Just kidding. It’s overcast and I’m skiing in mid-April on the ever-present snow Alaska just doesn’t seem willing to part with. The Writers’ Workshop class is on an adventure once again! We make our way toward the tree line where the trail begins when Huck Hobbs, our guide, turns around and addresses everyone. “It’s a good day for a six-mile ski trip, huh? Is everyone ready?”
I begin to laugh.
No one joins me.
My chuckles slowly die down and choke in my throat. Hobbs is giving me a confused smile at my reaction; he’s obviously never met me. “You’re serious? Six miles?” When he nods – still smiling, but with more perception – my head whips around to Mr. Voley… who looks completely and utterly unfazed.
A small whimper rises within me.
When we arrive at about two and a half miles, I’m at the back of the herd – no surprise there. Mr. Voley and my mom are behind me as I continuously trip and stumble, yip and grumble. I keep most comments to myself, and my inner thoughts are clouding my mind, distracting me from the rhythm I’m supposed to be maintaining. There are a few sarcastic ones that slip my lips as my eyes stay trained on my skis though. “Mr. Voley?” I pipe after a while.
“Yeah?” he responds.
Casually, I speak my theory. “I’ve come to the conclusion that you’re planning my self-destruction. I mean, when you think about it… first the glacier walk in Kennecott and now this…” I tried to glance up to throw him a cheeky grin, but I falter and my eyes zero back on the ground.
He throws his head back and laughs. “Right – you’re probably going to read the syllabus real close next time!” Mr. Voley jokes.
I nod. “Gotta read the fine print. I’ll get a lawyer to go over it.” When I look up, I see we’re coming across the group. They’ve stopped and as we ski closer, Kat and Mrs. Hobbs appear. Kat’s skis are being held in her hand and a forlorn expression is on her face.
“She broke the screw on her pair,” Mrs. Hobbs explains, gesturing to the cradled equipment. Mr. Voley and she converse, deciding that it’d be shorter for her to walk back the two and a half miles than the three and a half we have left to go.
“Well, who’ll go back with her?” Mr. Voley questions. He looks around quickly, and his eyes land on me with my ruffled hair, askew hat, and ruddy cheeks from the couple of hours we’d been skiing.
I can already feel my jaw setting. I know what he’s going to ask before it’s out. “Do you want to go back with Kat, Amber?” My brain doesn’t even consider it. I don’t know what comes first: indignation, offence, or pure Lenard stubbornness. Whichever one, my mind is made up. If I let myself give up early, I know I’d be embarrassed and kicking myself later. So, looking him straight in the eye, I say, “I started this. I’m going to finish it.” It feels so cliché saying it aloud, but it expresses exactly what I’m thinking. I’ve never been a quitter, and I’m not starting any time soon.
Something crosses his face. Understanding? Respect? Simple acknowledgement? I’m not sure, but I stick to my guns anyhow. I know that I won’t regret it.
TO BE CONTINUED...