I trembled with terror as my eyes slammed open at first-light. Frost covered the tip of my numb nose, and Shannon’s white lips had patches of purple. She’s dying, I thought. How am I gonna explain this shit to her father? “Hello, Mr. Jane, I took your daughter skiing, and now, she’s dead.” That won’t go over so well in our small town of gossip. It’s not like I’m well-liked in our town anyway. People already wonder what a girl like Shannon is doing with someone like me. I could feel the gossip in the looks I’d get at the grocery store. I remember the look I got when I bought Shannon’s engagement ring (which I haven’t given to her yet). The woman asked me three times if I was sure I’d wanted to buy the ring. She didn’t have to ask who. She said something about how it was a cheap ring for a quality girl. I’d saved for a year for that damn ring only to have the clerk tell me it wasn’t the best. You see, that’s how wealthy Shannon is. Anything I bought her was meaningless to everyone but her. I’d bring her parents’ wine for dinner and they’d look at me like I was insulting them with what they considered to be cheap wine. I couldn’t handle the pressure of not living up to their expectations. It was emotionally draining. And now, Shannon had an abortion. I wondered what I was doing with my life. I mean, maybe her parents were right about me all along. Maybe I am worthless to Shannon. The words and emotions that I’d tried to drown out started to become more reasonable than not.
“Wake up!” I said, patting her shoulder. It wasn’t a light pat. It was the frightening wake-up someone’s in the house pat.
“Where am I?” Shannon asked, crawling to a sitting position. Shannon’s red eyes gave me pause. She was starting to become dehydrated. The only thing we had left to drink was the wine bottles I’d brought for her parents. This time, I’d ordered some fancy African wine. It was expensive, at least for me it was, and I’m sure it was something they hadn’t had before. Maybe that would impress them. But we’re down to one bottle of wine. Sure, we tried to drink the snow, but being on the inside of the lift, not much came through. We only brought the wine by accident. Shannon thought she’d placed her water bottles in her bag, but it was wine. “I feel dizzy.”
I uncorked the last bottle of wine. “Drink some.”
“No water, is there?”
“Too irresponsible to be a father.”
“You’re still blaming me for this?”
“You just had to go skiing.”
“Wine will have to do.” I held her head like a mother feeding her newborn baby a bottle for the first time. Shannon’s lips began to crack.
“Enough,” she said, turning her head to spit.
“There!” I said, pointing.
“Hey!” we both yelled, waving as the lift swayed in the light breeze.
“Stop moving. Stop moving,” Shannon said, “this thing is gonna fall.”
I place both hands on her shoulders. “We’re gonna make it through this, okay?”
The lift buckles again, and Shannon swims air to grip anything stationary.
“We’re gonna die. We’re so gonna die.”
I placed my finger to my lips. “Shh.”
“Don’t tell me to shut up!”
“Hey!” I said to the approaching trail of workers.
“Up here!” Shannon said, waving.
A girl removed her Air Pods, looking at the lift. “Shit…people are stuck!”
“What are you talking about?” her friend said.
The lift had begun to have fits of jerks, each more violent than the last.
“I’m gonna die!” Shannon said.
“No, we’re not,” I said less than convincing.
Panic jolts through my veins as the lift dangles by a thread. A crowd begins to gather, pointing at us as if we were zoo animals.
“We’re dead,” Shannon says, almost as if to give up hope.
“No, we’re not…”
The lift separates from the cable. We bounce on the four walls, swimming air, and come to a violent halt.
I came to, shaking my head to blurry eyes, seeing Shannon either knocked unconscious or dead. The door slammed open as a rescue crew, pulls us from the ski lift.
“Shannon!” I said as the workers place her on a stretcher.
“You’ll see her later,” an emergency worker said.
“Is she dead?” I asked.
“I have to be honest—”
“Yes, be honest,” I said.
“She might not make it through the night.”
I was told the hospital and traveled through the snowstorm.
I hope she’s not dead. If so, her father’s gonna kill me.