The crackle of countless raindrops against thousands of leaves roared around Moxy Jones. It was the hardest rain of the season, and he started regretting telling his friends they would have a blast if they followed him.
The waterfall he had in mind was beautiful on a sunny day, but with rain crashing down around them he doubted anyone would still care.
“Which way,” Jennifer said, rubbing some water off of her brow and forehead as it seeped down through her helmet and across her face.
Globs of mud and bits of leaves were stuck to her face, and Moxy imagined she was putting on war paint to fight him. The frown sported by her and Samantha made him cringe, but Samantha at least had smiled at him when they first stopped.
“Any day now, champ,” Andrew said.
Anyone that saw their group would assume Andrew was the alpha male. He was tall and lanky, but the deep voice he had been blessed with provided an air of command that rode on every word he uttered.
“The trail is all but washed away,” Moxy said, looking off in the direction they were supposed to be heading. “This is definitely the way, but taking it will be difficult.”
Muddy water rushed over their shoes and tires, flowing down from higher up the mountain. The trees split in a straight line ahead, but the water had eroded most of the dirt and mud on the trail, and it was littered with exposed roots and rocks.
He glanced back over his shoulder at the rivulets flowing down the mountainside. “But turning back is suicide,” he said.
“Great,” Andrew replied, turning his front tire up the mountain and causing Samantha and Jennifer to do the same. “Well, I’m not about to waste my whole Saturday sitting here looking at you. I didn’t take off work to do that. Looks like only one trail anyway.”
Moxy never liked Andrew, but he adored Samantha, and Sam was Jennifer’s best friend, and Jennifer loved Andrew. Andrew muscled his way up a few inches before bumping into a root and halting. Still trying to muscle his way up caused him to fall with a splash and Moxy grinned as Andrew released a slew of curse words.
Yanking up his bike he swiped some mud from his clothes before lifting his vehicle over the root and trying again. This time he made it a little further. The girls followed his example, lifting their bikes over the roots before muscling up inch by inch.
Moxy stayed behind for a few moments, swallowing hard. He’d been on his fair share of dangerous trails, but now he also had to keep up appearances to impress Samantha.
When everyone else was a good distance in front, he muscled his way up as well. They climbed a bit further and reached a wide turn that went horizontal. It was flat enough to remove any danger of toppling over and tumbling down the mountainside, but Moxy still kept his eyes on the ground to watch for hazards.
Andrew fell a second time at the start of another incline, and this time Moxy took the lead, informing them that the trail would split a number of times more before they reached their destination so he would guide now.
He led the way, and his mouth gummed up when he remembered that reaching the waterfall could only be achieved after a dangerous cutback. He led the group through the safer turns, and when they approached the dangerous one, he stopped.
“This cutback is hard to take in clear weather. With the rain it’ll almost certainly end in disaster,” Moxy said, swinging his leg over his bike and putting a foot on the ground.
“Pansy. Yolo!” Andrew said, tapping his helmet with his palm before lifting his butt off of his seat and heading down the initial part of the path.
With a joyful scream, Jennifer did the same, and Moxy’s heart started to pound. Samantha glanced at him and smiled before following her bestie. Moxy groaned as he watched them all descend, knowing he couldn’t be the only one to chicken out. He made the sign of the cross on his chest and hopped back onto his bike.
He saw Andrew reach the cutback and start to skid. He hoped Andrew clipped a root or a rock and flew over the edge of the quickly fading path, tumbling down the side of the mountain. Then it would be easy to convince everyone else to walk it. But, miraculously, he skidded on through the cutback and continued, reaching the level ground. Jennifer all but braked to a stop to make the turn, and Samantha did the same.
When the two girls made it to safety, the trio stopped and watched Moxy’s turn. His heart continued to pound within his chest as he neared the angle. He swallowed hard and tried to skid like Andrew, closing his eyes for a second as his tires lost traction. He compensated by leaning away from the bend a little, and his bike slowed, and he made the turn.
He sighed audibly, and the whole group laughed as he pedaled to the front and led them the rest of the way.
Powered by the torrential downpour around us, the waterfall roared its way over the rocky cliff and down into a pool below like a fluid freight train. It was loud enough that we all had to yell to communicate. Moxy tried to tell them how pretty it was when it was sunny, but Andrew started to strip off his clothes.
“What are you doing?” Moxy said, knitting his brow together.
“We’re already soaking wet,” he said, pulling his pants down and displaying a pair of Tasmanian Devil Loony Toon boxers. “Might as well have a little fun.”
With a yip, he jumped off the ledge and into the pool below. His splash was all but drowned out by the roar of the falls. Jennifer and Samantha started doing the same, giggling. Moxy blushed and turned away, taking off his shirt like it had been soaked in molasses instead of water. When it came to his pants, he started thinking of whether or not his underwear was sexy.
“Nice tighty whities,” Andrew yelled from the pool below.
“They’re blue! And they’re boxer briefs!” Moxy yelled back. “How are you guys enjoying that? It’s freezing!”
Moxy hugged himself, but when Sam looked up at him with her big blue eyes, he took a deep breath and leaped over the edge. He plopped beneath the surface and opened his eyes. It was light enough above so that he had a clear view of the surface, and under the water, the rain appeared magnificent as it struck the pool. The sound was muffled now, but he could see the falls crashing into the pool a bit further away.
He surfaced and made eye contact with Sam. Jennifer and Andrew were splashing each other, so Moxy swam over to Sam. With a playful giggle, she swatted a hand full of water in his direction. He splashed back and for a while allowed himself to forget about how difficult it would be to descend the mountain in the current conditions.