Thursday, January 5, 2012


I shall attempt to continue writing a short story each week this year, and so, here's the first of 2012! As usual, it remains unedited and whatnot. Title *wrinkles nose* doesn't work yet but I'll have to fiddle with it to get it right. (*cough, cough* Suggestions welcome!) 

Note: Contains some mild cursing, but nothing too bad.


Behind the hill that was almost a mountain to some and just a bump in the rocks to others, she lengthened her stride. The sun was coming up. It was one of the angry suns. Angry suns meant beauty and a bit of snow later in the day or week. His breath puffed out to the rhythm of the words as they crunched through his mind. This high up, suns were usually a calm thing. A steady thing. The mountains did not care that a sun rose or a sun set beyond their peaks. For they were too old. Had seen too many suns. But some mornings—he paused for breath as she tramped farther from him --mornings like this there was a raging grace that swept down the sky to the rocks of the peaks as if to demand that someone, something, especially the mountains, take note that there was indeed a sun, and by God, it was indeed going to rise, and from it would spill the clouds down and across in orange and fuchsia and a blue violet, the colors the heavens left behind when they fought the earth and bruised one another.

He started again. Poked his snow pole deep. She stalked up the path without one. The colored light strengthened around the two of them. Now she was a good fifty foot ahead and above him. Always ahead and above. She became more than just a dark silhouette in the predawn. She was suddenly a creature. A being of life made of secondhand nylon and polyester and wool. And here and there, bits of dawn-pinked flesh and staticky hair flying out from under her cap.

At the top of the hill that was almost a mountain and just a bump in the rocks there were three boulders. They were spectacular boulders. Two were next to one another, each the size of an outhouse. Someone each spring propped three or four felled logs against the side of the slightly smaller boulder to make a steeply angled ramp, then climbed and hefted more logs across the one flat top and onto the other, so that when the snow came the expanse across the boulder tops was high and treacherous, but solid. The third boulder stood a ways away. It was small. Perhaps the size of a foreign car. He climbed atop it and sat, breaths coming fast. Of course she picked the other one.

“I’m going up!”

He nodded. She had a crazy streak. Impossible to argue with her. She yanked off her gloves. The fell onto the snow one by one, not heavy enough to make a dent in the ice pack. Backing up in line with the ramp, she tucked her chin into her scarves and ran at it like a bull. Always doing things like that. He said nothing as she clamber-scrambled up the wriggling logs onto the top of the first boulder. A few moments later and she’d clamber-scrambled up to the flat top of the slightly taller boulder.

“It’s going to snow!”

Her voice was tinny. He nodded.

“I know. Afternoon, you think?”

“What? Say, come up!”

It took him much longer. He was not the sun. He was not a bull. He did not have an angry grace. Still, he was glad he topped the boulders.

“Look at that cloud,” she said, pointing a red-knuckled hand at the spread. The colors were fading to more normal blues now, but here in the land of rock and sun, a dark blue gray cloud like that meant snow, and meant snow fast. It coated the ridge-line of the divide right where the valley opened from the pass.

“Looks like it’ll get here soon. You still want to make the hike?”

“Sure! I found that book on tracks you know! We can get back before the storm if we hurry.”

“Alright.” The crazy streak. “What set do you want to follow?”

“I think I saw some muskrat tracks down th — wait,” she said, motioning and then dropping her hand. The pivot she made as she sat on the icy rock in her snow pants made an odd sound, a moan of fabric. She pivoted one way then the other. “I can’t find them! Well shit!” She clamber-scrambled to her feet. “I can’t see any of the tracks!” She turned and turned. He stood, and looked too, but her fierce strides in the snow had mangled all the animal tracks leading out from the boulders. There were none to see.


By the time the first of the snow began to fall she had consented to follow and me to lead. He knew she wasn’t happy about it. But it didn’t matter. They’d get lost if she lead. Can’t get lost on a mountain; too horrific. Certainly can’t get lost on a mountain when it’s starting to snow. Even if the snow was the light, snowglobe kind. He found a path, mostly smoothed into ice by boots and pet prints. Only a thin layer of powder.

“Hey look!”

He turned, poked his pole into the ground.

“What’s up beautiful? What’d you find?”

Her head was ducked to the snow to the right side of them, as it fell from the path steeply and down the mountain.

“Bear! Black bear I think!” She shoved a hand into the large pocket of her snow pants and produced the library book of tracks and scat. Began flipping clumsily with her gloves. “Yes,” she announced. “Black bear. I’m following it.” And she tramped off the path, slide-shuffling down the embankment of the path that wound around the mountain.

“No Miranda. No way.” He flicked out his arm and caught her by the scruff of her scarves. And it made him laugh for some reason. “Just stay with me. For now, alright? No traipsing off into the wild blue when there’s a snow coming on.”

Her shoulders hunched for a moment and then she turned awkwardly in the snow so that she faced him once more.

“Oh, alright. Stick in the mud.”

“Stick in the snow maybe.” And they both laughed. She was crazy, but sometimes she listened.


“So I hear you been going on with that crazy Miranda woman, huh Bob?”

This from Wayland, his business partner as they sat in the office at the back of the snowmobile shop. Wayland’s beard had a way of twitching when he thought something funny, but he never laughed outright. Never. It used to bug Bob, but now he took it as a blessing, and nodded his reply as he went over the previous month’s invoices.

“Maybe you’re a little crazy too then I think. Isn’t she the one that sleeps up in the boulders most of the year and sneaks into the condo saunas to take her showers? What’d she do, invite you over to her cave for coffee?” And the clipped blonde beard jumped slightly.

“Who’s the one with a date tonight, hmm?”

“Oh-ho,” Wayland said, leaning forward on his desk. “What do you do on these dates?”

“Hike, snowshoe. There’s a meteor shower tonight we’re going to watch.”

“Well, she’s your kind of woman. No dinner-and-a-movie for you, hmmm?”

“At least I’m not always between wives.”

“At least I can tell now when a woman is just plumb crazy. Took me a while, true, but I can spot ‘em. Easier to spot than a mountain.”

“Yeah, yeah.” And Bob laughed, leaned back in his chair. “Miranda’s pretty wild sometimes — all those theories she’s got about the world — but she’s getting calmer. Doesn’t wander off from me during our dates anymore.” And for good measure, Bob laughed some more. The other night she’d launched into an explanation of how the center of the world was a crystal, and in the mountains the inner workings of that crystal were closer to the surface than at sea level, because of how the mountains were thrown up from the center millennia ago, and that because the crystal was so close to the surface the radio stations were always impossible to pick up. The signals were thrown off because of the extra crystal, she’d explained magnanimously. He hadn’t the heart to tell her they only had three stations, AM and FM, because nobody lived up here full time hardly; she’d been so enlivened as she spoke and he saw her soul in her pupils when she spoke of how the mountains got thrown into existence.

“Wander off? Shit Bob,” and the beard was vibrating with mirth now, as Wayland shook his head.

“Yeah…”and suddenly he knew there was no good reason to not laugh ever. He laughed and laughed, and thought of their date that coming night.


The meteor shower was less spectacular than lying back down on a tarp beside her, he decided. His head felt heavy with it, whatever it was between them. His skull pressed into the tarp, into the cold ground beneath that, to the rock that was really only a layer to protect the ancient crystal in which Miranda believed so fervently. She wrapped a mittened hand around his glove and perhaps squeezed —through all that fabric it was hard to tell, but he thought so — and that was their first touch.

“There went one,” she said, and still holding his glove she arced her free arm above them. He followed the gesture and saw it. “Isn’t it incredible? I’m holding your hand but I can’t hardly feel it. And even if we didn’t have on all these layers, and our bare hands were out and grasping one another, we still wouldn’t be touching, not really, because you and I are just a bundle of atoms like everything else, and between atoms there is always space, so you and I would never ever really touch. No matter how bare our skin or how bare our souls, we no more touch each other than we touch those meteors.”

And her arm dropped, but the hands remained joined. Joined but not scientifically touching.

“Wonder how the distance between our atoms and the atoms of the meteors figures in.”

“Do you think a meteor gets lonely? Or is the nearness of the other meteors enough? What is the probability of a snowflake getting caught on a tongue and melting? What is melting, when there is no touch? What is heat? What is lust? What is love?”

“You talk crazy.”

“You like it.”

And they laughed and laughed together.


Somehow he dozed off, there on the outcropping of rock jutting from one of the lower, climbable peaks. When he awoke he was covered in a fat, good sleeping bag patched here and there with duck tape where the stuffing had tried to escape. He was cold. He was cold, and she was gone, and a light snow had fallen just sometime recent, for the morning sky still had the slow whitish gray of clouds to it, and he knew the sun that morning was a calm sun, and that there were no tracks to follow her from, because she was gone for good. He stood, and walked down the mountain alone. Some other day he would follow her.


  1. Niiiice goal for 2012 - be sure to check in at the Chrysalis blog to share your progress and so on :)

  2. "-mornings like this there was a raging grace that swept down the sky to the rocks of the peaks as if to demand that someone, something, especially the mountains, take note that there was indeed a sun, and by God, it was indeed going to rise, and from it would spill the clouds down and across in orange and fuchsia and a blue violet, the colors the heavens left behind when they fought the earth and bruised one another. "

    I just love this sentence. I do. It's so very descriptive and poignant.

  3. Thanks you two!

    I'll miss the prompts, but so far so good. Hopefully I'll hit every week this year. I'll do up my progress
    report *grimace* this weekend. No getting behind!!!!

    And I'm glad you like that sentence Michael--thought it might be too heavy, but I trust your judgement :) He he. Especially when it doesn't involve editing.