point where I now stand. “Just in case,” he’d joked.

I watch him untie his harness, the slack rope looping down past me.

He leans back and lets the air take him.

 

What Pegman Saw: Utah

  1. k rawson

    Great story. What a horrible thing for the narrator–I imagine he would carry the guilt of this moment with him always.

    Reply
    • J Hardy Carroll

      Yeah. I was picturing the climber holding his arms aloft and falling back off the rock. It would be really hard to see. And that he checks to make sure his buddy can still rappel down by himself is telling. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Reply
  2. Dale

    Wow… trying to be a good friend and instead witnessing his backward swan dive… “Nice” of his friend to make sure he wasn’t in danger first…

    Reply
  3. Lynn Love

    Tragic that even though he had a close friend who obviously cared for him alot, the jumper couldn’t share how he felt, couldn’t take solace from that friendship. Heartbreaking and very well told

    Reply

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