Short Story : On the Mountain

K and I are co-creating. I doodle on ArtRage, and he writes a little story for me. It makes us happy.

***

Painting Title_020I swing my aching legs over the top of the final boulder and collapse, exhausted but relieved. My lungs are on fire, and my head is spinning from the prolonged shortage of oxygen. I am no professional mountaineer, and this trek has been way tougher than I had imagined it would be. But still I have reached the summit, and as I stagger up to look around me I am rewarded with the most spectacular panorama I have ever witnessed. A vast ocean of rolling white clouds stretches out for miles in every direction, blanketing the earth below, broken only by the scattered mountain peaks that float across its surface like jagged, lonely islands. Above me, smoky wisps of cirrus drift lazily by, making it feel as though the ground beneath me is silently moving. I almost have to sit down again.

Looking down at where I am standing, I see small pools of water trapped within the flat, rocky surface. Tiny lakes gouged into the barren landscape, unable to flow away or evaporate, and growing silently through each diurnal cycle of freezing and thawing. Even in this lifeless environment, everything seems to possess some life of its own. Everything is shifting, evolving, at a geologic speed that I can hardly perceive. I exhale, my breath briefly coalescing into a transient cloud that drifts away and dissipates into vapour.

She is sitting there, right in front of me.

I blink, my mind unable to comprehend what my eyes are seeing. She is facing away from me, sitting with her legs crossed at the edge of a large rock that seems to drop away into nothing. I cannot see her face, and she’s wrapped up in this thick, puffy grey jacket that she has never worn before, but somehow I am certain that it is her. On her head is a huge grey beanie, or helmet, I cannot quite make out from where I am standing. I walk towards her, slowly, my mind reeling in disbelief. She was definitely not there a moment ago, yet my eyes would surely have caught some movement if she had suddenly appeared out of nowhere. It was almost as if she was always there, but that somehow my mind had yet to register her presence till now.

“Yin,” I whisper, hoping not to frighten her from her precarious perch. “What… are you doing here?”

She turns around to look at me, looking somewhat startled, but not nearly as shocked as I am. Almost as if she was expecting me to show up, just perhaps not right at this moment. She smiles briefly at me, then turns back to look out into the sky beyond, quietly beckoning me to share this moment with her. I take a tentative step forward, and for a few moments we gaze out at the cloud ocean in silence.

“It’s so beautiful, just like you said it would be.”

“Just like… ?”

“I can sit here forever, really,” she continues, stretching her legs out and dangling them over the edge, “Just looking at this.”

My mind is filled with questions. Am I dreaming? Is she a ghost? How did she get up here? What in the world is she wearing on her head? Why is she even…?

Am I dreaming?

“Me too,” I say, lowering myself to sit down beside her.

“This is the best day of my life,” she declares softly to the wind, and I notice that her left cheek is wet. Then she laughs lightly, looking up into the sky, and as I follow her gaze I realize that it is beginning to drizzle. The drops of water fall gently on my face, erasing my own tears as I find myself laughing out loud with her, our voices ringing out across the thin mountain air.

Written by Kenneth
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