Lurking On The Precipice
Lurking On The Precipice
M esmerized by the splendor of the Aztec sandstone cliffs under a brilliant blue, cloudless sky, Pari Malik leans back and rests her head on the monumental boulder. She stretches her arms out to her sides, reaching as far as she can, and closes her eyes.
The desert sunshine is pleasant on her eyelids, glowing a luminous red color in harmony with the rocks surrounding her. Completely relaxed, Pari's imagination flourishes and she conjures up the appearances of majestic beings who thrived on this exact spot millions of years ago. The pointed-headed marine reptiles called ichthyosaurs, as large as trucks, swimming with flippers like dolphins, prospered when the region was covered by a shallow sea. Later, these cliffs were roamed by saber tooth tigers and giant mammoths and mastodons.
Here we are now, she ponders-humans, of relatively insignificant size, just four to seven feet in height-somehow presuming superiority over all previous forms of life. What arrogance.
Who will be resting on this boulder 180 million years from now? Will she, too, assume ultimate supremacy and grandiosity of her species?
As a vigorous gust of wind blows through Pari's long brown hair and cotton t-shirt, she hears her mobile device sliding away from her. Sensing that it is drifting toward the edge of the rock, she lunges for it. Her fingers graze the side of the device and change its direction, but fumble and fail to clutch it. Pari loses her balance and rolls down the steep surface. She desperately attempts to clamp onto protruding surfaces on the boulder, to no avail.
Shrieking, Pari plunges headfirst over the cliff.
Roman Antonius, panicked, peers over the edge and fears the worst, while nearby tourists scream, having witnessed her fall. One of them instantly calls 9-1-1.
Thirty feet below, Pari is standing on her feet with her knees bent from the ferocity of landing upright on a canyon ledge. She is looking up at Roman, astonished, and bracing herself with her hands on the serrated bluff just inches in front of her.
"You are alive!" he cheers.
"I think so," Pari answers.
"I thought you were certainly dead. What happened?"
"Is my phone broken?"
"Are you broken?" Roman responds. "Stay right there, Pari."
Roman confirms to the strangers nearby that his friend survived her fall and appears to have crashed below without sustaining massive injury. He quickly and agilely climbs down toward her.
"Did your head strike the ground or any rock surface?" he asks.
"No," Pari replies, "Somehow my legs just flipped completely over. I landed just like this. On my feet."
"A miracle landing! Or you have a guardian angel."
"I would love to believe I have an angel," Pari says, sitting down on a flat rock behind her. "However, I can settle for having the most opportune luck and good fortune, at least at this moment."
Roman examines her legs, hips, and arms for any signs of wounds.
"Ouch!" Pari cries out, reaching toward her knee.
"What's broken?" he asks.
"I'm broken, Roman. How idiotic of me to tumble overboard from being lost in a daydream."
"Nonsense. Let's start with your bones. Where are you hurting?"
"My leg got jarred, but I don't think it's fractured," Pari replies. "I had my full weight on it just moments ago."
"Stand up, please."
Roman helps steady Pari on her feet. She is able to take small steps forward and backward.
"I'm okay, I think," Pari says. "Just sore. And shocked."
"It's time to count your blessings. That fall could easily have been the end of you."
"Wow, I went from bliss to peril in mere s