My palms are sweaty. Which is only going to help so much… I hate this part.
I’m staring at it and from here it looks like it stretches to Heaven itself.
Even if it did, I wouldn’t be getting up it. Sign me up for Hell. At least it’s got a highway and I can drive there.
‘Okay, second team. Ready at the ropes.’ I’m in third team. Apprehensive. Always was better with my words than with my muscles. Chalk’s on my palms now. Magnesium carbonate. Designed to get a better grip. Helps with climbing.
Sweats just making it run off though, like it’s trying to escape. It doesn’t want to see what’s going to happen.
‘Third team, time to go. Get a good grip. Michaels, you are to get off the floor this time!’ That’s me. Never even got off the floor.
I’ve got the rope between my hands. Rough, scratchy against my skin. Fingers are better for typing, not this useless physical. I don’t want to be here. I can feel my skin shredding already.
There it was. The whistle. Straight through my head. Stabbing my brain. Raise my hands up, gripping tight. Screw my eyes shut, start pulling. I can feel the strain in my muscles, biceps are burning. Pull, Richard, pull. Then you can go shower, get yourself sorted. Pull. You’re doing it, you’re doing it, that’s it!
Wait, what’s that sound? So focused on the rope.
Is that… laughter?
Open my eyes and there they are. Everybody, pointing and laughing. Even Fat Michael, out of breath is descending and laughing with those stupid belly laughs. Pointing.
At me. Just like everyone else.
I’m sat on the floor with my hands clasped to the rope above me. ‘Son, you’re the only person I’ve ever met who finished lower on the rope than he started. Hit the showers!’
I can feel the tears starting in my eyes, the burning. I can’t take it. I run, run run run. Got to get away.
Raise your hands if you weren’t good at sports? Yeah, that’s me.
The Idiot in Tin Foil