Young Hearts (Chapter 6, page 2 of 5)

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Chapter 6

She looks up at the mountain of rust-red stone. Her fingernails dig into the rock as she attempts to push herself up to the next handhold. Her right hand grabs a chunk of rock. The rock cracks, her eyes widening with terror as she watches it break away. Her left hand manages to catch part of another rock to keep her from falling. She tries to get traction with her feet to steady herself. The fingers on her left hand begin to lose their grip on the rock. She pushes down on the stone until her fingers bleed, but they continue to slip away. She claws wildly at the air, trying to grab onto anything. Before she plunges to her death, something stops her fall and guides her back onto the rock.

She looks to her left to see a man with mocha-colored skin and sparkling turquoise eyes smiling at her with the whitest teeth she ever saw. "I got you, kiddo," he says. "You have to be careful on these rocks."

Samantha nearly lost her grip on the rock from the memory. She shook her head and wondered who the man with the turquoise eyes was. Then she remembered what the mystery man had said about being careful. She would have to think about him later; for now she had to focus on finishing the climb.

Near the halfway point she was glad Wendell had given her the hammer. The rocks here had been worn smooth, leaving her with no choice but to carve her own holds. She kept her feet planted against the rocks while she stretched out with the hammer to smash the clawed end into the stone. Dust blew into her face, bringing tears to her eyes. After a few minutes of hard labor, she carved out a hold for her fingers.

The rest of the climb continued in this manner until Samantha felt too exhausted to go farther. She clung to the side of the wall, wondering if she should have listened to Wendell's suggestion of finding another place to land. No, they had been lucky to find this point.

She finally reached the top of the wall to find a metal rail. Samantha pushed herself over the top to find an expanse of a hard, gray material beyond the rail. Asphalt, she recalled. This was a road! "We did it!" she called down to Prudence and Wendell, her words echoing along the walls.

She untied the rope from her waist, tying one end to the guardrail and dropping the other down to Prudence and Wendell. The rope reached only three-quarters of the way so that they would have to climb up to meet the rope. Samantha shouted instructions down to Wendell, but couldn't be sure if he heard or not. After a minute of arguing with Prudence, he began scurrying up the rocks, heedless of the danger.

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