I didn’t pay Zhong Yuan any more heed as I continued to write out the contents of my will. The more I thought about it, the more things I realized I had to say. I wrote very quickly in that dim light.
Zhong Yuan mocked from beside me, “You’re not planning on writing an autobiography, are you?”
I didn’t even raise my head as I replied grumpily, “None of your business!”
Zhong Yuan lazily said, “The thunder stopped. Are you sure you want to keep writing?”
I put down my pen and opened my ears to listen. Huh, it really stopped? It was quiet outside the tent, with just the light rustle of raindrops sounding. The Duke of Thunder and Mother of Lightning were done fighting?
I closed my notebook and let out a long sigh. “That’s good. My life is still safe.”
And then Zhong Yuan said, “I forgot to tell you. The place we set up camp keeps away wind, rain, and flooding. And our tents keep us from getting struck by lightning.”
I just looked at him without a word. In other words, I was overreacting earlier? There was no point in my writing a will?
I restrained my anger and asked, “Why didn’t you tell me that sooner?”
Zhong Yuan answered with a smile. “I thought you were putting on an act to entertain yourself.”
I didn’t know what to say.
The next day, the sky had already cleared up. The air was fresh but everything was a bit damp still. We had a simple breakfast and prepared to climb the main peak.
Hiking truly was an activity that required strength. I won’t tell you how tiring the climb was, as I’m sure anyone who’s ever hiked a mountain will know. As for those who haven’t, well, surely you’ve all climbed stairs before? The mountain was 1,700 meters above sea level. If the base of the mountain was flat, a conservative estimate would put us as having climbed 600 meters from midway up the mountain. How much is 600 meters? If one story of a building is three meters, then 600 meters would be a 200 story building. That’s right, we climbed a 200 story building, from the ground floor to floor 201, without the use of an elevator… Moreover, that’s a conservative estimate.
But there was a sense of accomplishment that came with climbing a mountain. When we made it to the top, dripping with sweat, our hearts swelled with grandeur as we gazed out at all the scenery below us. In that moment, all of that sweat felt worth it. What was life’s purpose? If you asked me that question then and there, I would have answered that the purpose of life was to conquer.
Still, no matter how heroic that moment seemed, we were like weaklings as we descended. Climbing up was easy. Getting down was hard. I truly came to understand that. We didn’t descend on the same path that we used to climb up. Instead, we chose a more challenging trail. There may as well have not been any steps built in. In some places, they were a meter high. Fortunately, I used to climb trees back at home. I spent all day climbing up and jumping down, so jumping down wasn’t so hard for me there. Some of the less athletic girls, on the other hand, had a tough time; sometimes they needed the boys to guide them down. There were some areas that didn’t have an official path, but rather the amount of traffic sort of created a path. It was bad enough that the path was rather steep, but some places were a bit sandy and slippery. I nearly lost balance a few times, but thankfully, Zhong Yuan grabbed hold of me from behind. Although he’d greatly annoyed me the previous night, since he was being so helpful, I couldn’t really stay angry at him.
After walking a while, we came to a rather dangerous part of the mountain trail. Not only were there no steps, the trail was also steep, slippery, and narrow. If two people met on the trail, one of them would really have to hug the side of the mountain for the other to pass by before continuing.
We traveled single-file down the mountain, moving carefully and slowly. One wrong step and we could be tumbling down the mountain. I was walking when I hit a very slippery patch. The rock under my foot loosened and I staggered, one leg going into the air. In a panic, I waved my arms around to balance myself out. The trail was really too slippery though, and I was about to slip off the trail…
Zhong Yuan had sharp reflexes, so he grabbed my arm and pulled me back up.
But I quickly grew dejected. Because while I was flailing around, I accidentally flung the camera from my hand. I was safe and sound, but it had fallen down…
I stared in the direction where the camera disappeared and couldn’t help crying out, “C-camera…”