Friday, January 27, 2017

"A Slippery Slope" by Betty Rizzo

We stepped out hastily into the frosty air.  It was long past midnight, but the fallen snow reflected off the ground and lit up the sky, shedding everything in a quiet, angelic glow.  My friends and I trudged our way up to the slopes, our sleds lugging in tow behind us.  Icy water seeped into my boots; cold air bit its way into the unprotected space where my gloves and jacket sleeves met on my forearms.  Usually I would be too uncomfortable, too reluctant to continue on the trek, but tonight was different. I was numb. I was comforted by the warm laughter of my friends. I was filled with a bubbly disposition, an undying courage and an anticipation for adventure.  We made it to the top of the mountain and stood there for what felt like forever, high above the sleeping town below us. A flurry of snow fell around us, engulfing us in a fog of misty, chilled air.  Christmas lights on the houses nearby twinkled and faded in and out of the trees that lined the mountain side. There must've been some reason that the slopes had been closed for the weekend, but that thought never crossed our minds; we were too busy stumbling around, yelling at the top of our lungs, and making snow angels.

After a while, we decided we were ready to make our descent. All we needed was a running start and there we went, flying down the mountain on our plastic sleds.  Snowflakes nipped at my face but I didn’t care; adrenaline flowed through me and my blood boiled. We realized quickly that the sleds had no steering capabilities, but that surely didn't stop us from trying our very well best to stay on course. As we tumbled down the mountain, the slope curved around and we ventured into a patch of utter darkness.

It wasn't long after that, that we discovered why the slopes were closed. The first casualty occurred in a swift and single movement. Part of a crushed sled flew up, churning the fresh snow up with it, and crashed down. It teetered on the edge of a steep hill before sliding right down the mountainside.  That saucer was gone forever; we all knew it and We could not stop laughing. The operator of the sled, hannah, sat there bewildered as to how her sled came right up from under her behind.

We strained our eyes in the darkness.  The slope was no longer smooth and snowy, but rocky and uncovered. There was only a thin sheet of slush to cushion our falls now. The warm fire glow from our cabin at the top of the mountain was far out of sight and I knew that my friends would be dead set against hiking back up there and accepting defeat. So we laid there for a time, on the empty trail. I let a thin layer of snow fall and cover me, blanketing my face in frost. Snow clumped on my eyelashes and weighed them down. I thought about falling asleep right there: closing my eyes and letting the night take me, letting the mountain swallow me up whole.

That sounded nice and all, but I knew that it was probably just the onset of hypothermia talking.  there was no turning back. We still had half the mountain to descend, and giant rocks jutted out in every direction before our eyes. I feared gaining momentum. We  found out the hard way that going fast would only make an impact with a rock that much more crippling. So we went down in short little spurts, laughing the whole way down, constantly wiping out. Somehow, my friends would jump right back on their sled  time and time again. We just couldn't feel  pain:  we were invincible, partly from the lack of blood circulation and partly because what we were doing felt so unprecedented and scandalous.   Time flew by and all the sudden we had made it all the way down that slippery slope, that rocky road. By the time we were done,  our shiny new sleds were all broken: they had gashes, cuts and tears in them. We still didn't care. I knew that my friends were feeling the same elation as I was when we were finally tucked back into our beds after the night's festivities. The next morning, we awoke with gashes of our own, shooting pains, and tears in our pants. We didn't complain, only laughed until our stomachs hurt. Our bruises were just a testament to the fun we had: battle scars that memorialized our time together.

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