Waiting For Dusk #1.5
A Short Story
Hanging from the edge of a cliff wasn't the way Andrew Martin planned to start his day. He took a chance setting up his tripod too close to the canyon's edge and now there he was, praying someone would come to the rescue. Luckily his good friend finds him and they head off to El Tovar for lunch. Andrew isn't done taking chances for the day. He hears about a new girl working at the restaurant. When he meets her, she's all he can think about. It's 1927 and the world has certain rules to follow. Does he dare break them to be with the girl of his dreams?
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Andrew’s body swayed perilously from the edge of the cliff. He kicked his legs, groping blindly for traction against the canyon wall. His heart pumped wildly and he felt the drumming in his ears. He tried to dig his fingers deeper into the dirt wall.
I’m a dead man, he thought as the sweat poured down his back, all because I wanted to capture the perfect sunrise. He barely could recall what happened just a few short minutes ago. He attached the camera to his tripod, then inched it closer to the canyon’s edge to get the right shot. The golden edge of the sun had started to make its appearance and he felt the excitement well up inside. He finally had his first Autochrome plate that would take the pictures in color. As he watched, waiting for the perfect moment, something fell from the camera. Andrew reached to grab it. The next thing he knew he was over the edge, fighting for his life.
His mind raced. His short seventeen years flashed before his eyes. He saw his little brother running toward him, arms outstretched, red hair blowing in the wind. Behind him, his younger sister screamed, dark hair and eyes so much like his father’s, that he saw the pain on both their faces. His mother, her auburn hair and porcelain skin, seeped into his brain. He heard her Irish accent as she spoke. She was there to soothe him in his last moments.
Something about the vision made him fight harder to stay alive. “Why did I do this? Somebody help me!”
It was so early in the morning, not many were awake to hear his cries. Andrew had only wanted to get the perfect sunrise over the Grand Canyon. He had been getting up early for days waiting for just the right one. Instead it became his day of reckoning. He would die for a perfect sunrise.
Suddenly a rope slapped him on the side of his head. “Grab it!” a voice above commanded. He recognized the owner and didn’t know if he should rejoice or prepare for the scolding of his life. “I can’t, Jack,” he yelled to him. “If I let go, I’ll fall.”
“So fall!” the voice answered back.
“It’s a mile down. I don’t think I’d survive.” Andrew felt the sweat trickle down his forehead. Every muscle in his body ached and begged for relief.
“Oh, you’ll survive, alright.” Jack’s voice sounded almost too calm with a hint of sarcasm.
“Are you an idiot?” Even as he clung to the wall for his life, he chastised himself for calling his friend and mentor that name.
“Some have called me worse.”
“Are we going to keep having this conversation or are you going for help?” Andrew yelled out. “Jack, help me.”
“I already told you, grab the rope.”
Andrew’s heart pounded. It felt as if it was in his throat, cutting off his breathing. He inhaled enough canyon dirt to fill half his lungs, and couldn’t hold on much longer. He tried to make a plan in his head. If he reached with one hand, could he hold on with the other? “Alright! I’ll do it!”