Description: Take the independent, self secure CJ, who has just been transferred from New York to Kansas City College, the young rebel is not known to be the nicest person on earth, and is not happy about being in Kansas then put her in to share a room with Qwin, the shy, emotional artist, who is very insecure and cannot find her path.
The two of them are not best friends and they despise the other, so will a school trip to Kilimanjaro help them along to find compassion and friendship, or will it make a deeper rift between the two?
Disclaimers: They look like Xena and Gabrielle, and may act a bit like them, but it's not them. These two are mine =) No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means without prior written permission from me.
Violence/Subtext / Sex: no violence in this one, there is subtext but no sex, though they do get a bit close to having sex, well, it's nothing graphic. But I guess I should tell you to get going if you have anything about same sex partnership.
Thanks: I have a few people I would like to thank, who all helped me out with a minor writer's block I had. So thank you Michael and Pam and thanks you Kris for supplying me with some information about college life. And Lux, thank you for giving my ego a boost up, so I didn't give up, you're the best. If it wasn't for all of you this story might never have happen, so a big thank you to all of you, you guys are great.
And then I owe a big thank you to Kerrie and Lee, for beta reading this tale, without you this story wouldn't have looked so good.
Note: I have never been in Kansas City , or on Kilimanjaro, all the information about these places is found on the internet, or figured out in my mind. I do know that you normally get invited into sorority or frat housing, but I changed that a bit so it suited my purpose. I have also made the Metropolitan College into a four year college, where it normally is a 2 year. But hey, that's what writer's liberty is all about, right?
This story is the first part of my “on the way” series, also it is the first story I have written and let people read, so I hope you will like it
Feedback: please tell me how you liked the story. Send all feedback to email@example.com
Part 1 – The bitter sweet college life
A nother new place, another new beginning. Ever since childhood, Cassidy had moved around a lot, with her father in the military and a mother in, well never mind her, let's just say she wasn't around a lot. Now at age 20, Cassidy had moved about 13 times, the last 3 years of college had been the first time she had stayed in one place for more than 2 years. Her childhood hadn't been easy for her with all the moving around, and she had always had a hard time of letting people get close to her. What did it matter, she would be moving soon again. She had learned this lesson at the tender age of 10 years old and ever since, Cassidy had been unwilling to make friends.
Once again she was moving due to circumstances inflicted by others, but she needed this new start, needed to get away from her old life, as far away as possible. Things had gone so wrong back in New York after the last fight she had with her father, the one at the party. His anger and scorn had undone her. She had already been on probation at the College in New York but the Dean had listened to her plight and offered her a choice. The Dean had a contact at a college in Kansas and Cassidy could transfer as a senior without losing credits. Cassidy took the offer and choose to move, or as much of a choice it is when it's the only one you have.
She transferred to Metropolitan Community College (MCC) in Kansas City and was now standing before the red brick building, with her long dark brown hair cascading over her shoulders, the wind blowing around her. Her hopes were high for this change. She wanted to change, to get her act together, and to make something out of herself.
She wanted to forget about her old life in New York and just move on.
She remembered the last party she held at her father's house in New York . The alcohol had been flowing smoothly all night as the redheaded girl placed herself in Cassidy's lap. 'Oh, what a fine piece of woman,' Cassidy thought, the blood boiling in her veins. The girl whispered into her ear and a tingle went down Cassidy's back. “Hey hot stuff, y'know you and I should spend some quality time together.” Her finger moved lightly down an unseen path from Cassidy's breastbone to her nipples.
“Oh yeah, ya' think babe?” smirked Cassidy while her hands slowly fondled a fine piece of butt,
There in the middle of the party their tongues had begun a duel and hands were roaming freely over each other's body. It had only been mere minutes before Cassidy had taken the girl right there in front of everyone. Her hand had just moved from under the girl's skirt when he showed up. The music was turned off and everyone had fled from the house at a mad run.
“What the hell do you think you're doing?” sneered the man from across the room.
“Holding a party,” said Cassidy as she nonchalantly shrugged her shoulders. The redhead was still occupying Cassidy's mind and her hands continued to roam.
With measured steps, he walked over to her an angry scowl on his face . He stood there, his tall body and piercing blue eyes looming over her and the red-haired girl.
“Who's that slut?” he barked out between gritted teeth.
“Dad, she's no slut, she's my…” Cassidy defended, hurt evident in her voice.
“NO! SHUT UP. You are no daughter of mine, dyke. ‘Cause a daughter of mine does not have a perverted, twisted mind like you. I want you out of my sight and out of my house. Now!” He turned around and left her sitting there, in total shock With emotions running wild and tears streaming down her cheeks, she did not understand what had just transpired. Could she mean so little to her father that he would just kick her out like that? She was overwhelmed and confused.
She had tried to go over and talk with him the next day, but he just closed the door in her face. Going back down the steps, she had seen all her things ruined and in the trash bin. He really had disowned her. The 20 year old girl decided it did not matter anymore, she did not need him or anyone else for that matter, and that was when Cassidy's life took a turn towards hell.
Cassidy shook her head; it still hurt to think about those memories. Her dad had always been her favorite person in life, and now, now she was on her own.
In a new place yet again, but this time on her own without anyone to help her get settled. Cassidy sighed and a small tear made its path down her cheek to her chin.
Just suck it up and get on with it .
She took a deep breath and just stood there watching the other students mingle and go about their business. Some of them were even watching her, but with her brown leather jacket and black jeans she didn't fit in so much with all these Kansas folks. At least that was how she felt.
Well, let's just get it over with, so I can get away from all of them. With that thought, she started to move towards all the other students, to get her schedule, and make her way towards the bookstore.
It hadn't been Qwin's choice to move into a sorority house and definitely not the one for athletes, but there had had been no more room in the other campus housing.
Qwin was a shy girl, spending most of her time with her art rather than other people. Her parents had decided that she needed to move out of their house and onto campus. They felt she was to quiet, reclusive, and lacked social skills.
It was early morning when Qwin arrived at the sorority. She had found the house easily enough and located her room, which she would share with one other student. She hadn't met her new roommate and was feeling quite nervous about this stranger, but hoped that her new roommate would be on the quiet side.
Qwin began to unpack her belongings, but soon realized that she needed to go register for classes and pick up her books. Now on the way back to the house, she was musing about how great it would be if she and her roommate became friends. Qwin couldn't remember ever having a close friend, not even in kindergarten. She had always been really shy and quiet, so she was never one to play with the other kids. A small smile came to her lips with the thought that maybe she would be able to made a friend now.
With a little more spring in her steps, Qwin moved down the sidewalk towards the house.
She was going to finish up her unpacking and then see if she could get her nerves up and meet some of the other living-in students.
Qwin climbed up the stairs to the second floor and was walking down the hallway, when she heard music playing, loudly. It sounded like it was rock and not anything that Qwin was familiar with.
She stopped before her door and could hear the music pounding from her room. “Well, I guess my roommate is here,” she mumbled under her breath and opened the door.
“What, you haven't heard about knocking?” The snarl from inside the room sounded so feral that Qwin almost peed her pants. Cassidy had just gotten her pants on after changing her clothes, when she had heard the door opening.
“I - I… I thought it…” shuddering the shy girl backed up against the door.
“You thought what, hmm?” She's like a mouse hiding from the ca. , Well, this could be fun. Let's see how long I can press her.' The challenge that ran though Cassidy made something in her light up. She just had to tease the girl, just a little bit.
The towering body of the young woman came forward and stood only a breath away from Qwin.
Qwin was visible shaking now. “Hmm, you gonna answer me or what?”
“I live here.” God that sounded so pathetic , but this one looked like she could break her in half without breaking a drop of sweat.
“You're, ha ha, you're my roommate? God, you must be kidding me.” Cassidy was about to break out in laughter. This was so ridiculous, how could such a tiny scrap of a girl be her new roommate.
“Uhm, yes, I guess so… uhm” Qwin swallowed hard, “I'm… I'm Qwin,” she piped out and held out her hand for a proper introduction. She slowly let her hand drop when it seemed to offend the other woman who just stared at it.
“CJ” Cassidy said as she turned away and walked out of the room. She felt really bad about scaring the girl. She had actually seen tears in her eyes. Never had she meant to get that far with the teasing, and now, she didn't know how to make up for it.
A week had gone by and the two roommates couldn't be more different: where one liked rock music, the other was into classical; where one was rowdy and loud, the other quiet and introspective; where one was a slob and seemed never to pick up her clothes, the other was neat and tidy. CJ was outgoing and never able to sit still and do her homework, Qwin was studious and very much into getting high grades, and that forced her to put a lot of work into her homework. The differences lead them into many arguments in just the short week with no truce in sight.
Qwin remembered clearly what happened on the evening of the fourth day. The tunes of Guns N' Roses song, Don't Cry, rose loudly from the stereo, making Qwin nuts as she was trying to do her homework and the music kept breaking her concentration.
“Can you please turn that down, I can't work with all that noise,” Qwin screamed at CJ. She hadn't meant it to sound as uptight and strident as it sounded though.
“No, go to the library if you want peace and quiet.”
“Hey, this is my room too, you know.”
“So? You don't like the heat in the kitchen, get out of it.” Already pissed off by the pressure from the college and other students, she let it all out on Qwin.
“But I'm trying to study.”
“Yeah, yeah, cry me a river, I'm trying to listen to my music, but it's not like you let me do that.”
Qwin stiffly rose from her chair and stomped over to the stereo intent on turning it off. In the same moment as she reached her hand out, it was gripped by a larger one. CJ held on to her hand so tightly that Qwin was sure there was going to be imprints.
“Don't you ever touch my stuff!” The words were snarled in her ear and with a turn of her body and a push to her back, she landed on her behind on the floor. Slowly Qwin's eyes filled with tears.
CJ walked back over to her bed like nothing had happened. Qwin slowly rose from the floor, tears streaming down her cheeks, and stormed out of the room like the Devil himself was at her heels. In the distance, Qwin could hear a throaty laugh.
After that episode, sparks really began to flying between the two and they couldn't seem to agree on even the smallest of things. They even had a fight about how to knock on the door.
Both had tried to talk with the sorority mother about getting a new roommate, but were put off with the same remark every time, “Give it some time, you'll see, you'll find a way around each other.”
They began avoiding each other like pest and cholera, and only seemed to be in each other's presence in the room at bedtime.
As the standoff continued it began to wear on Qwin's emotional state. She couldn't seem to stop crying. She couldn't seem to find a person to talk about it with. Finally, as she became more miserable, homesick, and bereft of joy, she slowly dialed the familiar number to her parent's home.
“Turner residence,” the proud woman's voice answered.
Qwin's mother, Alexsandra Turner, was a very caring woman, who would do anything for her children, as long as it didn't shatter her reputation with the upper class or her husband Randall's reputation. This often led her to forget her two daughters' needs and emotional feelings, but she was trying to change that and to be there more for her children.
“Mom,” trembled the tear-stained voice of the girl who felt like a five year old and just wanted to climb into her mother's lap and stay there and never letting go.
“Baby, darling, what's wrong?”
“I can't do this anymore, mom. I wanna come home,” Qwin hiccupped as her feelings came crashing down on her.
“But what happened sweetie, what has you so upset, it's only been a one month” the high-pitched voice of her mother sounded on the other end of the line.
“She hates me mom. They all hate me. I have no friends and never will get any friends. I don't fit in and I wanna come back home now. Please mommy, please.”
“Now baby, calm down, nobody hates you…”
“Yes, yes she does. You don't understand, all we do is fight and fight and I can't take anymore.”
“Who is it that hates you sweetheart?”
“My roommate, they all do.”
“Now sweetie, don't you think you're overreacting just a little bit? Why do you think she hates you so much?”
It was so good to hear the caring voice of her mother. Qwin sat swirling the phone cord around her fingers as she poured her heart out to her mother. She never heard the door open or the quiet gasp from the dark hair girl when she heard how Qwin described her.
CJ was out of the door before she could hear anymore. She felt bad for the blonde. She really did, but at the same time she got mad at her, for not trying to talk to her about how she felt, for not telling the person on the other line how irritating Qwin herself was.
No, it wasn't all her fault, and she wouldn't take the blame for it either, not without a fight.
After an hour-long conversation, Qwin had calmed down a bit more. Cried out and emotionally exhausted, she fell asleep.
The ongoing emotional battle continued throughout the next week with Qwin continually being reduced to a puddle of tears and CJ was on a mad dash against everyone.
If someone happened to say 'excuse me' to CJ, she would resort to telling them something like; ‘well, suppose it's not your fault you were born.' No matter what anyone would say to her, she snapped at them, or told them to back off if they tried to do something nice for her.
CJ was just mad at the whole world and could see nothing wrong in telling everyone in it that she hated them.
Monday evening on the fifth week, the sorority mother, Sharon, and the frat-father, Peter, called all the residents of the house for a meeting in the dining area. Sharon and Peter had told the residents that they had some great news to share with them.
The athletes' house consisted of three floors - the first floor there was a main living room, the dining area, kitchen and laundry. The sorority house was on the second floor and the frat house on the third floor. Each floor had their own bathroom area in one end of the hall and a smaller toilet area in the other end of the floor; next to the toilet area was a living room with a TV entertainment center where they could just relax and hang out with their brothers or sisters.
CJ was sitting with Danny, Justin, Carly, and Samuel. Danny was the white boy type who wanted to be the black man, problem was just that he didn't look the part with his fitted black jeans and his hair looked like someone had placed a bowl on his head and clipped around it. He sounded ridiculous when he opened his mouth to try out some new slang he had just heard. He would always seem to get the slang wrong, or said it right when it just didn't fit in anywhere on what they were talking about. But he was a cool guy. At 18, he reminded CJ and the others in their little group of the annoying but adorable little brother, and with his sweet charm there was always a fair number of girls hanging around.
Justin was more like CJ. They seemed to share a connection that even they didn't understand. CJ could say one word and then Justin would know what she meant by it. The connection had come in handy over the past few weeks with CJ's constant mood swings.
A lanky boy with black hair and brown eyes, Justin could easily be mistaken for her brother.
Justin had found love on the campus the year before, the red-haired Carly meant so much to him, and thing where going along smoothly with the two lovers, which made the house parents' job all the more enjoyable when they had to drag an openmouthed Carly out of Justin's and Samuel's room every night. The pair who acted like they still had the joy from new love to experience just didn't understand why they could not sleep in the same room at night. No matter how many times it was explained to them, the pattern never changed.
Samuel, with his hair in an Afro and the caramel brown eyes, you would think he stood out among the group of white friends, and maybe he did, but that was nothing he was taking much time thinking about. These were his friends and so be it. The black man, at 20, seemed to have a childish joy around him whenever something triggered his interest, a joy that could even bring a smile even to the stoic face of CJ.
The 5 of them had easily found each other and spent a lot of their time together.
“We have great news to share with you all.” Peter, the housefather said. He was a large built man, very fit and looked like he could take on an ironman competition if he wanted to. Along with the housemother, Sharon, the married couple took great care of all the students in the house. With no children of their own, the feeling of family was important to them and they treated the residents as if they where their own children.
“As some of you might already know, Peter and I took up mountain climbing some years back and last year we climbed Mount Kilimanjaro . On that trip, as hard as it was, we connected with each other on a level I can't even describe.” Looking around, Sharon saw that she had the attention from all of the students.
“That connection is something we would like to give you, so that is why we started fundraising last year. I am proud to announce that there has been enough money gathered so we can take another trip to Kilimanjaro. We hope this trip will bring you all together, teach you to help each other, care for each other, and make our house a place where we stand together.” Sharon excitedly described the agenda for the trip and what the residents should pack.
“The trek we will take is the most second most popular route, it will take us seven days, and the route is a 30.4 miles trek, so don't be fooled. This is a hard climb, and you will need each other to get to the top.” Peter told them.
After all of 15 minutes, the living area was filled with excited students, clapping and yelling with joy. Only one person was not excited by the news and she sat in a corner away from all the other students, with a frown upon her face. This would be hell for her. She wasn't an athlete. She couldn't climb a mountain. Qwin was definitely not happy.
Part 2 - Kilimanjaro here we come
T he trip down to Tanzania would take them almost 23 hours. They would first have to take a flight to Minneapolis and then fly from Minneapolis to Amsterdam and then onto Kilimanjaro , Tanzania .
They were now on their way to Amsterdam , everything had almost gone by smoothly, and all the students had been asleep for most of the way, since they were traveling at night.
CJ was thinking about the flight from Minneapolis , they had been told to sit side by side with their roommates. That had resulted in Qwin and CJ having an all out fight with each other, and they were now placed on opposite sides of the plane. Both had been reminded by the house parents that they were grownups and should act like it. CJ and Qwin could both see how stupid it was to fight over such a silly thing as Qwin eating an orange.
Well, she did spray me with the juices from it, and she should apologize. Even CJ could hear how childish that sounded, and she actually felt a bit bad about yelling at the young blonde, “Hmm, nothing to do about it now,” was mumbled under a breath, when CJ for the umpteenth time tried to find a way to sit in the airline seat comfortably.
Now Amsterdam was no more than 15 minutes away. When they arrived in Amsterdam they would only have to wait for an hour before the next flight would take off. For CJ that hour would be pure heaven, after having been cramped together for 8 hours, her legs were killing her, and she was more than ready to just wander around for a few minutes. After disembarking the tall brunette walked over to one of the airport shops to look around a bit. CJ missed the first boarding call, and as she boarded all seats were taken but the one beside Qwin.
Qwin had already settled in and looked like she was fast asleep. CJ took a minute to just study her. In the early morning light, she looked like a little angel sitting there, with her hair all over the place, the rose colored lips, and her fair skin all helped to make her face look like an angel with a child's feathers, just about to grow into womanhood.
CJ hadn't seen Qwin that way before, but now as she took time to really look at her, she found that Qwin was quite a beautiful girl..
CJ sat there looking at the younger girl while the flight was getting ready to take off, contemplating why they had so many troubles working things out together.
After a little while she saw a small tear running down Qwin's chin and her features change from one of an angel to a troubled and frightened girl. Qwin was shaking and CJ had no idea what she should do, so she just did the first thing that came to her mind, and ran the back of her hand over the tear stained cheek.
“What's wrong Qwin? Why are you crying?” CJ whispered into her ear as Qwin began sobbing in earnest.
Falling into the arms of the one person she though hated her more than anything, Qwin let it all out and cried. All the while CJ hold her tight, whispering words in her ear and trying her best to comfort her.
Qwin finally calmed down a bit and started to take some deep breaths. “You wanna tell me what all this crying is for, it's – it's not me is it?”
“I-I-I” shaking her head she tried taking deep a breath again before she continued. “I, I really hate flying. What if the plane falls down? What if a fire is started? What if…” she was stopped by two fingers placed against her lips. Raising her eyes to meet sky blue ones, she just sat there silently waiting for what would come next.
“It's not gonna fall down Qwin…”
“No buts about it, it's not gonna fall down, end of discussion,”
They sat like that, CJ holding Qwin, while the plane took off, and until Qwin had fallen asleep.
They arrived at Moshi in late evening, slowly collected their luggage, and made their way to the hotel for the night. They would head out for the 50 minutes drive to Mount Kilimanjaro National Park Gate in the morning and start their climb from there.
It was a group of tired and jet lagged students who went to bed that night, and there was no complaining from any of them about who they were going to share the room with. They just wanted to get a good night's sleep in a real bed.
At the Mount Kilimanjaro National Park Gate, the students and house parents were divided up in 3 groups of 8. Qwin and CJ ended up in the same group along with Justin, Danny, Samuel, Carly, Sharon the housemother, and a light-brown haired girl named Cammi.
After being registered the guide told them about Kilimanjaro.
“Kilimanjaro is among the tallest freestanding mountains in the world, rising 15,100 feet from the base. It is a giant stratovolcano that was formed a million year ago, when lava was spilled from the Rift Vally zone.”
“What does Kilimanjaro mean? Qwin asked.
Rolling his eyes Danny replyed “Argh. Come on man, that's an easy one, Kil a man, Jaro”
“Yeah what's Jaro then, Danny-boy,” Carly chipped in.
“The name of the mountain of cause.” Danny said as if stating that the world was round.
“No not exactly, though the meaning of Kilimanjaro is unknown, most seem to think the it is a combination of the Swahili word Kilima, that means mountain and the Kichagga word Njaro which is loosely translated to whiteness, White Mountain . Another Swahili translation of Kilimanjaro is Shining Mountain .”
Looking around at all the climbers, another guide started to tell them about the route they would be taking.
“We will start our route at Machame Gate with an elevation of 5718 feet From there we will make our way to Machame camp at 9927 feet, where we will camp out before going to Shira Camp on the second day. Shira Camp is at 12355 feet.
On the third day we will reach Barranco Camp at 13066 feet. This is also called Garden of the Senecias, because it features many of the huge senecio plants. The fourth day will take us to Karanga camp, where we will rest before going to Barafu camp on the fifth day. Barfu lays 15239 feet's above the base.
In the early morning of day six we will make our way to Freedoms Peak or also called Uhuru Peak . There you will see a sign that reads; Congratulations! You are now at Uhuru Peak , Tanzania , 5,895 m. AMSL, Africa 's highest point, World's highest freestanding mountain. And that will mean that we have reached our destination.”
The trail was muddy and slippery as they made their way through the rain forest on and up the ridge. After having walked about one and a half hour a yelp was heard. Danny had slipped on the muddy track, much to the joy of the others in the group The group teased him and all claimed he screamed like a little girl.
“He he, you okay Danny-boy, or should I say Danny-ella?” CJ was laughing so hard it almost hurt.
“Aw, shut up and help me up will ya, dumbass?” Danny was laughing good naturally along with the others, while he was rubbing his hurt behind. CJ offered him a hand and they continued on the beautiful route through the rain forest towards Machame Camp.
They had been for walking three house when they took a break for lunch. The break was more than welcome as many of the group were mumbling about sore thighs and feet as they ate and took a rest.
Lunch was held at a place Qwin awestruck at the view overlooking a stream, with clearer water than Qwin had ever seen. She stood there taking in everything and just marveling over how serene the forest was, when she felt a presence come up behind her.
“Hi.” the low rumble of CJ's voice was heard.
Aww, that a sweet smile. Maybe, just maybe we could start over again. I would like that, I think. CJ thought to herself. “It's beautiful here, isn't it?”
“Yeah it is, I've never seen anything like it.”
“No, me neither.”
For the first time in seven weeks the two roommates had a small conversation without screaming at each other. Problem was that without the screaming, neither of them knew what to say, so they just stood there smiling at each other.
The rest of the tracks lead them alongside the stream. Everyone helped each other to keep moving as they climbed higher up the mountain. The lunch break had helped but the group was exhausted as they made their way to Machame Camp for the first night/ As they moved into camp they could see the tents already up and the smell of dinner cooking. They were greeted by the other groups of students that had gotten their before them.
The dinner wasn't exactly a four star meal but it was hot and edible. All the students were starving from the exercise of the day, so they munched happily on their food, talking among each other about the trip, and the sights beheld during the day.
Much to the horror of Carly and Cammi, it was decided that they would have to share a four-person tent with Qwin and CJ. Carly was quick to let her discomfort be heard, and came up with a solution so CJ and Qwin wouldn't get too close to each other and get into a shouting match.
Carly announced that she, along with Cammi, would be sleeping in-between CJ and Qwin, and if either of them had as much as one complaint about the other, she threatened to kick their wrinkled butts off the mountain. That comment brought a blush to Qwin's face, which in turn had gotten a laugh from all the others.
Surprisingly enough, it all worked out well, and all four girls got a good night's rest.
In the morning after breakfast they were gathered together by the guides. When peace had settled over the group one of the guides began to talk.
“The climb to Uhuru Peak is considerd to be relative straight forward, however ample time must be provided for proper acclimatization to prevent altitude sickness”
“What's the signs of altitude sickness?” a student asked.
“All climbers will suffer consideable discomfort typically shortage of breath, hypotemia and headaches. It is when this get to much that you must react, don't push your body more then it can take just to look good in front of your friends. Each year 10 people die from this, and maybe 20 or 30 more if you count those who are not registered.
Therefore, you need to look out for each other and be aware if your classmates show increased signs of altitude sickness.
This can happen to all of us, as there is no specific factors that indicate increased susceptibility to altitude sickness. However, most people can climb up to 8000 feet normally.”
After the group had gotten their lunches and water, they set out again up the trail towards Shira Cam. They had to walk at a slower pace as they began to acclimatize to the altitude.
The heat was almost too much, and without shades it was almost unbearable for some of the students, but all kept a high spirit, all but Cammi, that is.
“Oh god, I'm gonna die.” Cammi complained over and over again, until Samuel and Justin had had enough of her complaining and poured a bottle of ice cold water over her.
“Arghh, what you did that for?” Cammi was furious at first over the childish behavior of the boys and was walking away like a mad woman, cursing the boys over and over again.
“They probably just felt like you could use some cooling off, ease up a bit, will ya? You're already starting to dry off,” CJ shrugged nonchalantly and moved on with a small grin on her lips.
Laughing together, all of the students were beginning to feel a camaraderie building. They were starting to care for the others in the house, not just their friends, but also the rest of the residents. Helping each other up narrow paths and keeping the spirits high when someone was falling down began to change something in all of them.
The final climb up the trail before lunch was steep. Concrete steps were built into the mountain to assist in the climb, but all made it though without too many problems, and they shared a nice lunch break for 30 minutes with lots of joking around.
After lunch they all thought that the rest of the trail to Shira Camp would be easy to hike, but all of them were fooled when the last two hours of the trail was rocky and steep. On this section of the trail, Danny only landing on his ass once. It was late afternoon as they finally arrived at Shira Camp.
Qwin was sitting by herself eating her dinner when CJ came over and sat down beside her.
“Hi, you okay there?”
“Yeah I'm fine, just needed to be alone for awhile, you know, to, uh, think.”
“Ah, okay, you want me to leave? Cause if you do just say so and I will.” A bit nervous, CJ quickly tried to find a way out of talking to Qwin.
“No, no, that's okay, just stay, it's nice with some company at times.”
“Yeah. You know Qwin, I wanted to talk with you.”
“Well, I kinda thought we could start over, you know. We are gonna have to share a room together for a year, so it would be nice if we could at least be in the same state without breaking out in war.”
“Yeah, really? You really want that?” Qwin was smiling so much she was afraid her face would break in half. She might just get a friend after all.
“Yeah, I would like that.” As the conversation tapered off they sat looking out over the mountain and enjoying the beauty of both the mountain and their newly forming friendship.
“Okay people, we made it for today, I want you all to get a good night's rest, and it's the same sleeping arrangement tonight as it was yesterday.” Sharon announced.
“Yes ma'am” was heard from all of the students.
The evening of the fourth day found Qwin rubbing her sore feet. After hiking, climbing and walking for four day's straight the blonde girl was starting to fear that her feet would fall of at anytime. Looking at her new friend, CJ couldn't help but feel sorry for the poor girl.
“You want help with that?” the low rumble of CJ's voice was heard over the quiet night, followed by long fingers touching her feet, picking them up, and settling them on rock hard thighs.
“Please, if you don't mind.. ahh yes just there, mmmm.. God, this is so good.”
“Ha, ha… I don't mind at all.” As long as I'm able to touch you I'm happy.
“Ahhh, yes right there, just, uhmmm, yes, this is so good.” Qwin was practically moaning now.
CJ was starting to sweat, If she keeps that up I'm gonna come, and that's just from massaging her feet. I wonder what would happened if I was massaging her elsewhere. Hmmm, like those shoulders, running my hands down her arms, and down over her front to those perfect breasts...Oh God, better stop this. I need a cold shower.
“All…” CJ had to clear her throat before speaking again. “All done, do you feel better now?”
“Yes thank you. That was perfect. Do you want me to do you?”
With her mouth hanging agape, CJ said, “No. I'm good.” As she exited the tent looking for away to cool herself down a bit. That last comment had did her in. There was just too much underlying subtext in that sentence.
Qwin shook her head and when she couldn't figure out what was wrong with her new friend, she lay down to get some sleep.
The next day dawned clear and peaceful with mist gathered in the lower valleys. The group of eight slowly made their way up the trail, ever climbing. The Decken Glacier gleamed off to the left.
CJ and Qwin were walking side by side through the morning, talking and joking along the way, and enjoying each other's company.
The trail came to a fork, and the group followed the way to the left. It was a very steep route that lead to a rocky section of trail. It started out well for all of them as they slowly made their way over the rocks, but it was a very hard climb and they were all tired. The camp was only about 20 minutes away, so they all knew the sooner they got up those rocks the sooner they would be able to lie down.
Some of the rock was so steep that they had to climb up in single file. The boys started out first followed by Carly, CJ, Cammi and then Sharon . Qwin had left the climb for a short time to take of care nature's call, and was the last one in the line.
The rocks were slippery and some of the smaller ones were a little loose. On reaching for a good grip on a higher cliff, Qwin felt the earth moving beneath her.
A scream rang out, and while Qwin tried to figure out who was screaming, she lost her footing and her grip on the rock above her. She fell off the narrow rock, and hit the ground. All turned black around her.
The scream sounded so high that all of the other students turned around in shock to see what had happened.
Looking down over the edge of the rocks, all they could see was the still form of Qwin. She was out cold and they all feared the worst. Upon seeing whom it was that was laying lifelessly on the rock, CJ started running with long swift steps down the mountain, not caring how dangerous that was for her.
“Qwin, Qwin, come on Qwin, answer me”
But no answer came. When CJ was finally down beside Qwin, she did a quick check on her, as best as she could, to see how badly she was injured.
“She doesn't seem to be too badly hurt, and she has only fainted,” she yelled up to the others who were on their way down.
CJ was relieved that her new friend was not injured. As she sat there cradling Qwin, she felt a shaky hand touch her own. “Wh-what happened?” Qwin was frightened and shaken up.
“You tell me, sweetie, we all heard you scream, and then you were just lying here.”
CJ was now holding Qwin's hand close to her heart, running her thumb over the backs of her knuckles, to calm the frightened girl and to calm her own fears.
“How are you feeling Qwin?” Sharon and the guide had finally reached them, and now they had to decide if Qwin should continue up the mountain, or if she had to be taken down to the lower camp.
“No, no, I don't wanna go back to the lower camp. I want to get up there. I'm fine, really.” Qwin was starting to sob.; She really did want to get to the top, now that she had gotten so far.
After Sharon and the guide had checked the blonde out for concussion, sprain, and possible broken bones, they decided it was safe to let her at least climb to the next camp.
So with the help of CJ and Sharon, Qwin got up the rocks and into Barafu camp. The doctor examined Qwin and pronounced, “She will be fine after a little rest and should be able to continue the climb to the Uhuru peak.
The guides came and woke them up around midnight. They had to eat and start climbing in the dark to reach Uhuru Peak in time to watch the sunrise. With all of them wearing a headlamp, they went carefully over the rocky steps.
After an hour of walking they reached a snow-covered area where they could see glaciers above them. The night was moon lit and they were able to see without using their headlamps just taking in the wonderful glow of moon on snow and ice experience.
“Wow, this is so beautiful” Qwin stated in a low voice, so as not to disturb the peacefulness..
“Yes. It is kind of surreal, don't you think?” CJ answered, placing a hand on Qwin's back, to feel closer to her.
“How can something that takes so much energy and fight be so siren. It's like… I can't describe it” Qwin had a look full of wonder when she looked into CJ's eyes. The look made CJ's heart beat at a double pace.
Two hours later as the track continued to steepen o and the effects of the altitude continued to effect them more, both mentally and physically. The group of eight were approaching _______ft and the rest periods were needed every 15 to 20 minutes.
Carly started to cry and suddenly sat down, “I can't go on, it hurts too much, I can't do it anymore.”
Her hands were painfully cold, and she had a headache like never before.
Justin got the guide over and as he examined Carly.
“Remember what I told you about altitude sickness?”
“Yes, I need to get down now don't I?” Carly asked with a defeated voice She had really wanted to reach the top.
Justin volunteered to go down with her, and along with another guide the two walked down the mountain.
The rest kept walking on, they moved liked machines - just putting one leg in front of the other.
Finally, after a long time they reached Stella Point. The lava field was like loose sand, and with every step they took, they slid back down again.
For Cammi this was too much. It was too frustrating and she was exhausted and gave up. Sharon, who was also feeling the altitude, turned and followed in Cammi's footsteps.
“Well, let's do this shall we?” the black man said and was answered by a chorus of “Yes!”
Joining hands, Samuel, Danny, Qwin, and CJ took strength in each other, and slowly continued to climb up the mountain..
They kept walking and sliding for a long time, and finally, as the sun lightened the horizon, the small group of four were standing on top of Kilimanjaro, seeing the sunrise with wonder and excitement over what they had just accomplished.
The joy was evident in all four pair of eyes. Qwin walked over to CJ to share the beautiful view with her. It was with the same wonder that CJ took Qwin into her arms and held her tight. CJ was looking into her eyes, a look of wonderment and something more showed in the beautiful blue eyes.
Taking a chance, CJ learned down and placed the light feather of a kiss upon the rose colored lips and as she lifted up Qwin put her had to the back of CJ's neck and pulled her in for a second kiss.
Drawing back a bit, CJ thought how wonderful that had been. This could be the start of something good in her life, and she was going to enjoy getting to know Qwin.
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