As I stood there looking over the cliff, I could see the green trees far below. They looked so tiny from the top of the rough, tan cliff. It was early spring and the first weekend after the snow had melted.
"Are you ready?" my dad yelled to me from over by the truck.
"I'm always ready!" I replied with confidence.
As my dad tied the rope into the bolt that was drilled into the cliff, I climbed into my harness. I looked down at my dad, who was now kneeling at the bolt. He looked up and said, "Who does this?" As if rehearsed, I heard my siblings reply "We do!"
"Are we all set up?" I asked my dad. "Yup." He replied. "Hook in your eight ring and have fun." As I hooked into the rope I could feel the slight breeze through my hair. Taking a deep breath, I could smell the pine trees and feel the sun beating down on my skin. I knew it was time to start my descent down the cliff. Taking one last glance around the top of the cliff I started walking backward.
"Don't forget to stop and smile for a picture," my mom said before I went off the edge.
"I won't," I said annoyed.
My mom is always taking pictures, I thought. They all look the same, just a different cliff behind me. My senses felt heightened. I could feel small rocks rolling under my feet. I was aware of the rush of the waterfall that was falling over the edge of the cliff just a few feet to my left. I felt the rope tighten. My feet finally hit the edge of the cliff. Even though I rappel down cliffs every summer, I always get nervous taking the first step off. I tell myself to trust the rope. Holding my breath, I took my first step off.
I leaned back as if I were sitting in a chair, I could feel the adrenalin pouring through my veins. These moments are what I live for, I thought. I lowered myself down far enough that the rope touched the edge of the cliff. It was easy sailing from there. My tight muscles relaxed and I took a big breath. A big smile came naturally. I bounced down the cliff, feeling my body fly away from the cliff then being pulled back. I kept my feet in front of me to avoid hitting into the cliff with my body. After descending about 10 feet, I looked over and saw my mom standing across the cliff. "Stop right there and smile," she said. As I pulled the rope, with my right hand behind my back, I started to slow down. I tightened my grip a little harder and I came to a stop on the cliff. I looked over and pulled a smile. My mom always says I am well practiced at instant smiles for pictures.
Then all of a sudden I started falling. It felt like the world was moving in slow motion. I could feel my heart stop. My legs crashed into the cliff then I realized I was falling. Why am I falling, I thought. Then I realized I had let go of the rope with my right hand. I could hear my dad's voice in the back of my head saying, "Never let go of the rope with your right hand." I started grabbing at the rope above me thinking that if I could get a good grip on the rope that I could stop my fall. No matter what I did I just kept falling. The rope burned into my hands and arms as I slid down it. I couldn't grab on tight enough. I just kept falling. My adrenaline peaked. Frantically, I grasped the rope as tight as I could. It didn't help. The rope just burned deeper into my hands. I quickly glanced at my mom. Her face looked terrified. "Was this it?" I thought. "Is this how I am going to die?"
Suddenly I felt an impact. My legs hit the ground, then out of instinct, I rolled onto my back. I gazed up at the blue sky and realized I made it. I was still alive. Were my legs broken? I thought. Did I have a concussion? I could hear my dad screaming "What happened?" and my mom frantically yelling "Are you okay?" Suddenly my sister was standing right next to me. "Get up," she said. "You are fine." As I finally released my breath I felt the burning pain covering both my hands and arms. I glanced down to see what was causing such severe pain. Rope burns covered my hands and forearms. They were also covered in black from the rope. My sister yelled up at my parents, "She is alright, just some scrapes". Then she turned and looked at me and said, "Get up." I slowly stood up. Checking my balance and to make sure that my legs were okay. "Ahhhhhhh," I screamed. My hands felt like they were on fire. They hurt so bad. I started crying.
"Mom, my hands." I gasped. "They hurt."
"I can't help you from up here". She screamed. "Hurry and hike up to me."
I couldn't move. My whole body hurt. I slowly started climbing up the cliff. Every step felt like a challenge. I made my way along up the dirt hill stumbling on every rock in my path. Finally, I got to the top. My mother ran over to me. "Dump this water on your hands." She said. As I dumped the soothing water on my burnt hands I looked at my mom and said "Thanks for helping me. I love you."