One final effort and he would make it to the ridge that ran along the top of the mountain. His mind had been so clear that morning, filled with only the thought of scaling the hill. But as he had ascended, the worries of his life had crept in again.
The company was going under. There was no hiding the debt after the last quarters financial results. All the stores would have to close, all the workers would be out of a job. He had to shoulder some of the blame. The faces of his friends and colleagues stared back at him.
There was no escape from the stress at home. Evan was playing up again, the school had been on the ‘phone, the new baby wouldn’t give them a full nights sleep and Kelly wasn’t coping. Of course she blamed him for being distracted and busy with his work. She didn’t understand the pressure he was under.
Last night he had stormed out of the office and, instead of heading home, had just kept driving away from the city and out into the country. Rain had battered down from dark clouds. He felt like his mind was going to crack. He just needed an escape, space and time to breathe.
He had parked in a lay-by and slept in the cold car. When he woke it was a bright sunny day and he saw the familiar hill in front of him. He remembered climbing it with his father when he had been a small kid, ten or eleven. Life had been so simple then, he needed to recapture that innocent joy.
Now he stood at the peak and looked across the valley and the lake below. The thought of descending filled him with dread, returning to his life of worry and strain. Like his mind, the surroundings grew darker and greyer. The clear skies of the morning had clouded over.
On one side of the ridge was a steep, jagged cliff face, a fall of about a hundred feet onto hard rock. He stood thinking about his future. The wind whipped round him. He could escape this way and end it all now.
He swayed forward, his foot sliding to the edge, the drop beckoning him.
He bent his knees to take that final leap. As he did so the sun broke through the clouds again. The dark lifted. He saw Evan and the baby and Kelly.
He took a step back, sat down and looked out over the water.
It was time to go home and tell them how much he loved them.