I’m halfway up the mountain on the magic carpet when it hits me that it’s dark. Really dark, not just getting dark. Which sucks because it means I’m done. That was the last run. No more boarding tonight since all of the good runs close down once it hits full dark.
Normally that’s not a problem—I’ve been out here for seven hours already and my body could use a break, especially since my toes started going numb over an hour ago.
But tonight I’m not ready to go in. Not now, when my skin feels itchy and too tight and my brain is spinning with the need to forget—
I cut the thought off as I exit the ski lift at the top of the mountain and unhook my gear. Instead I concentrate on unbuckling my board and checking the screws at the bottom of it to make sure there’s no damage. I totally barged that last run—which was banging at the time—but I carved the last few rails hard. My board took most of the impact, and I want to make sure it’s still solid.
Turns out it is, and I’m just sliding it into the equipment rack to the right of the lift when Cam steps onto the snow behind me. She’s as excited as I’ve ever seen her. “Dude, that last run was wicked! I’ve never seen you do that inverted triple cork before.”
“That’s ’cuz there are too many gaffers around here to get in the way.” The last thing I need is to get tangled up with a tourist who doesn’t know what he’s doing—that’s how shit turns ugly, fast. But today I couldn’t stop myself from busting out. From the second I woke up this morning there’s been this force building inside me, pressing down on my chest until I feel like I’m drowning. On days like this, taking it out on the powder is the only way I can breathe.
But the run’s shutting down—Cam was the last one up—and the feeling’s back, worse than before. I’m standing here, wind kicking up, fresh air all around me, and still I’m suffocating.
Beside me, Cam dumps her stuff next to mine, then heads for the bench where we normally wait for Lucas and Ash to finish up at the half-pipe. I follow her, but the second I sit down next to her the itchiness gets worse. As does the throbbing at the base of my neck.
Nope, sitting here in the dark, waiting, isn’t going to do it for me tonight. Maybe if I’d brought some weed to mellow me out, but my stash is at home. When I’d left the house this morning, I’d told myself I could handle it. That today was just another day.
What a f***ing joke that is. I feel like I’m going to explode.
I start to stand up again, to pace off the energy that’s slamming at me from the inside, but Cam stops me with a hand on my arm. “I’m serious. That trick was freakin’ amazing. How long have you been working on it?”
“I don’t know.”
“You probably started trying to do it yesterday.” She shakes her head, looks disgusted. “I’ve been trying to do a 900—any kind of 900—for months now, and we both know how well that’s going.”
I bite my tongue to keep from pointing out that she’s a girl—that no matter how strong she is and no matter how much she practices, I’m going to be able to do things she can’t. Not because I’m a better boarder, because I’m not. She’s totally sick on a snowboard. But testosterone is just one of those things. I’m physically stronger than her, so I can catch bigger air, do more complicated tricks.
“I’m serious,” she continues. “One of these days I’m going to figure out how to do that move.”
“Hey.” She punches my shoulder. “Don’t patronize me.”
“Do I look like I’m in the mood to patronize anyone?” Right now, the pressure’s so bad I can barely talk, barely breathe.