I could barely see anything in front of me, except for the hazy signs in blue. The wind was very strong, and the snowstorm lashes at my naked face violently. I’m starting to regret being up here, when I suddenly heard him calling out to my friend, “June, lai.” I’m no Chinese, but I think that he’s encouraging her to go further than the orange fence. I turned to look at them, and I saw more people were gearing up to brave the harsh weather. I know that if we don’t follow suit, we won’t make it to the base in time…
I jumped up from my sleep when I heard my alarm goes off from behind the door. I left it outside to charge when I went to bed last night since we’ll be leaving for a day trip today. Half a battery won’t last until the evening, and I don’t want to risk a chance of not being able to contact anyone if anything might happen during the trip. One by one, everyone else woke up, and we got ready in record time. Probably the shortest time we’ve ever taken to get ready since we’ve started with this vacation together. Truth to be told, I was pretty nervous about this whole trip after the whole accident involving me banging my face on a wall while biking downhill. If I don’t know any better, I’d say that I’ve adopted a phobia of cruising at full speed downhill.
We’ve changed trains, and buses for a total of six times in the last four hours, but the end was worth it. The scenery at the ski resort just took my breath away. That was my first time seeing so much snow at one place, live. I’ve became as excited as I was nervous when we start walking to hire our ski equipment. We’ve wrestled for an hour inside the shop, and finally came out fully armored. When Chester asked us if we wanted to hire a ski instructor, we were undecided. 32 euros sounds like a lot of money for a ski instructor. Well, I hate to be undecided when it comes to matters regarding money. Luckily, he offered to coach us for a little bit before we actually make up our minds. Thank GOD for him being so nice to us.
From where I was standing, skiing looks easy enough. Heck. A toddler can even do it amazingly! Confusingly, when Chester told us what to do, I couldn’t quite get what he meant by putting a 100 percent of our weight on one leg only, or, by trusting the hard part of our ski shoes, or by trusting ourselves. I’ve never trusted anyone or anything more than I do myself, but I just couldn’t find it in me today. Plus, what’s the hard part of my ski shoes? I thought that every part of my shoes was hard, that they were hurting me so much! Though, I wouldn’t tell him that, would I? He can be pretty vicious, and he looked as if he can skin us alive at this moment.
We’ve practiced more after our lunch, and skiing proves to be too extreme for Kelly. I wouldn’t blame her for that since I knew that sports are not her cup of tea. However, I must say that I was surprised at Chester’s willingness at letting her watch by the side, giving up entirely on learning how to ski. I’ve learned later on that he’d actually let her fell on her back all the way to the bottom of the slope to make sure that she’d experienced the true way of skiing before finally seeing how fragile Kelly can be. I’m pretty sure that he would have at least felt a little guilty about treating our baby sister like that, enough to stop pushing her to ski.
Now that he had less one student to think about, he’s becoming less stressed, more excited, and enthusiastic. That’s one part of it, and the other half could probably because we were showing much improvement compared to earlier. We could easily crab-walk to a higher ground now, but that doesn’t mean that it was not tiring. I might have probably lost at least a couple of pounds there and then. Ah… You must be wondering what a crab-walk is. Actually, it’s a form of walking sideways against the slope with our skis on to keep our balance. It looks a lot like a crab walking at the beach, hence the name.
The snow showers had started then, and when I thought that we finally had enough for the day, and ready to go back, Chester suddenly proposed a pretty unbelievable idea. I might even call it crazy if I didn’t saw the determination in his face. I looked at Jen, June, then Diana, all blinking hard while profusely shaking their heads. “No Chester. We are still too scared to go up there. Plus, the weather doesn’t look so good.” I’ve tried to reason with him. June picked up her ski poles, and made a cross sign, showing that she’s in agreement with me. “You wouldn’t have this chance anymore. Would you miss it now?” He was just too determined. I don’t remember how long did it take for him to convince us for this crazy idea of going to the top of the hill and ski down, but he did.
“Ah…but, it looks like the ski lift is closing now, so I’m not really sure if we can still make it up there,” he mumbled while skiing away. June and I looked at each other, simultaneously let out a breath of relief, and laughed. I have never expected that I would be very relieved to hear that from him. However, the joy was short-lived when he excitedly signaled us to approach him at the counter shortly after. We skied slowly, trying to drag as much time as possible, and I just knew that this is not going to be a good start. I looked up the snowy hill and thought; what mess have I gotten myself into this time?
“Wait! I’m trying to cover my face with my scarf here.” The snow shower that was once innocent turned into a hellish storm. Chester was giving out instructions to both June and I up here. The feeling was very foreign as to compared with our earlier lessons, where I can feel the pressure choking me, and the fear engulfing me. The fact that I do not have any idea of what might be waiting for us in the fog had me chilled to the bone. I was starting to regret my decision, when I’ve suddenly remembered Chester telling us to trust him while we were still sitting inside the cable car. So, I trust him with my life now, and I believe that he’ll lead us back to the base in one piece.
One followed by another, the other skiers went down in full speed. I skied once, twice, stopped, and looked back. June was still having trouble balancing on the steep hill. I skied more, stopped, and looked back. Not much improvement, except for now she’s falling towards the orange fences at the side. I wish I could help with anything, but if Chester couldn’t do anything except to talk her through, then I don’t think I can do any better. The pattern repeats for a few time, until in the end, there were only the three of us now. I stared blankly across the horizon, and realized in panic that it was getting really dark. It’s almost similar to the one they've shown in dramas, except that nobody was watching us being stranded up here.
The ski lifts slowed down to a halt, and Chester skied towards me. “I’m very worried that we wouldn’t make it in time now. Now I really regret bringing you two up here. Yvonne will really scold me for keeping all of you away for so long. I’m really sorry.” My heart thumped louder, as his words hit a spot. I can feel my blood being drained off my face. What was that feeling? He can’t be panicking now. We were relying on him to keep us safe, so he needs to pretend that he was okay even if he was not. I was seriously really worried by that time, and the fact that I could still see nothing at the bottom of the slope did nothing to ease the turmoil in my emotion.
Would we really be stranded at this resort tonight? How much do we have to spend then? Where would we sleep? What about our trip to Zurich tomorrow? Will our plans be cancelled then? So many questions flooded into my brain, but funny, I’ve never thought of the possibility that I could meet an accident and die there. Maybe it was all because of the fact that I’ve led them through a prayer earlier. An amusing prayer, according to them, since it sounded more like a conversation with God at the train station compared to a very spiritual chanting, or anything of that sorts.
Seeing that it’ll be too slow to take the beginner route, Chester proposed for us to take the intermediate route. Obviously, for it to be faster, the hill has to be steeper, and it was. God, I was very scared. I was a beginner for God sake! I have never touched a ski ever before in my life, and I’ve only just learned a few hours ago how to ski down a slope with loads of tumbling, falling, and banging. I can’t believe the whole idea of actually doing this, but we’ve got no other choice. I was skiing alright, but when I felt that I was too fast for my good, I turned right to brake, and ended up skiing right to the edge of the route, to the dangerous part.
I stumbled, and turned a full 360 degree turn, laid on the ice for a while, dragged my sorry butt, and got up to ski again. I’ve made a few zigzags, and at one turn, I’ve actually dropped a ski. I wonder if the fall was too hard, and the pressure was making the ski binding to lose its’ lock on my shoes. Chester skied towards me to help, but putting on the ski on that very steep hill proves to be harder than it seems. Since June had adopted a new skiing skill, she zoomed past us at an amazing speed, and I can only gaped in awe at her. For a second she was just next to us, and afterwards, she was suddenly at the bottom of the slope.
I on the other hand was still having problem with my skis. Once when they were finally on again, I’ve tried using June’s skill, but ended up lying down on the snow more often than not. All the adrenaline rush was wearing off, and I can feel myself giving up when a snowmobile suddenly turned up out of nowhere. Thankfully, Chester can easily converse in German with the guys on the mobile to give me a lift. I would be happy to just sit inside the basket at the back of the mobile, but the driver asked his passenger to walk down instead. He helped me out of my skis, and lifts me up onto his passenger seat. I never felt more pampered that whole day.
We’ve zoomed past Chester and June towards the base, and I can’t thank him enough for being my prince charming on a white horse. When I jumped off the mobile, I saw Jen with a grave look on her face, rushing towards me. I motioned her towards June who was skiing slowly towards us, and she quickly ran to take her in her arms. Then, Kelly came out from the base with red nose, and eyes. I knew straight away that she had been really worried to the extent of crying. I went and hug her, hoping that I could at least ease her fear. “We are back. We are fine now.”
Inside, we took off our hats, scarves, shoes, socks, gloves, and coats, and I must say that they’ve almost turned into ice. We can hardly tell the difference. Chester came through the door, hugging the two of us straight away. All the time, he kept on saying sorry. I could be angrier for putting our lives in danger, but I’m not. I know that he will keep us safe, and he did. He’s a man that we can trust. When everything was settled at the base, we ran quickly to the bus stop to catch a bus to the train station with our fingers crossed. It was pretty late by then, and we were not sure if we’d make it in time. Luckily, God was with us all the time.
On our journey back home, I was glad that we didn’t have to change as much trains as we did in the morning because I was thoroughly beat. Judging from the way we’ve stumbled and fell, June and I could have easily broken a leg or two, or even our neck, but we didn’t. Though it felt like a near-death experience, it was a very valuable one. Having survived that, I felt as though we are now invincible. I would want to go out skiing again, but next time, I’ll be more prepared.