“I hate skiing.” she complained as she leaned back in her boots, her skis crunching against the much too icy snow, while she slid a few feet closer to the lift. She planted her poles in the topping powder and tilted her skis inward to stop herself.
“I did for a while too,” her cousin said. “It takes a while to get used to, but once you get good, it’s really fun.”
She looked at him and shook her head. She moved one foot in front of the other, making that high pitched scraping noise in her thick snow pants. She seemed to make this noise every time she shifted from a stationary position, unlike Hien who had thin, small, tight clothing. He had been skiing since he was little.
She leaned forward in her boots again. She pushed down on the ball of her feet to keep her balance. She scooted herself forward, just behind Hien. She escaped the snow by ducking her head down and getting pushing herself under the small overhang created by the chairlift. She nodded at the lift operator and noticed his ruffled, would-be santa beard if it wasn’t too grey, as she slowly continued to slidedown the shallow slope to the red bar to load on. She dragged her poles behind her in the thin powder over the ice. She quickly lifted her poles and stopped herself over the red line marking where to board. She felt the four-seated chairlift make contact with her from underneath and lift her. It swung slightly for a few seconds, bouncing.
The wind began to pick up as they slowly cleared the first (or last, depending on which way you were going) patch of woods, intensifying the wind and stinging her face against the condensation on her useless balaclava.
They began to approach the first pole. She turned her to the right head to watch the skiers whip through the woods. They stopped and started, working their way down the hill, back and forth. She stopped.
She listened to the whistle of the wind against the trees. She placed her head, which was covered in many layers, against the snowy pole connecting the chairlift to the wire that held it up. She focused on the soft clunk of her plastic helmet knocking on the metal. It was a moment. It could never be recreated. She lived in the now. The point in time that once was and will never be once again. The sound that was for a moment.
The now, she pondered. It is where we live and thrive but cannot find. Where we are born and die. Where we are too preoccupied with our humble concerns to see that to know will continue us, for the better or worse.
Hien shifted. He was leaned against his armrest. He was almost limp. His temple was dug into his arm that he had folded inward.
She very much disliked Hien. She did not hate him, but he was always right, or more like there was nothing you could do to stop him from being the most important thing, and no one is going to tell something so important that they’re wrong. She didn’t hate him, but she did hate all of his complaining. How he constantly complained about how the left half of his chest had been aching so horribly when he had only grazed a tree.
She hadn’t been able to ski anywhere she wanted his mom forcing her to ski with him. She continually had to ski down the simpler side route to whichever double black diamond he was skiing down. He would stop and start frequently while working his way down the slope. He would take so long, she would often wait nearly half an hour for him at the bottom of each chairlift (if she did not wipe out, that is), leaning back and forth in her boots.
She had wondered if she could leave and tell his mother that she had “lost” him. She would love to take her time through some sparse, shallow wooding. She would go back and forth in the powder, get out of the wind. It would be nearly warm compared to the cold dry chairlift. It would feel so good to finally be overdressed and to be able to take off her gloves. She almost might enjoy her head getting itchy; To not be in the bitter cold.
She glanced at Hien. She could hardly see his face through all of his garments. She was quite glad he was asleep. She hated dragging herself through the awkward times up. Sitting, staring straight ahead and not thinking about what she was looking at, but sharing one thought with Hien although not saying a word.
He had not woken up and she figured it would be time to wake him. They were around a minute away from the lift and about 75 feet. She placed her black glove on his left shoulder. She shook him lightly enough so that only his shoulder and upper arm mover at all.
“Hien,” She heaved impatiently.
He did not move whatsoever. She was pressed for time to wake him up at the this point.
“HIEN,” She repeated, putting emphasis on each syllable. They were nearly at the lift. They had past the “Tips Up” sign and the operator had noticed. She pushed her hand around the right side of his neck, lifting up his head. It was limp. His head flopped to the left, unbalancing him and making him fall to the left on to her. She crunched her fingers and wrists back and and screamed. The operator stood up in his glass box. He stared at
His ski stuck in the ground and popped off. She fell over as soon as she hit the snow. They had stopped the lift. Hien had rolled nearly eight feet. She stayed. She had no idea what to think. Tears began to roll down her face. It stung as the cold, sharp wind hit her wet cheeks. The operators had rushed to Hien and were performing CPR.