Flash Fiction: Hold On Tight (479 words)

The cliff edge was barely wide enough to fit them all shoulder to shoulder. Cerena tucked herself against Vardan’s side, her arm tucked in front of his, and Taben and Leonne held hands, just for space. Damion turned sideways, one foot braced against a large stone, and he leaned out, looking at the dark blue water beneath them. Aymee was just behind him, catching herself on his hand, and looking down too. Behind them, they had each left a bundle of their jackets and boots and socks and jewelry, and left them weighted down with a stone. They stood on the edge in breeches and shirts, bare toes rattling in the loose stone.

“We’re not doing this,” Leonne said, as if she couldn’t believe the last mile she’d hiked to reach here.

Cerena gave her a too-wide, nervous smile.

Aymee just looked at her over Damion’s shoulder and nodded. “Oh, yes, we are,” she said.

“It’s safe, right?” Damion asked, but he was already braced for it, ready to jump in a moment.

“You ask too many questions,” Taben told him. But he was shaking a little. Leonne tightened her fingers around his to still them, and smiled when he squeezed back.

“It’s safe,” Vardan promised. “I’ve done it before.”

“You just stole half the fun, just like that,” Taben said.

Vardan shot him a look. Taking a step forward, he glanced around at the others. “It’s deep,” he promised. “See, no white for yards.”

The breeze pulled at their clothes, pressed it close to their bodies, and pulled their hair out behind them. Cerena caught her braid, and held onto it. Leonne just shook her head to free her hair from her ears. Damion shifted even closer to the edge, and Aymee stayed close beside him.

“So,” Taben said after a moment. “Do we count down?”

“Are we all going at once?” Cerena asked.

Vardan looked down at her, mouth twisted in a smile. “Do you want me to throw you?”

She glared at him.

“All at once,” Leonne said quickly. She nodded, more to herself than to them. “That would be best, right?”

“It does keep any yellowed skins from being left at the top,” Damion said, and he looked slyly to Taben, then laughed as he caught Taben giving him the exact same look.

“All at once,” Vardan agreed. He slid his fingers through Cerena’s, then held his hand out for Leonne’s. “Come on.”

Taben grabbed Damion’s hand, Damion took Aymee’s, and they all slid one step closer.

“Oh stars,” Cerena breathed after her first look down.

“Ready?” Leonne asked.

Slowly, they each nodded.

“One…” Vardan said.

They stepped closer, leaned back farther.

“Two…”

Toes over the edge, black-blue water outlining their dusty edges.

“Three.”

And they slid more than they jumped, cliff climbing away behind, air leaving their lungs on a laugh and a scream, and they held on tight.

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