“Whoa, that’s high…”
Sitting on a makeshift seat inside an inclined lift made up mainly of metal rods, taking us up fifty meters above everyone else, I could feel my palms sweating. I looked around our metal lift, it reminded me of the old horse-drawn coaches; only, it was made of metal. My eyes then fell at the opening at its side, which has a horizontal bar acting as our protection: to keep us from falling at should we get knocked over by a very strong gust of wind. Being afraid of heights, I admit this is the last place I would like to be. But I can’t miss this chance, travelling so far, and not wanting to disappoint my friends.
“After all, if they can do it, why can’t I?”
But things are always easier said than done, and as I unconsciously looked downwards, I observed through the gaps how everything we left behind down at the stable ground seems to become smaller and smaller with every second. While here in the lift, listening to the squeaks of the pulley that was taking us up higher and higher, my courage feels like it will soon be carried away by the wind.
“Don’t look down...” A girl’s voice interrupted my thoughts. I looked up and saw Therese who sitting to my right. Just like me, she had her feet tied together up to above her ankles with what look like a foam cloth and thick rope. I kind of felt guilty seeing her look like she’s been kidnapped, since all of what is happening right now was sort of my fault. She was keeping her gaze straight ahead, loose strands of her brown hair being tossed by the strong wind. “You’ll just feel worse.” She continued quietly, without looking at me.
I straightened up from leaning forward on my seat and followed her advice. I kept my gaze in front and just looked at the far off outline of the hills surrounding the lake. But I glanced at her to see how she was doing. She had her hands on her lap, looking straight ahead, her face expressionless.
I crossed my arms over my chest, feeling my heart pounding at near breaking point. “How can she be so calm?”
The lift creaked as the crane finally stopped at the jumping point. Our guide motioned to us that it’s safe to stand up. I stood up and hopped clumsily towards the opening of the lift. I couldn’t face the edge so I looked back at our seats, and saw her following my example. She hopped towards me until we were face to face. I could feel our guide hook our feet together to another rope.
“Are you ready?” I asked her in a soft voice.
Flashback (3 years ago)
“Hey… Gabriel..?” Therese called in her usual soft voice.
“Hn?” I replied absentmindedly, while reading a newspaper article.
We were in the library, sitting opposite each other. I was cramming (as usual) on my assignment about financial analysis of a public company, using the financial statements I got from their website. She just arrived from her part time job and was working on her own assignment, but on a different subject. Unlike our first semester in business school, this time, we were classmates on only one subject.
“Would it be alright, if I ask you a favour?”
“What is it?” I asked while writing furiously on my yellow pad. Hopefully I can type and finish this before class starts.
She took a while before replying. “Would it be alright, if I stay with you from now on, before our classes start?”
I stopped writing, looked up at her and frowned, “Why? What’s the matter?”
She shifted uncomfortably and replied, “Well you see… that is…” She turned red. “I’m afraid of one of my classmates.”
I raised my eyebrows, starting to feel concerned. Even if I have known her only for six months, I know that it was unlike her to say anything bad about anyone, let alone say that she is afraid of one. I wonder is something happened. “What? What happened?”
She swallowed and turned redder than a ripe tomato. “Well… you see… he’s…”
“‘He’s’…? Yes?” I prompted.
“He’s invading my bubble...” She finished in almost a whisper.
I felt my jaw dropped as I stared at her. “Huh? What does that mean?” I lightly scratched the side of my head with my pen while looking at the other students across our table. “And here I thought it was something serious.”
She gave a big sigh, leaned forward and drilled her finger at the top of the table to emphasize her point. “This IS serious.”
I looked back at her face and I ended up laughing because her face was contorted like she ate something bad, all just to emphasize her point. “You mean, the table is serious?”
She pulled at her hair. “Nooo..!!! That’s not what I meant..!”
I ended up laughing harder.
“What I meant was, I feel like he is invading my personal space…” She explained with her eyes shut.
I kept on laughing. “That doesn’t make any sense.”
She pouted at first but eventually started laughing with me.
“I-I guess, it does sound ridiculous…” She lightly scratched the right side of her head, just above her ear, her habit whenever she’s thinking.
I stopped laughing after awhile and when I noticed the other students looking at us.
I looked at her with a straight face. “Am I, ‘invading your bubble’?” Then I chuckled.
She gazed back at me with her hazel eyes and shook her head. “If you were invading my bubble, I wouldn’t even be talking to you right now.”
End of flashback.
“I wonder… if I am invading her bubble now?”
I know that she likes to have her space, but as we were standing face to face with each other, I couldn’t tell from her expression whether or not she is all right with this. I also couldn’t meet her gaze, even though we are less than a foot apart. She had her eyes on the side. Was she avoiding my eyes?
I hesitated. This might not be such a good idea.
We were both here because I called a dare. But she knew that I was afraid of heights. She told me it was okay if I didn’t push through with it, but I felt like such a coward--I couldn’t back out.
She then told me that she could go with me if I wanted. But is this really what we should do?
I looked at her right hand on her side. It was trembling.
“Am I just being selfish?”
Was I only thinking of myself…?
“Do you-” I started.
She took a deep breath and embraced me.