John shot Sarah a look, gesturing impatiently for her to follow. ‘Come on! We’re getting close.’
She rolled her eyes and smiled, but started to pick up the pace. ‘Sure thing, Boss man. Whatever you say.’ She mock bowed, hinging at the waist as they walked. She was sweating profusely.
‘No sass today, thanks,’ he said, striding along a micrometre in front. ‘You wanted to come. We gotta be there by sundown; if we’re not, we won’t be allowed to join.’ He stared down the tracks at the dark line in the distance. The horizon was nearer now, drawing into slow focus.
A crowd of teens lined the cliff face, bodies turned away from John and Sarah, faces looking down. They were silent.
In the distance, the sun was lower in the sky.
A shorter kid with black wiry hair stepped out to greet them. ‘Here for the competition, J?’
‘We sure are,’ John said, pushing back his cap. ‘What’s the prize this week?’
The crowd of kids cheered and booed as a loud snap punctuated the late afternoon stillness. Small bits of paper were passed to and fro.
‘A thousand. Cash.’ The short kid winked. ‘A big pool. So we had to up the risk, ya know?’
‘Oh, I know. This is Sarah, by the way.’
Sarah smiled in that dazzling way she always did. ‘Charmed.’
‘Hi.’ The kid blushed and rushed on. ‘Well, ah, today’s buy-in is forty. Each. No arguments.’
‘Cool ya jets.’ He counted out the cash and handed it over.
Squeezing Sarah’s hand and letting go, John approached the edge.
The crowd grew quiet.
The line of tracks ran down the cliff-face. Hand over hand he began to descend, hoping he’d last, mind on all of his debts waiting back home.
The world rushed b—