When Charles awoke one morning, he never suspected that the family trip he’d planned would be a life changing experience for his middle daughter. As he knew she would, Martha had coffee waiting for Charles when he came downstairs. As he showered and dressed, the smell of bacon sizzling on the stove wafted up the stairs to greet him. He checked the weather forcast before he went down to eat breakfast with his family, and discovered that the day would be nice and sunny.
“How would yall like to go rock climbing at Sweet Water State Park?”
“Yay!” Six-year-old Thomas clapped his hands in pure delight.
“Will the weather be fitting for us to go out there today?” Martha placed a hot cup of coffee in front of her husband as he took his seat at the head of the table and said a brief prayer before breakfast was served.
“I checked the forecast before I came down this morning, and there’s no rain in sight according to the weather man.”
“Please can we go Mama?” Becca Begged.
“Well, all right, if the weather holds up, we’ll be fine.”
“Yay!” the children gave each other high-fives, then began wolfing down their pancakes and bacon.
“Now you children need to hurry up and finish your breakfast so I can get the kitchen cleaned up before we go.” After everyone had eaten, Martha cleaned the kitchen while Charles and the girls packed the supplies they’d need in the hiking pack before heading out to the car for the long drive ahead.
When they arrived at the park, Charles saw several people climbing the various rock trails and bike paths. As the Martin family made their way into the main entrance of the park, Charles spotted his friend Ted Morris helping another patron onto a mountain bike. When he’d taken care of the customer, Ted sauntered up to Charles and clapped him on the shoulder. “Yall come to do a little rock climbing today?”
“We sure did Mr. Morris.” Martha winked at Charles’s long time climbing buddy.
“Well, you’re in luck, because there ain’t too many people on the rocks today. Before you go, I’d better warn you’ns, be very careful on them there stepping stones, cause they’s slick as glass after the good rain we had last week. I don’t want anybody gettin’hurt on those steps. Other than that, you’ll be just fine.”
“we’ll be very careful Ted, thanks for the warning.” Charles waved as the park ranger walked away to help another patron.
“Let’s go see who can reach the top of that there rocky hill.” Amanda led Becca out to their favorite mini mountain.
“Do not go up those steps, you girls hear me?”
“Yes Mama, we don’t plan on it.” Becca pointed to the slope they planned to climb.
“I’ll go with them, to make sure they’re all right.” Charles patted Martha on the shoulder.
“Mama, may I go climb the wall with the other boys?” Thomas gave his mother a pleading look.
“yes you may, but be careful. As a matter of fact, I’m going to keep an eye on you.” Martha sat on one of the low rock walls so she could see her little boy.
As Becca and Amanda raced up the rocky slope, Becca spotted a young lady of about twenty or so climbing up the stone steps. Doesn’t she know that she could slip off the edge? Becca watched for a moment as the girl started climbing up the steps, reaching with her feet to feel her way up the path. “Come on Beck,” Amanda called impatiently.
“I’m coming.” Becca scampered up the slope and stayed close at Amanda’s heels until she saw a wide enough area to pass her. As she walked up the slope, she overheard the woman’s conversation with someone down below.
“Diana, you need to be careful going up those stepping stones. The ranger said they could be very slick.”
“I will dad, I’ve done this a thousand times or more.”
“I know you have honey, but you can’t see like you used to as a child.”
“I know that, this is why I came to make this last climb. I wanted to climb these steps one more time before I go completely blind.”
“Okay, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.” the girl said nothing more but kept climbing.
“Did you hear that Mandy? The girl is going blind.” Becca sidled up to Amanda so she could whisper in her ear.
“It’s not nice to eavesdrop on other people Becca.” Amanda sauntered ahead of her sister, and Becca found it harder to keep up with her the higher they climbed.
All at once, Becca stopped in her tracks when she saw the girl start to slip on the top step of the stepping stone ladder. “Diana, look out!”
“I got it daddy.” The girl threw her arms out before to break her fall, but before she knew it, both feet started sliding out from under her. “God help me!” the girl cried, followed by a blood curtling scream as she fell down, down, down, into the abyss. Becca turned tail and ran for her life when she heard the thud of the woman’s lifeless body landing on the rocks below.
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