Smiling, with hesitation, Gladys turned to the instructor and nodded a small nod that could have been missed by the people gathered around. Terrified, in one way, while absolutely invigorated with actual life she stepped forward. She’d not felt this way since, well, forever and a day. She looked up, at the wall, telling herself that the distance was not that far but far enough for her to think twice. She scolded herself, again, for the tenth time today. The ride over in the car, walking into the complex and, pretty much, the entire last few hours had been filled with doubt.
Closing her eyes, feeling her breath, she remembered his face, that sweet face that she’d never forget even if she’d not seen him for many a year. She still missed him, the one, that single man that turned her head and kept her heart jumping to the moon and back. She smiled, just a small little smile, opened her eyes and stepped forward while whispering to Simon, her instructor, that she was ready.
Looking across she could see family, friends, gathering people and the press. To think that her little stunt had gathered so much attention was an understatement but she didn't care about that as she’d made a promise. That promise, she reminded herself, had been outstanding for near 12 years. She felt the harness tighten slightly as the slack vanished. “Take it slow and if you need to stop then just let me know!” said Simon with kindness in his voice.
Lifting her left leg, placing her foot onto a hold, she reached up and grasped the green aboriginal. How or why she knew the names of such things escaped her but, just maybe, she’d actually taken in a few words from the instructional videos detailing how to climb up an indoor wall. All those years ago she’d laughed at the thought of traversing such a thing but, on her wedding day, that day of days, she’d made that promise to love, to hold, to remain faithful and, funnily enough, just once, to make it to the top of a climbing wall.
Of all the people in the world, in any country of the land, she never thought that she’d meet someone like him. He was kind, confident, relaxed, understanding and, above all, nothing like the bun wearing hipsters that seemed to wear skinny jeans these days. She’d seen a few in the crowd behind her but, as the thoughts marched into her mind, she threw them away as she had a promise to complete. With one last look around her, she noticed her grandson, standing looking proud at his Grandmother. He waved his hand while still holding onto his Teenage Militant Ninja Dolphin, or whatever it was called, which made her resolve strengthen.
She grasped the hold tighter and lifted herself from the ground placing her weight onto her foot. Bringing herself vertically level to the wall she placed her other foot onto the hold and smiled. Cheers escaped from the people behind her. Lifting a leg, it quickly found the next hold and, looking up, she reached for the next aboriginal. Sure, of course they’d made it very easy for her but what did she expect from her 74-year-old body. She, herself, expected to make it to the top no matter what happened.
Fear crept into her resolve and she felt that rising danger and her mind asked her to stop. Her leg moved, with a slight shake, but it found the next hold. The promise surfaced within her mind, reminding her, pushing her, ensuring that she carried on. Her hand moved, her legs moved and within seconds she’d moved up a few more sections. After this she was definitely going to treat herself to a small steak, possibly with some wine. A little wry smile appeared at the thought of wine, “Yes, wine would be a good thing!” she told herself.
Looking up she could see four more aboriginal holds to go. Legs moved and then there were two remaining. Once near the top she only had to touch the remaining sloper and it would all be over. So far, with all the commotion, it had all seemed to be a bit tiring but it would be worth it. Her mind flashed various images and, as she reached the final aboriginal, she knew that all she had to do was reach for the sloper. Her mind started to escape into the past, to him, to her late husband that had made her the happiest she’d ever been. Reaching up, inches left, she muttered the words, “This is for you!” Touching the sloper she closed her eyes and felt his warm kiss across her lips as she repeated the words, “This is for you. I made you a promise and I keep my promises! I miss you dearly and still love you”.
She looked behind her, nodded and felt the rope remove all slack and she let go of the wall. Gently descending the tears escaped along with a great big beaming smile. The gathered people cheered as her feet found solid ground and, at long last, she’d completed the vows she’d made all those years previous.