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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2212937-Rope
Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Relationship · #2212937
Happy Valentine's Day! :)
SCREAMS!!! Entry 2/14/20
Theme: Nerves and Love
999 words

“But you’re still on the ground! On all fours, even! The ground’s just turned 90 degrees…” Kevin pled with her, eyebrows bobbing passionately as he spoke.

“I don’t know, Kev. It’s not so much the height as the falling that worries me! Those 90 degrees are all kinds of important!” said Susan, arms wrapped tightly around herself, eyes wide, as she rocked back and forth.

“Look, I’ll be right there with you the whole time, belaying. You won’t fall,” Kevin implored. Kevin placed his hands on her tensed shoulders, eyes crinkling at the corners with reassuring warmth as he looked her right in the eye with absolute, unflinching certainty.

“I won’t let anything happen to you!”

Susan watched him for a long moment, her tense arms relaxing, rocking motion slowing. Finally, she spoke.

“Why did I have to fall in love with a climbing dufus like you?” she said with a tentative smile. She uncoiled her arms to snake them around Kevin in a sensual hug. She pressed her lips to his.

“Aw, come on… you know you wouldn’t have it any other way… besides… climbing dufi make the best lovers,” he said with a wink between kisses. He lifted her into his arms and carried her into the bedroom.

***

The next day, Kevin finished pulling the webbing around his anchors at the top of the cliff, testing the angles to ensure that the force of a fall would send the force in the correct direction. He clipped a locking carabiner into all three loops of webbing, then clipped in the rope at the center point.

“Rope!” he called to Susan, 100 feet below.

“What the hell does that mean?” she asked, hollering upward.

“It means stand back from the wall! I’m going to drop the rope…”

Visually ensuring that she was back far enough, he did exactly that, releasing the coil of 9mm nylon. It whirred as the rope fed from the coil, then slammed to the ground with a *whap*.

Kevin jogged the trail that wound behind the cliff to the base where Susan was standing.

“So this is a 5.6, Susan, a beginner climb.”

“My palms are sweating, Kevin! Will I fall off?” Susan looked close to panic.

“You can’t fall off, Susan. If your hands and feet come off the wall, I’ll catch you. You might go down a foot from the stretch in the rope, but that’s it. I promise! You trust me, don’t you?”

“Of course I do… I just…” she looked up the wall and swallowed audibly.

“You got this, babe,” said Kevin, nodding his head and smiling. He really hoped she enjoyed this. He absolutely loved climbing, and he wanted to share this with her.

Climbing was such a part of who he was. There was a peculiar tangibility to the freedom that was born of rotating the horizon on end.

Susan could see the joy, the love of the sport in his eyes. Her eyes focused on his face, memorizing the youthful exuberance she found there. She took a deep breath, using the mental image of the man she loved--a man completely in his element--to steel her resolve. She could do this. She would do this. For him.

Just as Kevin had instructed, her nimble fingers tied the figure-eight knot. He checked each buckle on her harness, then each bend of her knot. Finally, he checked his own harness and verified that the gate on the carabiner attached to his belay device was locked.

He placed his right hand on the rope. That hand would never leave the rope, sliding, but never releasing its grip. That would ensure that if Susan fell, he could lock off the rope in the jaws of his ATC immediately to catch her.

An unbidden grin coming to his lips, Kevin mused at the name of his belay device of choice--the Air Traffic Controller. He didn’t dare tell Susan what it stood for. Whoever had named the thing definitely had a sense of humor--one that absolutely wouldn’t be appreciated by his trepidatious girlfriend.

Susan began, grabbing the first hold and smearing her feet on indentations in the rock. She worked her way upward, gaining confidence as she went.

“Nice work, Susan!” He called up the wall.

She looked down at him and beamed. This was awesome! She was enjoying it! Kevin gave a soft chuckle at her glowing eyes and childlike excitement in the moment.

He stepped back as she moved slowly but methodically up the rockface.

***Crunch***

What was that? Had he stepped on something? As he heard another sound, his stomach clenched in dread.

***Bzzzzzzzzzzz***

Wasps. He must have stepped on their hive. Damn it!

As buzzing filled his ears, he attempted to swipe his ear on his shoulder. It wasn’t working. Then the stinging began.

“Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!!!” he said, his voice crescendoing with the accumulation of pain.

A wasp landed on his nose.

He shook his head violently, but it was no use. The wasp stung him once. Twice. Three times!

Forgetting what he was doing momentarily, he swiped the thing away with his right hand.

The hand that was never to leave the rope!!!

The rope accelerated with a blood-curdling zzzzzzip through his ATC as Susan’s foot slipped off the wall, and she began to drop.

Kevin tried desperately to grab at the flailing rope as it whipped from side to side during the fall, but he couldn’t.... quite… curl… fingers… around...

Susan landed with a sickening crunch at Kevin’s feet before he quite understood what had happened.

Mouth wide from the savage suddenness of his mistake, Kevin looked at her neck, bent at an obscene angle. Her vacant eyes gave him a glassy, accusing stare.

He remembered his promise to Susan, the only woman he’d ever loved, as the wasps punctuated the moment with a dozen more horror-numbed stings.

“I won’t let anything happen to you.”
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