This week's challenge is to write up to 500 words using Lifehouse's song "Halfway Gone" or a photo of a lighthouse as inspiration. The combination reminded me of a harrowing experience I had when I was maybe 20 years old at The Defense Language Institute in Monterey, CA where I was stationed for nearly a year. I was part of a group of "guys" who hung out together. I think I was their mascot. We were all in the Air Force.
It was a rare quiet weekend day when my four "big brothers" and I got to hang out at the beach in Carmel next to Pebble Beach Golf Course, high on the cliffs to the right of us. Mike decided he wanted to go for a walk so all of us followed. The four guys thought it would be fun to climb around the cliffs. Not wanting to be a spoilsport, I agreed. They were all big and strong and I don't think I was yet 100 pounds. I felt safe with them.
Starting out was innocuous enough. Rocky small hills with a slight incline. Then we turned the corner and I saw the huge cliff walls. Wanting to back out, I was assured many others had done this and there was a path. They lied. I followed their lead; and when I started to panic, two were ahead of me and two behind. We were half way between ocean and golf course. The beach led us to that midway point which was very deceiving until rounding the bend.
I knew the sea lions were on the rocks not too far out; but at one point, I could hear them below. Making the mistake of looking down for the seals, I saw the jagged rocks jutting out of the water directly below us and how sheer the cliff had become. I froze. Literally. Could not would not move. The two ahead of me had solid footing. One held the other as he leaned toward me stretching out his arm urging me to let go with one hand and he would grab me. About that time the rock I was holding onto with my right hand started to slide out of the cliff. I was ready to be rescued by helicopter. Unfortunately, it was in the early 70s long before cell phones. And no one knew where we were.
One of the two trailing me decided he would brace me from behind so I could lean against him. I felt him moving around me. His right hand and foot were secure, but as he reached around me to grab hold of a rock to the left of me, he fell backwards off the cliff. I knew those rocks were below. I screamed so loudly and began to cry with both rocks coming loose in my hands. I was sure I was going to die and was sure Tom had fallen to his death. The guys assured me he was fine but I didn’t believe them and wouldn’t look down. Poor Tom climbed back up from the water to show me he was okay. A guardian angel guided his fall because he didn’t even have a scratch.
I don’t remember much of the rest except somehow they got me from that spot and we climbed up to the golf course as soon as we had a path. I cried the entire way because of sliding rocks. No more rock climbing. Ever.