Flash Fiction: The Mountains
It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything – it’s been a draining couple of weeks and my creativity has waned. I’ll be honest, I have no idea where this short piece came from. I wrote it in the twenty minutes before I went to bed last night, and I have not edited it.
He unzipped the tent door and stepped inside. It was unbearably loud out here in the woods, much louder than the city. It buzzed with life, and hummed with complete silence. He just couldn’t understand the great outdoors, couldn’t figure out why they grated him so. But she loved it out here, always had, so he tried his best to share her enthusiasm.
“Good morning.” He closed the door against the sunlight and sat down on top of his empty sleeping bag. He had two tin camping mugs in his hands. He handed one to her and she took it. Raised it to her lips and sipped. She smiled at him and he felt the happiness vibrating off of her. He tried to soak some of it in.
“Remember last time we were out here?”
Of course she remembered. It would have been impossible to forget what they had done, how they had driven out here on a whim, when it was dark, when it was dangerous, when the stars were inconceivably bright and close, close enough to pluck from the sky. And she had told him, she had said right then and there that it was forever, whatever they were doing, whatever they had, it was forever. And she meant it, truly meant it, and he was stuck.
She nodded her head. She remembered. Her smile widened and she took another sip of the coffee. Words were cheap, anyway.
They had made love out here, even though she told him she hated that phrase. What else could you call it? It was what it was. She belonged to him. Through love, through the stars, through the complete silence of the woods, she belonged to him. And he had to make sure she knew it. She remembered, yes, but did she remember the way he did? He didn’t think it was possible. It was so clear to him, clear as crystal.
“I miss you,” he said. Slowly, the cup came away from her lips. Her expression was unreadable for a moment, and then her eyes filled with tears. Just like last time, he thought. He hated it when she cried – he felt helpless, like he was supposed to do something, like he was supposed to just know how to act. She cried that first night, cried so hard, he thought she would never stop. She had begged him to take her home, of course, but how could she expect that of him? Didn’t she see that there was no way she could go home, now? She belonged to him. Through love. Through the stars.
“I’m sorry,” he said. She stared at him, unsmiling. The tears slipped down her face but her expression was hard, now. Stone.
He’d hidden her well, no one would ever find her. Nothing would disturb her. He could visit all he wanted, and she would be his, and no one else’s, forever. That had to count for something – he made sure she was comfortable, even in death. She could never say he hadn’t loved her enough to make sure of that.
Because she couldn’t say anything, he realized. She’d never speak again. And that was why her sleeping bag was soaked with coffee, that was why the tin cup she’d held now lay discarded atop the ubiquitous nylon. She couldn’t speak, much less drink coffee. She couldn’t speak, much less cry. She couldn’t speak, much less make love to him. He sat alone in his tent, two sleeping bags laid out.
He hated the mountains. He felt like he was being watched all the time. And all the same, he felt completely alone. He felt swallowed up by the huge sky and the fact that only one of those sleeping bags would ever be used again. Suddenly, he remembered why he hated the great outdoors. Suddenly, he remembered everything.