Snow In Summer
The Word: Snow
The crags glistened in the afternoon light, eight pm–in these northern latitudes it was barely tinted in pink. Snow deep, the glacier fields under the silent passage of a sunset balloon, the retired sipping champagne and waiting for the show. Beneath them, elk with their white rumps emerged from the stands of aspen into the bright green velveteen baize of the ranch. The wind ruffled their snowy heads. Patricia touched Will’s fringe of hair that needed a cut, under his cap. All those snowy heads.
The glaciers gleamed on this, the longest day of the year. After the fiery liftoff, an uncanny silence. She could see an elk buck, in the trees, his antlers still swathed in velvet, the others, does, and a calf trailing the mother in the open. How silent. Like a dream. Like the afterlife, perhaps, all visuals, insubstantial. No sound. A balloon pilot instead of Charon, and these peaks, and Elysium behind the mountains.
How this all must look to the mountains. These jagged monsters. Still pointy, unregenerate. Unworn. Still angry at the striation of the glaciers which had ground their flanks. They looked like fangs. And yet she had seen the climbers that morning in the hotel, readying for their climb. They would work their way up these furious peaks, would cling to the granite, would chop their way up those shining glaciers. Then fly down their yellow ropes, back to safety, a hot tub, a glass of bourbon, a joint, a laughter, a lover’s embrace. They had tempted death and been spared.
The laughter after the brief encounter with death–the willed encounter.
The savor, the tingle in the teeth and in the groin. But the encounter that they faced, she and Will and the rest of the snowy heads in this champagne basket, was certain. There would be no glass of bourbon, no joint, no laughter awaiting them afterwards, no soak in the hot tub. Death did not have to be sought in the teeth of mountains. It was all around, silent as this balloon, and waiting for all of them at the end of the trip.
Glen, the balloon pilot, filled their flutes, telling a story about champagne and ballooning, but Patricia could not take her eyes off the mountains. Soon, her balloon would run up onto those teeth, or Will’s. A bad wind, and the fragile silk would tear, and all the heat and life would run out.
They had to take the hot tub, the bourbon, the joint, the laughter, first. The buck’s new velvet antlers, the silent rise, the gathering blush of evening–courage now was life and not death. Tempting life.
Part of a weekly series of short short stories based on a writing exercise, The Word. “Inspired by a simple word, chosen at random, write a two-page double-spaced story, using the Word at least once.”
Next week’s word is: WASH