On This Mountain

Entry by: Kent Ocelot

3rd April 2015
Beneath her semi-shod feet, the land dropped away. If she kicked off her one remaining shoe, she would have time to climb off the wall, turn away and not see it hit the ground. She was receiving strange looks from some people, as though they thought the wall might suddenly rear up and tip her off. Were these people always nervous of falling off where they sat?

She recognised his tread before she could see him. The wood floor on the bar behind her, quite at the summit, the bar surrounded by the wall, was loud when stepped on and he’d always been deliberate.

She stood on the wall to see, much to the alarm of the people who frequently fell off their chairs. She didn’t tell them that she didn’t usually fall over where she stood either. Unable to see him, and suddenly frightened of losing her Eurydice, of the watched pot failing to boil, she sat back down and faced away, leaning over to see the train as it rolled up the mountain.

“Didn’t expect to see you here.” His voice sounded never quite broken, each syllable travelling through several nasal tones.

“I followed you.”

“In a sense.”

“I always said I’d find you here.”

“You did.” She’d always known he’d retire to the mountains.

“You didn’t believe it.”

“Neither did you.”

“Not until…well, after…that is to say, I did, obviously. Here I am.”

“Mmm.” He lit a cigarette, sheltering it with his cavernous hands. A luxury he could now indulge in, she supposed. Removed his glasses to smoke it. Flicked each handle against the rims in turn before putting them back on.

Of course he did.

“Here you are, and having come here, you are doing what you can to draw attention. Excitement.”

“Belonging here is not a virtue in itself. Underage tweed is not a virtue in itself.”

“And what age should I start wearing it?” An uncommon nasal snap. She quietened. “Don’t annoy me. I could push you.” She smiled.

“Nothing stays dead now.”


“I’d probably get a sequel.” He placed his light-coloured pint on the wall and sat, hip flush to hers, back to her view.

“If anyone’s Grim Reaper has artistic integrity, it’s yours.” She shook her head, smiling wider.

“I think my Grim Reaper has a pragmatic sense of what’s bankable.” He gazed at her, the last of rich Gauloise drifting her way. It never lingered on him, but he breathed it on her and it would cling to her skin and her hair. A little monster of temptation; if she’d walked past a pub garden while he was trying to stop smoking, the hug when she got home had sent him scrambling for the off-licence.

His little monster of temptation, an enigmatic blur once he’d taken his glasses off.

Once, early on, halfway into the mood he’d told her to wait. Taken his glasses off and sat back, eyes tense, to short-sightedly stare at her outline. She’d fallen about, eyes watering with laughter.
“Shall I put them on so I can’t see you properly either?” she’d asked and, finally, he’d started laughing too.

He probably wasn’t tempted by her here. Did he find anything funny here? She didn’t look at him.

“Yes, maybe.” He sipped and she reached out for the glass. “Don’t. You’ll fall off.”

“I won’t.”

“Lots of people say that.”

“Just because you’re here doesn’t mean you know everything.”

“But I do know that.”

She hadn’t followed him in order to ignore what he had to say. Leaving his drink, she leant back on her wrists, her arm touching his where they crossed.

“I feel as though there should be a ceremony for sunset,” she commented, staring up into the sky. “It must be spectacular.”

“You’d think, but nothing’s vivid here. The people who want to come here aren’t the ones who value the spectacular.” The light flattered the village, but it was a grey half-light, semi-illuminating a prettily slapdash settlement. She kicked her legs at the view she stood over. “And who else is sitting on the wall, staring at that? Nothing vivid. Nothing except you, until you leave.”

“I wish you’d been vivid,” she said, staring at him directly for the first time, but he was no longer looking at her.

His smile, so awkward. As though his teenage braces had never been removed. So awkward with even her, even now. “You never used to wish that.”

“No, I – I don’t mean I wish – I don’t wish now for you to be, to have been different. I just meant I wish you could be the one to brighten it.”

“Then I wouldn’t be here. Brightening’s your job.”

“Until I leave,” she repeated softly.

“You can’t stay. You can’t follow me for the rest of your life.” He gestured at the bar, at its insipid wine. “They’re concerned for you because they all want to be you. They assumed they belonged here, but now they want to come down. They want to live.” She gripped the wall and leant forward, looking over the shear mountainside.

“L’appel du vide.”

“La folie a deux,” he returned. “You’ll go back for…”

“Hard to maintain on one’s own.”

“You have enough folie for ten, let alone two.”

“If I followed it, I could stay here forever.”

“Ah, love,” He made the false start of a smile. “Not all the dead can be found in the mountains.”