Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Reaching the Top

I've thought about posting some of my creative writing here, if that's okay.  So, here goes:

He's the kind of person who smiles when you talk about mountains, a painfully nostalgic smile that lets you know he's in the Smokies with you, helping each other up, climbing until only Carolina myrtle and rhododendron grow on the rocky cliffs.  He smiles when he's sad, he drinks tea, he is climbing in his head all the time.  I once watched him climbing, and he held his hands ready like a gymnast - the way a gymnast chalks her hands before climbing onto the uneven bars, the way a ballet dancer crushes her toes in resin before running onto the stage - he flexed his hands before finding a place to grab on and swung himself upward.  And after he clenched and unclenched his hands, after he pulled himself up the rock face, feet lightly touching the cliff where his hands were, bouncing upwards, he stopped being a performer.  When he was higher, when it was hand-over-hand, pulling himself closer to the sky, he stopped noticing that this was Sunday and that anything else was here.  When he was higher all he could see were the rocks above him and the sky; he was holding on like the Carolina myrtle, all alone.

"Do you want to come up?"  Sincere, confident, he extends his hand and you, self-conscious in your beginner status, flex your hands like he did - now you are crushing the resin into sand beneath your toe, now you are running onto stage to leap as never before - and find a place to start, your feet dancing awkwardly across the granite and lichen.  Smiling - not a sad smile anymore, a joyous this-is-what-I-want smile, he leans down and offers you his hand and you grab on.

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