I’m glad Bobbi and I talked. And I’m happy we finally confessed our feelings to the other. I love her and I can finally tell her that. And the best part: she loves me back. After we left the café I drove her home and we decided to go out for a picnic, just like we did for our first date. I’m currently sitting in my truck waiting for her to come out. The grin on my face hasn’t faded since we were in the café. I look toward her front door and there she is coming out, a backpack on her left shoulder and a huge smile on her face. She opens the door to the backseat and throws the backpack inside and then takes her place in the front sitting next to me. Before she buckles up she kisses me forcefully and with passion and I feel myself melt under her touch.
“Let’s go,” she commands.
“Let’s go,” I imitate her. We drive for a while until we reach a special place where dad and I used to go fishing. I always loved it here. It’s quiet and peaceful. I lay down the blanket and Bobbi brings both the picnic basket and her backpack. She sits down next to me and smiles.
“I brought you something,” she says. She rummages through her backpack and pulls out a big book. She hands it to me and I open it. I now realize it’s a photo album.
“What’s this?” I ask amused.
“My life,” she says serious, but a smile grazes her delicate face.
“Literally?” I ask and she nods.
“There are pictures in there from every expedition I went on. From small family hiking trips to the Himalayas.” I look at the first picture and see Mr. Moore and a little girl on his shoulders. Bobbi. They are smiling and Bobbi looks happier than I’ve ever seen her.
One by one, Bobbi tells me the story behind every picture, from happy to sad to exciting and frightening, she tells me everything. She tells me how it felt like to climb all these mountains, what she feared, what she hoped. She told me that when her oxygen tank runs low she keeps herself focused and awake by singing. When I asked her how she is doing that she said she wasn’t actually singing, but doing it in her head. Her “I’m out of oxygen song” is “Take my breath away”. I laughed, but she assured me this song, silly as it may seem, saved her a few times. She goes on and tells me about the times when she thought she would die and the times she wanted to give up. Scott or someone else motivated her and she continued. She tells me about the times when she was the one trying to motivate someone and that someone wouldn’t try to get up. Leaving that person behind hurt her more than she admitted at first and she confesses to having nightmares because of it. And then she gets to May 10th. Everest.
“I was among the first to reach the summit. It was one p.m. when I got there and I was so happy I made it. I radio called base camp and asked Amanda, one of my friends who stayed behind to coordinate things from down there, to call my parents. It was my mom's birthday and I wanted to say hi. By the time Amanda was able to establish a connection to my folks several others reached the top, including Scott and two other of my friends, who didn't make it. When I told my parents where I was they freaked out and I already knew I was in trouble. I mean deep trouble,” she says with a chuckle, but she averts her gaze. I know she wants to tell me something bad. I know that she lost friends there, but it seems to me there's something else.
“What are you not telling me?” I ask her tentatively, cupping her face in my palm and turning her head so that she faces me. Tears have gathered in her eyes and threaten to spill.
“There are certain rules we must obey, otherwise our lives are in danger,” she continues vaguely. I let her take deep breaths to calm herself down. This must be harder than I thought.
“You don't have to tell me if you aren't ready,” I reassure her.
“I want to tell you.” She closes her eyes and takes another deep breath. “When climbing 8000-ers like Everest you have to make sure you stay on schedule. This applies to every climb, but more so over there. When climbing Everest you need to make sure that you reach the summit before two p.m. That’s your maximum point. If you don’t start your descent by two p.m. you might not make it to the first camp and implicitly to safety. Around 1:40 p.m. most of us left the summit, but Eli was still heading up with one of his clients who refused to turn around. I tried to convince them to return, but the client wouldn’t listen. I even told Eli to leave him,” she says and I look at her with wide eyes. She looks down, ashamed.
I don’t know what to say to her or if I should say anything at all. Is this what was bothering her? Does she feel guilty for saying those things? I stare at her trying to not look too appalled by what she just said. I can’t really understand what was going on in her head when she said those things, to a friend of her nonetheless. To suggest to leave someone behind, it’s just not something I see her doing.
“I know it sounds awful, but I had to,” she resumes her story. “What they were doing was utter suicide. And I was right. Eli refused to leave his client there alone and I reluctantly left. I told him goodbye and I think we both knew it was for good. I still hoped otherwise, though,” she says looking at me again and I see tears rolling down her cheeks. I wipe them away with my thumbs and she gives me a cracked smile. “I continued walking but I felt tired and sleepy. I checked my oxygen tank and it was running low. I could get a new tank when I reached the camp, but I was still so far away. I focused on breathing and started repeating Take My Breath Away,” she says with a chuckle.