Amelia stopped, panting. The mountain loomed ahead, dropped away behind. Cedars had long since been replaced by scrubby wind-twisted spruce.
She trusted Jen and Danny but this was huge. So huge.
Amelia didn’t know if she could leave her parents, her clone-sisters behind to live on this mountain when the sea flooded around them.
More importantly, she didn’t know if her parents would let her go.
Weight of Change
By Meyari McFarland
Amelia stopped, panting. Her legs felt like they weighed a thousand pounds, each. Sweat dripped down her ribs, pooled between her breasts, soaked her shirt and crept down her spine to shiver at the base of her back. When she licked her lips the salt on her lips made her shudder.
Stupid hike. It had been pretty walking through towering cedar trees and fluttery ash. At first, anyway. Now Amelia desperately wished she’d stayed home instead of agreeing to this ‘adventure’. They weren’t even to the top of the ridge yet and Danny had said that the trail went on another half mile from there before you got to the lake.
The cedars had disappeared a while ago, replaced first by scrubby little spruce that stood no taller than Amelia. Instead of majestic trunks too big for her, Jen and Danny to encircle, even fingertip to fingertip, Amelia was surrounded by spruce trees with wind-twisted trunks and needles that stabbed her arms and legs every time she brushed up against the things. And given that the trail hadn’t been maintained in ages the spruce had nearly taken it over.
Stupid trees. Stupid trail with its rutted path overgrown by weeds, thistles, grass. Stupid rocks hidden under the grass that tried to twist Amelia’s ankle as she walked, that made her stumble and curse and look ahead at Jen and Danny, both walking so confidently when Amelia had never been that confident in her entire damned life.
Amelia looked and yes, of course, Jen and Danny had stopped to wait for her, again. Neither of them looked annoyed. Danny bounced on their toes, beaming at the world around them as if they couldn’t be happier to have a shirt soaked in sweat and scratch marks all over their arms. The side of Danny’s head where they’d done an undercut shimmered with sweat. At least Amelia wasn’t the only one dying in the heat of the afternoon.
Jen didn’t look like she was sweating at all. She hadn’t even taken her jacket off but then Jen was always cold. She smiled so serenely at Amelia that the irritation faded away. Amelia sighed, stood straighter and then stumbled up the path to join them.
“This is longer than three miles,” Amelia panted once at their sides.
“Nope, just three miles,” Danny said. They laughed and kissed Amelia’s cheek as if she wasn’t slicked with sweat. “We’re nearly there, only about half a mile to go.”
“I am going to die,” Amelia announced. “Right here. On the spot. Keel over and flop, done with.”
Danny laughed. “No, you’re not. When we get up to the top of the ridge you’ll see. It’s all worth it.”
They set off, humming and swinging their arms as if the hill didn’t get steeper and the path wasn’t just as rutted. Jen shrugged and offered a hand to Amelia. Her palm was cool and dry. It made Amelia wince that she was getting Jen all sweaty but Jen didn’t seem to mind. She tugged gently at Amelia’s hand and that was that.
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