Reaching The Summit

Entry by: jaguar

22nd April 2015
The Carrier

You stand still at the top of the world, your lean energy as pointless now as a bolting cabbage. Behind you, your shadows splits in two. I cannot see your face.
‘Is this it?’ You call. ‘Have I reached the summit?’
I think about telling you there are more plateaus above you, more to aim for, this is just a step along the way. You rely on me for information like a child relies on its mother for wipes and tissues. You don’t realise you need it until you can’t go on without it. You have no idea how much effort and planning I put into carrying for you.
If you thought you weren't at the top would you step out into the white air and disappear? How many have done that, fallen off the earth not realising they’ve already triumphed?
I fiddle with the instruments as you glance back, checking why I haven’t replied. I don’t think you know how I feel. You didn’t see me watch you as the hope sprawled ugly across your face. Your ambition exposed as sharp as the rockface and just as selfish.
I’ve learnt so much on this trip. I’ve learnt that whatever I leave exposed will be consumed by cold. What I keep hidden burns on with hardcore heat. I have watched my body unravel and I despair about its recovery. You climbed in the relative warmth of my hard-won ice steps.
Now we’ve reached our target did you not think to have me by your side? I know climbing is your greatest passion but it matters to me too. Mountains are always ice maidens, capped by snow, bounded by the unknown. Yet their glistening crusts somehow form millions of knives that slit their way inside your soul.
Those knives are in my gloves now, slicing into my fingers. There is no point in thinking about them blackening, crumbling my tissues away. They are in my mind too, shredding my memory into unconnected fibres. They spread me out against the rock.
I feel so alone I wonder if I’m here at all. Then I crane my creaking neck up and see the white cat scratches planes left in the sky. People know we’re here. They will notice if we don’t come back.
I think about that day we spent down by the river just after we first met. About the charming antique shop with crystal door handles. How much I wanted those door handles. I thought we could have them on every door in the house we chose together. I didn’t believe it was possible to love someone more than I did you. I felt that love was the supreme emotion, that there was nothing more powerful.
I was wrong. I hadn’t experienced the gravity of hatred. I hadn’t hardened myself into my crampons of unrequited love, you resisting my touch the way the mountain does my boots. I was yet to feel something important loosen beneath my tread.
You rely on me to create your footholds. All the way up this mountain I’ve gone first. It was just the last stage where you preceded me. You will doubtless take the lead on the way down. You will be the one to find that ice screws inexplicably loosen and frost-bitten fingers may not fasten pulleys tight enough.
Overconfidence is a fatal error on a mountain. You haven't observed the conditions change around you. You have, finally, overloaded me.
I will let you go. I will let you hang in the middle of nowhere just long enough to understand how I feel. Then I’ll decide whether to haul you back in. I will make you join me on the top of a pile of trusting fools.