Dana wiped the sweat accumulating on her forehead and tied her bandana around her fluffy hair a little tighter. She looked straight up the side of the cliff and wondered how she got herself talked into a bit of rock climbing tomorrow. It was not a hard climb for a beginner like her, and she had practiced rappelling yesterday. But she still felt apprehensive and nervous.
Suddenly, an arm came around her neck and pulled her backwards, "Oh, I can't wait--this is going to be awesome!" screamed her best friend, Kellie. They had taken Outdoor Ed together last spring, and now, in the summer before 10th grade, they were camping with Kellie's family in Colorado.
Kellie's dad finished a medical tour in the Army in Iraq, and had recently retired to begin a new practice of his own in a sleepy little community in dusty eastern Washington state. He was the rock climbing instructor who was going to help Dana and Kellie learn the fundamentals. He assured them that they could climb to what ever height they felt comfortable with, which made Dana less nervous. Kellie, on the other hand, was already planning to climb Yosemite's Half Dome. She had plastered pictures of it on her bedroom walls.
"Ahh, you dork, I want to live long enough to get to 10th grade this year!" She pulled one of Kellie's many braids and Kellie let her go. "And I want you to be there, too!"
"Well, we got through ninth grade and Outdoor Ed--we're survivorwomen." Kellie threw a stone up to the top of the eight foot cliff. "This is nothing, right?"
"How's your photography project coming along?" Dana was changing the subject, it left her feeling a little queasy.
"I have a lot of pretty pictures, but I am still waiting for something really exciting and dramatic." She threw another rock up the cliff. "I'm hoping that rock climbing will give me another perspective."
Dana sat on the ground, not knowing if she could take another minute of this discussion. Kellie was obsessed, everything lead to rock climbing and "perspective". On the other hand, Dana thought, they were both strong girls. Mr. Johnson was pretty sure that they could handle this little cliff, and they would tackle more heights the next few days. Dana appreciated the slow breaking in approach but for Kellie, the process could not go fast enough. Dana figured that Kellie was pumped at finding something that combined her artistic interests and her boundless energy, but she wondered if she could keep up with her restless and creative friend. Dana was the tortoise to Kellie's hare.