Don’t look down


Don’t look down.

Michelle clung to the rock face, her black hair whipping about her face in the chilly spring just. Her fingernails felt like they were breaking as she gripped tightly to the rocks, attempting to find another foothold to bring her higher on the cliff.

This was not her idea of a Sunday activity. She absolutely hated heights and she could hardly believe she had got to where she was. There was a man climbing somewhere below her. Michelle could hear him panting as he moved, and he was getting closer.

Finally, her foot dug into a foothold and she pulled herself up and away from the man behind her. He needed to reach the top first. That was the only thing she was aware of as you made her treacherous climb towards the top.

Concentrating on his breathing helped her to picture where he was. It was so tempting to look down to see for herself, but she knew that if she did that vertigo would set in and she would falter. She would just freeze up and remain in place, but at worst they would lose the grip and fall. In reality, she wanted nothing like that to happen.

Instead, she imagined reaching the grass at the top where she would pull herself up. Then she would be safe. Well, safer. Gritting her teeth, she resumed her climb. Her green eyes scanned for her next movement and was rewarded when she saw it.

The breathing was closer now, but she would not let herself get caught. They had taught her better than that. She scrambled to move quicker.

At last, she felt her fingertips graze the grass at the top. It was like the last push, the ultimate motivation that spurred her into moving quickly onto the top of the cliff. She lay on the floor for a moment, just staring at the clouds drifting overhead. It seemed the wind was less gusty higher up.

“Michelle, that was fantastic!” The man climbed up after her and stood looking down at her. “I never expected to be up so quickly. I don’t know what you did to convince yourself to carry on when I know how scared of heights you are. Well done!” He unclipped himself from his ropes and took off his hard hat to reveal thinning blond hair.

“Thank you, Alan,” she replied quietly but sincerely. She was more progressive when that moment than she had been ever before. She would beat this phobia and this has been one of many steps she had taken so far. It was however the biggest.

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