The Last Jew in the Climbing Gym

On belay? Belay’s on.

She finds comfort in these words, a promise of protection before leaving ground. She doesn’t know why she climbs. Something about how her muscles move, the feeling of fluidity. Climbing is a partner sport one does alone. So something about contradictions, too.

She thinks in hypotheticals. Could it work? Climbing is a question, not an answer. Her legs stem and split; fingers crimp, pinch, hold. There’s hope in her chalk bag. She grips, hangs, and wonders.

Oh, what her ancestors survived for her to do something as frivolous as free climb. Oh, how she survives too.


Brooke Randel is a writer and associate creative director in Chicago. Her writing has been published in Gigantic Sequins, Hypertext Magazine, Jewish Fiction, Pidgeonholes, Smokelong Quarterly, and elsewhere. Find more of her work at brookerandel.com. Twitter: @brookerandel.