Every now and then, the memory of a frightening experience I had when I was 12 or 13 returns to haunt me. I was on a hiking trip along some mountain trails with a group of girls around my age. Although everyone knew I was afraid of heights, somehow my adventurous and always reassuring friend Candy had talked me into going. Her best friend Marti didn’t look too happy when I showed up but I wasn’t surprised, since Marti had always made it clear she couldn’t stand me. All day, Marti kept her eye on me and I knew why – she didn’t want me homing in on her status as “best friend.”

When we reached a beautiful clearing near the top of the mountain, Candy strayed from the others, pulling Marti and me along to a spot overlooking the Connecticut River. While the two of them oohed and aahed over the view, I concentrated on breathing. “You’re not going to die,” I told myself over and over. When Candy – ever the daredevil – inched closer to the edge, Marti sidled up next to me. As Marti’s hip pressed against mine, pushing me forward, she whispered, “I’d stay away from Candy if I were you.” Speechless, my eyes wide with fear, I dug in my heels. Glancing over at Candy, I realized she had no idea what had just happened.

It had happened so quickly and in the next instant it was over. I asked myself, “Did I imagine it?”

I’ve asked myself that question many times over the years and the answer is always the same: If it didn’t happen, why is the memory still so vivid?

And why am I writing about this now? The answer is…I’m not sure. But I’m thinking about the sequel to Project Ex and somehow I see Lydia Birnbaum at the edge of a precipice. Or is that me?

More to follow in my next post.