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  • Gaia Donati

The Climb | By Gaia Donati

I wouldn’t put my finger there if I were you. There, that’s a better grip. I can see you are not ready to face death. La muerte, entiende? That grin you put up on your sweaty face to mask your fear doesn’t fool me. You are scared, aren’t you?

Thrill-seeking, record-breaking – you and your lot push yourselves to the limit until you forget you are human. Your hands grabbed me without grace and tickled me with hope. You slapped me, scratched me in despair. Your feet kicked me, walked and stomped on me. Did I like it when you drilled holes and hammered in bolts? No, I didn’t. I put up with ropes, chalk and the rest of your kit. Truth is, I stand taller than your gadgets and tricks – and you know it. I wasn’t born quietly: I have stood through rougher times on this planet.

Do I look impossible to crack? Oh, I wish. I wish I were as unmovable as I appear to you. I see that you are trained and fit; I can feel that you’re getting tired too. I hope you know what you’re doing. Whenever one of you loses contact with me, something deep within me shakes as if I were about to crumble into a thousand pieces. The ropes catch some of you, yes. But the ones who fall prey to gravity, those haunt me through the years. A hand that slips, a foot that slides – I cannot do anything to prevent what follows. I stand tall and yet I am powerless.

You climbers have no right to trouble me like that. At my age, I should be treated more kindly. Respect me. Respect El Capitán.


El Capitan, also known as El Cap, is a vertical granite formation in Yosemite National Park. See (Accessed on 30/08/2020)


Gaia Donati studied physics in Italy and the UK and now lives in Switzerland. She writes short fiction in English and Italian, and breakfast is her favourite meal of the day. Her first flash fiction piece appeared online on National Flash Fiction Day 2020.

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