His fingertips were white now, and his forearms burned with the effort. But his feet seemed to know there was nothing but air, and his legs ceased their kicking, and his mind cleared. He looked past the two inches of limestone, up the mud-encrusted face, and saw nothing worth striving for. A smile spread gently.
“I want you to know,” he whispered, “I regret nothing.”
And with a final massive push that might have amounted to something, he tightened his core and pulled up, his free hand spread open and stabbing above him for anything reasonable. Then the two inches of limestone broke free, and he was gone.