Scafell Pike #1

It felt as though there were small fires burning in each of the muscles of Lu’s legs. Ribbons of pain ran along the bottoms of her feet where blisters had formed and broken. But Lu did not stop walking.

Loose rock shifted under the treads of her thick walking boots. The sun was high and bright, but obscured behind a thick canopy of misty clouds. Lu was moving steadily closer to those rolling hills of vapor which hung above her head. She was climbing into the clouds and escaping the world below.

The environment around her was so uncomplicated, life stripped bare of unnecessary accompaniments. All that she could see was the white sky, iron-grey rock and tufts of emerald green grass. She was climbing the tallest mountain in England, escaping from her life and rising higher than anyone else in the country. At the summit, she would find something invaluable, freedom.

All at once, the world fell away. Suddenly, there was nothing solid above or to either side of her, only empty air. Lu was standing on the summit and there was nowhere higher to go.

The first thing that she felt was a sinking sensation in her stomach as all of the security she had known in her life was stripped away. Lu was alone, exposed on a broad pinnacle of rock jutting into the sky. If she walked a hundred paces to either side, she would be trying to walk on clouds.

Her heart raced and she felt something horribly familiar stir inside her. Anxiety, a cold hand gripping her heart. The summit was not a pill which cured all ills. It was a task like any other. She had overcome it and that gave her some sense of achievement, but she had been a fool to think that it would eliminate her unhappiness.

A gaping hollow seemed to be growing inside Lu’s chest. It was dragging her towards the top of a steep cliff. She dropped to her knees and hunched behind a low boulder. It was a relief like nothing she had ever felt before to have something shielding her from the yawning vacuum beyond the summit.

Lu heard voices and the breath caught in her throat.


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