I Couldn’t Feel my Toes

It was my last ski run of the winter holidays and the dreadful thought of going back to school in 48 hours was consuming me. Although the winds were brutal and the nighttime visibility was poor, I couldn’t resist the thought of taking my mind off of homework for one last moment to ski in Bromont with my godfather, his family, my mom and my brother. As I got up from the blue plastic chair and struggled buckling the top clip on my already sweaty and cold ski boots, I took one final bite of my poutine and smelt one last whiff of the chicken noodle soup my brother was finishing next to me. I zipped my white jacket to the point where I couldn’t take a breath without it unzipping. I was bracing myself for a night skiing adventure I never expected to happen.

I stepped outside into the harsh cold and the night’s mysterious darkness. I was already looking forward to the run being over. I had just put on my warm “Swany Toaster” mittens. I certainly wasn’t planning on taking them off, but all of a sudden my cell phone began to vibrate in the tucked pocket of my white jacket. It was virtually impossible to reach it with those bulky mittens on. The moment I exposed my fingers to the wind and violent snow, I began to seriously second guess this last run. “Hey Léa, yeah… So… We’re actually on the other side of the mountain at “Le Versant du Village”, if you and your family could meet us there, that would be great.” Luca, my godfather Bill’s 15-year-old son said. He was calm since he hadn’t been skiing all day. “Sure, we’ll take the “Versant du Lac” lift and meet you at the bottom of the Brome.” I answered. Half of me was thrilled to go skiing with the Treshams for the last time of the season. The other half was already so freezing that I couldn’t imagine carving my path on another run today, and taking an extra run down to meet them. The consequences of not paying enough attention to this wiser half of me were yet to come.

We met our friends at the designated place and got in line for the chairlift. We decided to take the one with the shorter line. It was a decision I would soon regret. We proceeded up the mountain in normal fashion when suddenly the lift came to a jarring halt. “It must be a hiccup,” I quickly thought. The lift stops all the time. People get on the chair badly, a child needs assistance, and the possibilities go on and on. Unfortunately,none of these were the case. There were seven of us, and I (13-years-old) sat on the first chairlift with 17-year-old Vanessa (my godfather’s daughter Olivia’s best friend), 15-year-old Luca (a fearless skier) and his 14-year-old friend Nicolas (also an experienced skier). My 10-year-old brother and mom sat in the chairlift behind us with my godfather, Bill. I must admit, I was part of the “cool chairlift.” In order to keep my status and not make the older teenagers regret taking me on their lift, I couldn’t act worried about the hiccup in the chairlift, although it was killing me inside. At this point, both chairlifts were stopped. There was an elephant in the room. Who would be the first person to break the ice?

“Ok… This isn’t funny, do you guys know what could be going on?” Vanessa said with a nervous giggle. The minutes dragged on, 5 became 10, 10 became 20 and the skiers became scarcer and scarcer under us. As I looked back, I discovered with horror that the whole mountain was pitch black. The ski chalet, the houses and the boutiques were all haunted in darkness. My three fellow chair-lifters were avoiding the subject, which was probably the smartest thing to do, but at the time, all it did was make me think about it more. I kept trying to wiggle my toes to make sure they hadn’t fallen off. I had clutched my fingers in the palm of my hand – within the mitten – to assure maximum warmth. My goggles were tightly pressed on my red and white hypothermic cheeks and I had developed a technique to re-zip my coat nearly every time I would breathe. Thirty lengthy minutes on the stopped chairlift, after a useless but entertaining conversation on such we would bring on a deserted island (my lucky penny – of course), Luca took Vanessa’s iPod out of her right jacket pocket.

“Who likes Kanye West?” He asked as he scrolled through her music.

I did, but I was too preoccupied to answer. A whole new conversation was born, but this time, with light background music coming from the speakers on Vanessa’s iPod.

A few minutes later, the ski patrol came.

“What’s happening?” I asked tentatively.

“The generator is not working. We are trying to fix it as soon as we can.” The first one answered.

“For now, we are just taking safety precautions.”
As I saw the patrollers take out the safety nets, I felt my heart come out of my chest. The logistics of coming down the chairlift via ladder or net were racing through my frozen brain and suddenly, I heard Luca say “So who wants to jump?”, was he crazy? He must be joking! I looked ahead and noticed the couple in the chairlift in front of us had jumped off. I was frozen. Would I be pressured by these teenagers to jump off? Fourty-five minutes passed. At that moment, I heard a soft whirring noise in the cold mountain air. It was a noise of salvation, the generator had finally kicked in (and I had managed to not jump off ). We inched our way to the landing spot after a 100 minutes. We finally disembarked. While my mother and brother decided to wait for the rescuing ski-doo, I impulsively tore down the hill on my own, dreaming of the warm ski chalet. The run was like a black hole. My visibility was low but I miraculously reached my destination. I was crying beneath my goggles and I held myself back from shedding another tear when I saw Bill and Luca race in front of me.

When I saw my dad waiting for me at the bottom of the still dark hill, I felt an intense feeling of euphoria. The horror that I had just experienced had not fully set in. I couldn’t stop crying when I finally sat in the crowded restaurant. When I felt sensation again in my toes, I knew the worst was over. I was so happy that I had survived something that I would’ve dreaded in my worst nightmares. When I finally unthawed, my godfather Bill uttered words that I will never forget. “Shit happens.”

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