“You ready?” my friend Josh asked, grinning stupidly and putting his skiing goggles over his eyes.
I nodded, returning a goofy smile, my boots latching onto my skis. We had just finished having a fantastic lunch in a cosy restaurant high up in the Alps in France, and were going to race each other down the hill to the bottom, where our hotel was, since it was starting to get dark.
We slid over to the edge of the steep slope, and before Josh gave me the signal, I shouted, “Later loser! I’ll be at the bottom before you can say ‘France’!” And we were off.
At first, Josh was zooming off in front of me, clouds of snow spraying in all directions and soon enough I could only see his bright helmet. However, I gathered up all my speed, bent my knees, tucked myself so that I was soon also racing off after Josh.
To my delight, I caught up with him in a matter of seconds, and then we were neck in neck. He saw me and saluted, beaming, and I laughed and made a royal wave, before overtaking him, throwing my hands up in celebration. Though the race wasn’t over yet. I still had to win.
I had just looked over my shoulder to see where Josh was (miles away practically!), then looked back, and eyed an older adult skiing much slower than me straight in front, and he was rapidly approaching. In fact, I hardly had time to think, before I nearly crashed into him.
Gasping, I swerved out of the way to the right, missing him by a millimetre. However, I slid over a slippery, icy patch, and wobbled. Breathing a sigh of relief, I tried to regain my balance back, before hearing a click from one of my skis. Oh no. I swore, feeling one ski slowly slipping off my boot. My knees buckled underneath me and soon enough I was tumbling down the enormous hill, snow in my mouth, making crashing noises. At one point my other ski flew off, and my arms were flailing about, trying to grab anyone, anything.
I couldn’t even scream or shout or even murmur; it was impossible. In fact, I thought it was endless, it would never end, this was it. The end.
Then, it happened so fast I had no time to breathe. I stopped. I felt broken, I felt like crying, but it was like there was a block of ice in my throat.
After a few seconds, or minutes, or even hours, of laying there, I saw a whole sea of anxious faces bobbling up, down, all around me. I felt icy tears roll down my hot cheeks. I heard gasps, shouts, people shoving each other. I abruptly saw Josh’s terrified face in front of me, but my vision went blurry all of a sudden, and then everything went dark.
I heard murmurings around me, little whispers. I felt… I felt like I had been ripped into shreds and someone has tried to glue the pieces together. I felt stiff, and I couldn’t move. The pain was unbearable. Even the whispers left my head aching. I groaned, and tried to open my eyelids.
In an instance, I felt a figure beside me, clutching my hand.
“Chloe, Chloe, can you hear me? It’s me, Josh.”
I felt suddenly safe. My best friend was here. I needed him, his voice, his hugs, his smell.
“Josh? What– What’s h-happened?” I shakily managed to croak.
“You’ve been in a skiing accident. You’ve tumbled down a slope. Now you’re in hospital. B-both legs are broken, and you’ve done a lot of damage to your spine…” I could hear the tears in his voice, and his voice cracked at the end.
“Don’t… you’ll make me cry too,” though I was already in tears. I clutched his hand tight, though I winced, because it hurt.
“Chloe… w-what am I going to do? I can’t lose you. You’re my best friend,” he fell onto his knees and started sobbing, still holding my hand.
I managed a small smile, looked at him and said, “I will always be with you, whether you like it or not. I’ll be fine, don’t worry. Now give me a hug.”