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The Cliffside

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Missouri's entire life revolved around being free. She had the opportunity of a lifetime: two weeks to climb the polynomial Cliffside before taking on a new career. What did she find at the top? Will she come back down after she finds out exactly what is on top of that Cliff?

Adventure / Romance
Age Rating:

Ain't Nothing Nice About Missouri

Drip. Drip. Drip.

The constant drip of a leaky faucet from the kitchen was pounding so loud in my own head that I could barely hear my own damn thoughts. How is that even possible? I lifted my head off the pillow, just in time to see the screen of my phone light up. It was a text from Kelly.

Sweet Kelly. She was a childhood friend till the end. Like they always say, 'Sandbox love never dies.' That was exactly how it was with her albeit the extreme opposite personalities.

Carelessly, I let the phone slip from my hands and fall onto the floor. The loud thud from it could've woken the whole damn town.

I could care less.

Before I dragged myself out of bed, I let a groan escape from my mouth. I sure as hell was going to let the whole world know I did not give a damn.

My protest was short lived as my dad's shouting could easily be heard, even with my bedroom door closed. “Dad, I’m coming!”

Quickly, I slugged the worn jeans over my hips and placed on a hand on the doorknob before looking down and realizing that I forgot a shirt.

Just as I had the hole of the shirt over my head, a thick waft of smoke hit me in the face, “Oh fuck!” I cursed under my breath and ran out.
Racing down the short hall and turning right into the kitchen was dear ole dad. "Stove won't work right!" He slammed things around, making me dodge the items flying through the air.

I took a deep breath. “Dad, you can’t just make breakfast whenever you want!” I dodged the last fork and went straight to work. I took the pan that was smoldering and threw it in the sink.

“I thought it was pancake day.” Dad played the innocent card, his hands in the air. I couldn't help but chuckle. After all, he was right.

"Yes and I make the pancakes on Saturdays." I shook my head. It was the only way to keep from laughing. I couldn't be mad at him. It wasn't his fault he was like this. None of it was.

After mom had died, he tried. He got stuck with raising a baby girl all by himself. Dad had been one of the few men to get a job at the factory and when the accident happened. He just wasn't the same. Of course he wasn’t. Who would? He lost both of his legs in one day. A year before that his wife died, leaving him stuck with a two year old.

The day of the accident, one of the presses had broken and they had hired some to come and fix. Dad said he was the only one who could fix that particular press. The large four-hundred pound handle had come tumbling down and crushed his bones to dust. Leaving Dad bond to a wheelchair.

“You want them extra fluffy?” I tried not think about it. The anger it caused to swell up inside me whenever it inconvenienced him in any way.

“You gonna break that spoon girl.” He motioned to me as he looked over me. I was aggressively mixing up the ingredients. Half of it had already been flung out onto the counter.

"Shit. Sorry dad." I grabbed a towel and cleaned up the mess. All he could do was share a smile with me. That man had no harsh feelings about his accident. He didn't care. As long as he could go fishing and spend time with his friends; he was still the luckiest man on earth.

Dad wheeled himself around the kitchen table and put out plates for two. “What’s the plans for a beautiful Saturday morning?” He looked at me as if I were the activity coordinator on a cruise ship.

Which was quite the opposite. I would rather be the last woman on earth. I know I didn't get it from him, but I always wondered if I got it from my mother. “Kelly texted me. I assume she has some dastardly plan to wreak havoc on the town.” I joked. Dad just kept up with his oblivious smile. He didn't mind Kelly Arneson. She was more trouble than me, but he knew she made me happy...most days.

Kelly was notorious for leaving things things unfinished. Including her texts. She had texted me that she wanted lunch, but couldn't be bothered to include a location.
It didn't matter. The reservation only had three places to eat and she wouldn't be caught dead in two of the three.

After I shoved the last of pancakes in my mouth I kissed dad on the head. With A jacket and brush in hand, I was out the door.

The restaurant was a tacky little hole in the wall, but I understood why she liked it so much. It was the fancier of the three. The only place around here that had connections to the cities.

A monstrosity of neon colors attacked my senses. It was Kelly and all her crazy fashion sense. If that's what she wanted to call it. Kelly was waving an arm lined with bangles like I couldn't spot her shade of crazy a mile away.

“What the hell are you wearing?” I looked around to see if anyone else had spotted the escaped psych ward patient. It was like the more you stared, the worse it got.

“All the latest fashion my dear!” She perked up. Kelly stood up and twirled for me. As if I wanted a full 360° of THAT. “Like the nails?” She flashed matching neon acrylics in my face.

“Ah, yea. They’re great.” I reeled back in disgust. They really were awful. Kelly rolled her eyes.

By the time we finally stopped bickering, a waiter appeared. He was nervous. His pen was apparently shaking. Kelly had the audacity to flirt with him as her order rolled out of her mouth like a grocery receipt.
"Just a lemonade, please." Was all I could muster as I hid my face behind the menu. He tried to be kind, but Kelly couldn't let the poor boy go.

The second the waiter had slipped away Kelly was at it again. Her mouth wouldn't stop moving. She was the person to go to when you wanted to know anything about anyone. If you asked, she could practically give you someone's social security number!

“Kelly.” I had to cut her off. I couldn't suffer listening to her gab. “I’m leaving tomorrow.” I ripped off the band-aid. Kelly gasped, almost dropping her lemonade. She stared at me in disbelief. I couldn't control my body quick enough to stop me from rolling my eyes at her.

“Mo!” She shrieked. Half of the restaurant had lifted their heads from their plates to gawk at us. We had their undivided attention thanks to Kelly. “You can’t just leave again.”

Kelly was right. I couldn't leave. Who just up and leaves? It was unheard of, in our town. Something in me just screamed. I needed to be free. Every slight inconvenience and I was packing. There was something wrong with me.

Kelly's whining had grabbed me and pulled me back to reality. The quests in the restaurant were still gawking at her annoying high pitched voice. "Kelly!" I shouted. My voice carried over.

Her entire demeanor changed. "Oh, I got you a gift!" Her personality was serious and straight to the point. She retrieved a bag from under the table and set it in between us. I studied her face for any signs of a smirk, but she was dead serious about this.

“If it’s makeup, I’m just gonna toss it in the fucking trash.” I grumbled as I pulled out mounds of tissue paper. "Really?" I looked back at her. She really had to use pink tissue paper?

The box that was hidden underneath ten pounds of tissue paper was unmarked. I studied the box for a label. Anything to tell me that it indeed was trash worthy. "Oh wow!" Inside the box was a hunting knife; complete with a holster. I was stunned that it was actually a thoughtful gift.

I stood up. “Ohmygosh. You’re not going to put that on in here!?” Kelly looked around nervously as if she had just embarrassedme seconds later.

“You bet your sweet ass I am!” I slapped the holster on right in the middle of the restaurant. I could care less if everyone stared. It was almost too beautiful not to be stared at.

"Ugh." Kelly spat. "I can't believe you're fawning over it...in the middle of the restaurant!"

“Wow, I think this is the nicest thing you’ve ever given me! Thank you!” I blocked out her pleas to stop. I even held it up in the air to make her more uncomfortable.

"Miss, you can't have weapons in here." The waiter was shaking with nerves when he stepped up behind me. He couldn't look Kelly in the eyes, unless he wanted her to lock him up in her shed. His eyes kept drawn to the floor.

"Oh yea. About that. We're about to leave. Can we get the checks please?"

After the checks were cashed out Kelly had begged for twenty minutes in the parking lot that I come over to her house. I was reluctant as her parents were somewhat odd.

With my hand on the doorknob of her house, I was reminded why we were such great friends. I was the muscle and she was the brains. She could convince anyone to do anything. She had a way with words.
Walking into her home was always a culture shock. Her parents were the only people in the reservation to be a Christian household. “Hello Mr. and Mrs. Arneson. Good bye Mr. and Mrs. Arneson.” I peered inside their tea room, where they were nestled inside.

Once we had at least acknowledged her parents we rushed up the stairs to her room and for a brief moment, it felt like we were little kids again. We threw ourselves on her bed and laughed, taking in the moment.

Kelly didn't give me a second to breathe, let alone to relax. She cleared her throat to get my attention. She was standing in the doorway to her bedroom with her fathers clippers in hand. “You thinking what I’m thinking?” She asked in a devious voice.
Forcing me down into the chair, she cackled. She snaked a towel around my neck, “Do I get to at least pick out the style?” I grabbed her wrist before she could touch my head with the clippers.

She groaned. "You!? Style? Hah!" She laughed. But I knew exactly what I wanted. I was going to taste every bit of freedom this time around.

"All of it."

My once long black hair that grew past my waist, that had always been pulled back in a braid was on the floor. It had been completely butchered. A large grin displayed across my face as I looked back at a stranger in the mirror.

In our town, no one ever cut their hair unless there was a death. If someone asked, I would say there was. The death of me.

Kelly snuck me out of her bedroom window when we had finished plucking every hair out of her pink carpet. I pulled the hood of my jacket over my head so no one would recognize me.

On my drive home, I pulled the hood closer to my face. Everyone knew my jeep, but they didn't know what I had done. Not yet. Even at home I was able to skirt past my dad.

Behind the closed door of my room I was finally able to peel off my clothes. I crawled directly into bed without a care. My arm hung out of the covets, hovering over my bag. I had stuffed that bag full the night before. I did it out of anger. No one told me what I could and couldn't do.

At four in the morning, my alarm jolted me awake. I wasn't ready. I forgot that I had made sure to set it to 'loud ass siren' to insure that I was waking up.

By five, I was on the road and already cursing at the GPS. Thankfully, the interstate was clear and I could swerve all over the place if needed. Then, at nine, I finally pulled into the parking lot for the Cliffside monument.

I drove passed the sign that clearly stated that hiking was only allowed until six at night. No camping was allowed. Bull.

Two nights before, I laid everything out. Four pairs of plain shirts. Two pairs of pants. One long and one short. I rolled everything up nicely and packed my bag tight.

Getting out of the car, I threw my bag on the ground. Leaving my attention to the holster I was trapping on my leg. When I was nice and tug I straighten out my posture. I stood right in front of the main welcome sign. Right where the concrete stops and the grass begins. I was ready to throw myself all in for this. I was partially hoping I'd just disappear all together.

That first step with the wet grass squeaking underneath my boots was exhilarating. The fresh morning air with a hint of dew made it more enjoyable. I took in deep gulps of the air and I took long strides through the fanned out greenery.
The infamous path had ten markers all together. Each one marked how many miles you had hiked up the cliff.
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