right hand pointing



  Clifford Garstang

No Sudden Moves

     I’m trekking with Jake, six days out of Phokara, nearing Annapurna Sanctuary. He tears up hillsides, skates down dusty slopes, devours suspicious rice and lentils like a ravenous bear. He looks like a bear, with his bushy, brown beard, his burly shoulders and chest. As I follow behind, always behind, I wonder when the bear will turn on me, engulf me.

We’ve come to a ravine, bottomless from the looks of it, lined with jagged rock. Jake scampers across the plank-and-rope bridge, turns and waits. The sun seems close here, at over 10,000 feet, and although the air is cool, the world glows too bright – the ice fields above, the terraced valley in the distance – and I squint at the treacherous planks.

“Come on, Oliver,” Jake calls. Part challenge, part impatience. We’ve been friends a long time. He drops his pack, wipes the sweat from his dark brow.

I step onto the bridge, as boldly as I dare, but I’m thinking of Jake, of close quarters in the huts we’ve shared, occasionally a single bed, linked, always breathing his scent. He must know how hard it is for me.

“Ollie,” he shouts. “Be careful!”

The span sways even as I take the first step. There’s wind here, it roars in the crevasse, catches my pack like a sail. I creep forward, gripping the slick rope.

Just a few feet remain. Jake is within reach, hands outstretched, and it’s all I can do to keep myself from jumping into his arms.





Table of Contents
ContributorsMain Page