Free (Flash Fiction)

Susanne awoke to the sun cracking over the clear horizon. She lay on her side in her sleeping bag and smiled. The air was cold and crisp and the nipped at the end of her nose. She watched the orange flare of the rising sun flood the sky with light. She stretched her sleepy muscles and got dressed.

She ate her breakfast slowly, a banana, some cereal, and a protein shake, and stared at the canyon wall. The red surface was flat and smooth and went straight up. She reflected on the different layers that marked the side of the rock and wondered what the canyon looked like eons ago.

She warmed up her muscles and gave them all a proper stretch. Her phone gave a brief vibrate from the bed of her truck. The vibration gave her an unwanted tension, so she opted for a brief session of yoga. It did the trick. She gathered her gear and stopped half way through when the phone vibrated again.

“Where are you?” read the first message.
“We need to talk. Seriously. -Bob,” read the second.

Susanne took a deep breath and took in the desert view around her. The air was cool and still. There wasn’t a single sound to be heard. She felt the weight of her pack and was overwhelmed by its burden. Suddenly, something once so valid and necessary seemed filled with dead weight. She looked at the clips and the rope, hooks and carabiners, and saw them for what they were. Tools of restriction, weapons of imposition. The phone vibrated again.

Susanne tossed the pack into the bed of her truck and walked off with only her gloves, some climbing chalk, and a bottle of water. She wedged her fingers and dug her feet into the ageless fracture in the stone and made her way up. The ascent was exhilarating. Her weightless body leapt at every command. She sprung from handhold to handhold without fear, laughing out loud. With each gain in elevation she felt her burden fall away. She reached the top well before midday.

Susanne rested there for several hours, laying on the rock, drinking her water, and enjoying the silence around her. Somewhere in the distance, in the back of her truck, her phone vibrated.

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