Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Valley (08/10/06)
TITLE: The Highest Gear
By Rachel Rudd
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If only I could catch a glimpse of the goal, Frances pondered to herself. This hollow doesn’t allow me to see anything.
Her left hand clicked the chain into a higher gear when the path turned sharply into an incline. As the elevation increased, sweat began to pool like the dew on her brow. Her breath came in short spurts of gathered air.
It must be a beautiful view from the top. I can hardly wait.
The brakes abruptly gripped the tires with a vice-like grip. A pile of rocks guarded the entrance to the outlook. Rocks skipped over the precipice beside her into oblivion.
This is not good. I’ll have to go back down into the dale and try the other route. It’s a good thing this race isn’t timed.
Trees whipped by in a flash of color with her descent. A clearing opened ahead in a patch of dense foliage and Sarah steered herself into its embrace. The light of the open valley faded into a dark covering of fir trees.
I think I can make it this way. The path seems to be climbing. I bet there’s a sharp bend around that corner.
The crooked way guided her tires into unknown territory. The familiarity of the valley faded into foreign hollows and cavernous outcrops.
This can’t be right. Maybe I should turn around…strange. I’m going downhill. What’s that up ahead?
A recognizable field shed light upon her surroundings.
I’m right back where I started from! Haven’t I accomplished anything in the past three hours?
Defeat washed over her face with a single tear rolling down her cheek. Her gaze traveled over the meadow. In the middle of the fragrant flowers grabbing her attention, a lone mustard bush scratched its proud existence into a competitive world.
..."Faith as a mustard seed"...Alright, then, here we go!
With her hope renewed, she steered for the trail less traveled. Trees and thorns narrowed in upon her. Stinging nettles burned their fire into her throbbing legs. A sudden slope in the hillside pushed her strength beyond its limits.
I don’t know if I can do this. How am I going to make it to the top?
Perspiration seeped through every pore of her body. Tiny blood vessels on her forehead mixed their juice with her sweat. When she had spent every ounce of strength she possessed, a rocky ledge appeared.
The top. The view. Miles spread out before her in a display of creative wonder unparalleled. Huge rivers shrunk to the size of a single line lazing across the landscape. Forests alive with wildlife gathered their strength together into a dome of green. The sky kissed the neighboring mountains with a gentle touch of shadows and light.
How majestic is Your name in all the earth!
Her eyes narrowed to the route before her. No goal appeared to cheer her in its finality. Her shoulders sagged and her forehead creased into dozens of lines. The realization was a mountain on her heart.
The bushes behind her rustled with an announcement.
“Hello, is anyone over there?” A lone rider appeared.
“Yes, I’m here…I’m Sarah.”
“Hey, Sarah, would you like me to ride beside you the rest of the way? I can help break the path before you.”
“Without a doubt!”
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