On This Mountain

Entry by: odgemob

1st April 2015
On this mountain: we sit like we always used to, shoulders nearly touching. Not at the top, but a little below, in a kind of hollow in the rocks where the wind can’t get at us- can't billow our clothes or run away with the sound of our voices. There's a story about that, I think. About a bright eyed boy who has to chase the wind to get his voice back. I have vague memories of my grandmother telling it, seated in front of the fire, her voice old like the smoke, like the wind, like this mountain.

When it’s rained there's a little stream that passes through here, but it's dry now- a ribbon of dust, that's all.
Looking out we can see all around- the other mountains, the fields, the lumbering river. And the village (your village? our village?), spiralled into the dust below like a broken snail shell.
From up here the village always looked small.

You say: "We used to race each other to the top, do you remember?"

I think: of burning limbs and gasping lungs and crouching at the top in a haze of pain and triumph and laughter. I think: of how we’d stick our heads into the stream to gulp down water afterwards. Our minds and teeth would freeze with the cold, but we’d shake our wet hair like dogs and jump up and down to warm ourselves up.

I say: "Yes. Yes. I remember. You always won."

You say with a grin: "True. Well... I think about that sometimes. Me and Simon... sometimes we just joke that when you’re famous, I’ll say, 'well I used to beat her in races up the mountain by our village!' and no one will believe it. They’ll say I’m a liar, but I’ll know it’s true."

I tighten my smile but something inside me drops a bit.

"I’m not going to be famous." I say softly.

You smile, but you don’t believe me. I can see it in the corners of your mouth in the tiny exasperated roll of your eyes.

In me I feel the city; the way it snarls, the way the air is. Here the air is filled with God, filled with snow and rain and the purity of wind. The air tosses itself up in itself and your soul feels salted, feels cleansed like a fish, like a translucent fish. City air comes from beneath; it is the fetid evaporation from the boiling of humans and it twists into circles trying to find a way out. I’m in the mountains now, but the city air fills my stomach and balloons me downwards.

I scrape my fingernails full of dirt but, where I once would have seen life and rains and the scent of crops, now the dirt in my nails looks like poverty and grubby children trying to grow up in falling down houses, in a place where the sky is hidden by factories.

"Not much has changed huh?" You say. And you’re looking at me with your chin pushed forwards like a challenge.

"Not true. Things have changed.”

“Name one?”

"Your sister has grown. My father’s uncle has died and his wife looks different-she keeps singing and touching people’s faces. Pat painted his shop yellow. And everything is smaller."

"Not smaller." You say. You look puzzled.

It gets dark gradually. The sun shrugs its shoulders and screams bright red for a moment through the shattered clouds, then begins to settle down for the night.

The village turns grey and is punctuated with tiny lights.

You say: "We used to try and point out everyone's houses- do you remember?"

"Yes." I say shortly. I'm suddenly tired of it all. Tired of memory- the way it lays itself upon my shoulders and whispers and whispers and whispers.

"Let's go." I say.

You nod. So we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves down, and continue our stumbling pilgrimage down this mountain towards a broken snail shell, towards the cluster of lights which just doesn't feel like home anymore.