Unless of course you start to jettison missile-torches at the rest of the party. This is less efficient.
The corner looms large above us and we ease our way up the fragile slopes to get to the base. Don't bust the crust, bonehead! I can't resist and run the last few steps. The Heart of the Desert.
We rack up and rope up. I huff a couple times and look toward Erin for moral support. She gives it. The sun has started to climb the wall at my side. I decide to climb with it.
The crack in the corner is perfect. It undulates and performs. Narrows and thickens. Grows sandy then firm. Takes blood. I sweat and I breathe. I balance and pull. Thrust and jam. Take rest. I smear and it smiles. I'm at the top.
The sun has left the corner and I don my hat as the cold creeps in. I settle into a comfortable stance and proceed to watch Erin climb with such grace and style as I have not yet seen. I admire her form silently. She moves fluidly up the crack, and I mentally contrast my brusque technique with her feminine strength. She comes to a difficult section and works and hangs for a while. I can see she is getting frustrated. Then a lightbulb. An "aha." She steps back into it, breathing steadily, moving rhythmically. She works through another hard part and is at the top.
We smile and kiss and go down. Walking out my heart is full. Erin makes fun of me for my ginger elf-stepping when I must cross the crust. I tell her it works. We walk down the wash holding hands.
The Heart of the Desert.
I stand naked.
She stands next to me.
My hand is around her waist and hers around mine.
The brisk air blows through us.
It cleanses, replaces our dust.
I kiss her moonlit shoulder.
She shares her radiance in return.
We have warmth though our teeth may chatter.
Sand covers our toes,
A patina, our skin.
We breathe the desert.
It chokes us with beauty.
I smile, she nods.
We walk together.
The Touch of the Desert Goddess