[excerpt from a nonfiction essay in progress. Feedback on this preliminary drafting process welcome]
I want to kiss all the men, all the (insert appropriate subject of desire here), is what everybody thinks, always. It is what I cannot think about on my ascent. The first ten minutes are fine, I smile and find my step. Then there is incline and all of a sudden I feel my heart beating too loudly.
I cannot breathe, I think, of course I can breathe because I am but it weighs heavily on me, this exhaustion. Station closest to the starting point, here I am: pathetically crying in secret with my too large eyes and my ill-fitting borrowed hiking clothes.
Each step is physical hell, from now on. I do not know hell. I do not know my body at all, here. This is me, my weak system coping, barely, with lack of oxygen and too large a distance to any other body. I have not touched anybody in almost three months and it shows. My limbs flailing around as I hold on to stones. My skin alternating between basking in sweat and freezing cold. My hands searching the air for somebody, some form, all distanced by rules and really I should do a couple more steps to let others pass. To let all the hikers, the climbers, pass, it seems, but when I turn around there are hundred others waiting, climbing, behind me still. The darkness absolute except for the mountain huts a few meters, really, how absurd, they are so close and here I am kneeling, almost catching my breath. Except for my borrowed headlight.