Looking Up

Help, I fell into drama-land and I can’t get up!

Dear Toasted Cheese, please help save me and my thoughts. Who are we summoning today? I don’t know.

  • “I used to be obsessed with _____. I have no regrets.”
  • “Oops, I missed one.”
  • “Tell me again why I used to like this?”
  • “If there’s nothing there, I just _______”

“Tell me again why I used to like this?” Cecelia Devereux looked up — and up some more, until her neck complained and she turned to look at Nathan. He gave her a smile, readjusting her straps and making sure everything was well secured.

“I think it was less that you liked it and more that I like it and so you came along to impress me,” he reminded her gently, feeling for the right grip and hoisting himself off the ground.

Cee gave a sigh as she watched him ascend the wall, taking care to remember the path he chose, knowing that, if she went the same route, it would have to be modified for her much smaller stature. She turned toward Evelyn, and to her surprise, her friend had taken off and was even farther along than Nathan was. “When will I stop learning new things about you, Evie?” She called up.

“I used to be obsessed with climbing things,” Evie paused to respond. “Until I got too injured to do so, and stopped. I have no regrets. Limited climbing is probably better for my well being anyway.”

There was no doubt about the fact that she was expected to go up, and Cee, for the life of her, couldn’t remember why she thought a day on the climbing wall would be a good idea. It had been over double-digit amount of years since she last went, and, although Nathan had said it was like riding a bike, she was not keen on making her own approach.

“You’ve got this. I’ll go up with you.”

Christine approached her, an encouraging smile upon her face. Cee couldn’t help but smile back despite the horrendous bought of nerves she faced. She had a very interesting relationship with Chrissy, being that she was the older, and very protective sister of Nathan, and things hadn’t worked out last time. It had taken quite a while to rebuild that trust, and for Chrissy to like her once again, and Cee was very proud of what they had built in the year since she and Nathan got back together. “Only if you go first.”

Chrissy took the time to point out the easier routes for her, before seeking a grip and started her ascent. Cee sighed, knowing her procrastination was coming to an end, and followed her, glad that she was of small frame and kept in good shape. Pull after pull, she continued on after Chrissy, taking comfort in her close presence. There was little talking to be done, for she concentrated on the next grip, making sure it was secure and comfortable before she lifted off from the previous one. Nathan wasn’t totally correct; she did sort of remember the part about absolute concentration, and the strain of using her muscles in such a way,

She stopped, realising that she had moved too far over and the next grip was definitely out of her reach. Cee looked over at Chrissy, a bit of panic sparking in her eyes. “If there’s nothing there, I just stretch a little bit more and push off toward the next one,” Chrissy advised, noticing her look. She was very good about staying within comfortable distance of Cee, and she was thankful for the guidance.

However, the next one was a bit further than “just a stretch” for Cee, and she frowned at it, debating on the best course of action. She carefully moved her legs over until they were at nearly an uncomfortable distance, but in better alignment with where she wanted to go, and bounced her weight from foot to foot as she talked herself into the launch. It had been almost twenty years, and Nathan was a load of crap. She gave a little prayer, thankful she was strapped in and even if she did miss, it would be fine, and took off.

Her fingers just brushed the grip, then she felt herself falling. Panic set in full time as she flailed, reaching for support, and — to her relief — finding it in one of the other grips, a little lower down. Cee plastered herself to the wall, a hand or foot on a grip a piece, and glared daggers up at the very top, where Evie and Nathan watched.

At long last, she made it. Nathan greeted her with a side hug and kiss, pride radiating on his face. Cee playfully pushed him away and took a moment to survey the view of the gym. They sat on one of two tall, monolith-like walls that stood taller than the rest of the fixtures, and a gym track was built around the pillars to use up space. Cee watched the runners, joggers, and even slow meanderers go around the track, a smile pulling at the edge of her lips. It was this sight, and the satisfaction of having reached the top, that toggled her memory. Despite the aches and pains she was sure to have in the morning, Cee appreciated the view and the achievement it took to face her fears and climb.

“Now, down we go!” Evie gave her a wide, mischievous smile, then shot a glance past her at Nathan. “I call yellows!”

“Greens!” Nathan answered, quickly turning around and launching himself off the edge. Cee watched as the two of them made their descent, their hands reaching out to touch certain coloured grips as they raced.

She looked over at Chrissy. “I feel like they’re in a whole ‘nother world.”

“It’s a thing to stop them from just propelling themselves to the bottom,” her friend explained. “This way, they have to stop and touch all the colours they announced on their path, and keeps things a bit more interesting.”

“I don’t remember that,” she frowned.

“Nathan and I like to do it, and he mentioned it to Evie and…” Chrissy trailed off, motioning below them.

“I think I’ll pass on that.” Cee looked straight down and felt the smallest of flutters in her stomach. It was nerves again, just nerves from not having done it in so long, she told herself, turning around far more cautiously and

“Surely and slowly. We’ll make it.” And they did, bit by bit, feeling the rope give way under them. It took quite a few gentle pushes off the wall to reach the bottom, and she felt a little weak in the knees as she finally landed on the mats below.

“Oops, I missed one.” she heard Evie say, and looked over at her friend, who was already rearing to head right back up. “Maybe I’ll take greens this time; that seemed much easier.”

“Yellows are far more abundant for some reason,” Nathan agreed, coming over and giving Cee a proud hug. “You did quite well.”

“I do not want to go up again so soon,” she held up a hand in protest, and Evie laughed.

“Ah well, maybe next time then. This was fun.”

It had been fun. Cee could see herself getting back into this in the near future, as long as she had someone to go with. With Evie and Nathan both apparently being enthusiasts, she had no shortage of willing volunteers. She reached out to Chrissy and touched her gently on the arm, getting her attention. “Thank you.”

Chrissy smiled at her. “That’s what family’s for, yeah?”

“Family.” The word filled her with warmth, and she returned the smile.

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