I froze with fear, overlooking paradise.
While serving at Barbers Point Naval Air Station, Hawaii, my best friends Vicky and Steve decided to climb the Stairway to Heaven or Haʻikū Ladder.
“Come with us, Cherrilynn,” Steve said.
“You can climb 3,922 steps. Our fellow Radiomen did it every day during the Second World War,” Vicky said.
We were off duty and wanted a challenge, so we donned our hiking boots and drove to the Haiku Radio station. Upon arrival, the clerk handed each of us a waiver. Without hesitation, Vicky and Steve signed it.
“Did you even read this waiver?” I said. The paper shook as I held it. “It states that they take no responsibility if we fall and die.”
“We got your back, Cherrilynn. We won’t let anything happen to you,” Steve said.
I signed my waiver. “Let’s go.”
The climb was arduous but the scenery breathtaking.
About two hours into our hike Steve announced, “We’re at the scariest part.”
In front of us was a ladder with a thousand foot drop on either side.
“Wow, that is scary,” Vicky said.
We looked at the metal structure.
“I’ll wait here. You two go ahead,” I said.
“You came this far. We won’t go without you.” Steve said as he sipped his water.
“Cherrilynn, I’ve seen you get through scarier things than this.” Vicky put her hand on my shoulder. “Remember when our engine flamed out during a mission?”
I remembered. It didn’t help.
“Why don’t you go first, Cherrilynn, and we’ll follow?” Steve said.
I took a deep breath, placed my hands on the ladder, and climbed five of the ten rungs. I paused.
“Don’t look down!” Vicky said.
“Too late.” The universe whirled a thousand feet below me.
“Cherrilynn, are you ok?” Steve’s voice thickened with concern.
“No, my legs won’t move.”
Steve climbed the first two steps.
“Don’t touch me!” I began to cry.
“Cherrilynn, do you trust me?” Steve touched my foot.
“Yes, but I’m scared. What if we fall?”
By the time I finished my sentence, Steve was directly behind me, his hands on the rungs above mine.
“Let’s move together and get you to level ground.”
As we climbed, I gripped the ladder. I feared my best friend would fall to his death if I moved too fast.
“I got your back.” Steve kept whispering in my ear.
“You’re almost there,” Vicky said.
Steve stepped onto the plateau and pulled me to safety.
“We made it!” Steve and I threw our hands up in victory.
“Thank you, Steve. You did have my back.”
We enjoyed the rest of the day, talking about our friendships, fears, and the beauty around us.
Difficult times are inevitable—life can be unpredictable, whether you serve our country or keep the home fires burning. I encourage you to cultivate friendships so when you get frozen with fear—someone has your back.
Cherrilynn Bisbano served her country for seven years full time Navy and finished out the rest of her twenty years as a Multi Media-Combat Camera Specialist with the Rhode Island National Guard.
Currently she is a writer, speaker, editor and works as a junior literary agent. She hosts Genre Chat where she has the honor of interviewing professional writers.