Elephant's Child posted these words for writing prompts this week and while I wasn't initially inspired, I'm trying to work through the slow start and explore, experiment, write regardless...
Whew. Okay I can't figure out the formatting for the prompt words but at least I got this workin' normal!
Michael huddled near the center of his brilliant orange, leaf thin, six hundred dollar aerodynamic tent. The wind howled and screamed as if a troop of ghouls haunted the mountainside. The designer jacket designed to resist Neptune's more than frigid temperatures was zipped past his chin, the thickly woven, tight fitting cap pulled down low on his brown underneath the fur lined hood. His undefended fingers clutched a thin mountaineering manual as the roaring of his heart drowned out the winds.
What the hell had he been thinking? Didn't that salesman have an obligation not to encourage inexperienced idiots from climbing big mountains? Wasn't there some seminar about watching out for those middle-aged divorcees? Something about brotherhood and "doing the right thing?" No. Apparently there were pats on the back and employee of the month placards for every wardrobe foisted upon a man in crisis.
He shook his head and scoffed at a sketch of a model mountaineer glissading in textbook fashion on the crinkled page. "Ain't no way..." he grumbled, then grinned. Yes, he was an idiot for buying all this gear. Yes, he was inexperienced and definitely the runt of the rag tag group of eight climbers. Yes, he didn't think he could summit, but another yes whispered in the back of his cranium: "Yes, I've made it this far."
Michael had been lost in a moment of awe the morning before, staring up at the mountain. His gear was crisp, clean, bright, and new; everyone else in the climbing party looked decidedly worn. They hustled and joked, stashing energy bars and strapping on packs while he mooned at the snowy peak. Despite his greenhorn status they had welcomed him, encouraged him, told him it was a good mountain to start out with. "You can climb her 10 times and enjoy every one but you'll never forget your first," crooned a thin woman with graying temples and fuzzy curls, a perfectly timed wink and nudge of her elbow in his side had elicited appreciative laughter from the rest of the group. They had all climbed this peak multiple times, and then there was Michael.
He was a fit person but not the type of active that actively scrambles up cliff sides or the type that enjoys the feeling of nature invading his personal space. Nature was for inspirational posters and fantasy movie sets. He would happily run half the day away downtown beside the pigeons and homeless camps before frolicking in the snow or mashing unknown biological mush into the tread of his shoes. Lifting weights, not packs, was his type of workout.
Less than a week prior he had suddenly kissed those pigeons and concrete trails goodbye. Finalizing his divorce in a veneered labyrinth thirty six stories above the city did something to him. He stumbled onto the sidewalk and wandered for twenty minutes, finally finding himself at the local outdoor gear retailer saying he wanted to climb a mountain. Four hours and too much money later he was packing his bags and preparing to drive to the hills.
"Oh yeah, just drive out to Beckett and you'll be able to find a guide and climbing crew no prob." They were right and now he was over halfway to a peak he'd only seen from the tops of skyscrapers on a clear day.
Halfway. A shiver slithered under Michael's layers and he laughed in a moment of bewilderment. He was on the side of a mountain and he had walked, climbed, dragged himself there of his own accord. There was a long way to go, no doubt, but as he smiled in satisfaction a hint of joy weaseled into his thoughts. He began wondering at the feelings summiting would bring; joy, relief, wonder, pride, and maybe empowerment? The endorphins and tall tale to tell were one thing, but regaining a sense of control over his life was what he really craved.
Michael felt the warmth of embarrassment rush to his stubbled cheeks at finding himself thousands of feet above sea level on a mountainside in freezing temperatures looking for a sense of control. No books. No internet search engines. No beers with his father at their favorite tavern. He was a rogue agent. "What the hell, seems like I got better shot here than a damned studio apartment." Mashing the manual into his pack he wriggled into his sleeping bag, snapped off the micro LED light attached to a net dangling from the roof of the tent and laid back in the deepest dark he'd ever experienced.
"It's always darkest before the dawn," he whispered into the polyester dome half covering his face before closing his eyes, unsure if the moisture he felt were tears or condensation from the hot breath pressed to his face.
Super hard to get this done today but I'm glad that I did. In other news, the cheesecake was a success AND I remembered to take pictures. I will post that all tomorrow.
Mood: still low, still tired, still trudging.