The Mountain

by Marcus McKenzie

 

David loved the mountain, the lake, even old man Truman, who smelled of the mountain and pipe tobacco. That summer snapshot, taken so many years ago, was colorized by freshly presented parallels. The evergreens were greener than ever, and the snow had begun its annual retreat to its summer station as white watchman over the lake’s cool water. David still loved the mountain, but, as a boy’s first schoolhouse infatuation matures and grows more cautious, so did David’s love for the mountain. On that boat ride, he thought of how he’d only learned to swim two summers before, and he worried Ranger (the best dog ever) might stop barking at the leaping trout fleeing the motorboat’s tumult, and begin chasing them. This spring, he thought of how lonely it was to watch a wild beast waking without Ranger there to bark, and worried that the temperamental star his mountain had become might disappoint the growing crowd of fans gathering for her debut, including himself.

Old man Truman, he’d always said the mountain was harmless to those who loved her, but the years of education had shaken David’s faith. Now he sat atop Coldwater Ridge, and they wrestled, Harry’s faith and the professors’ analytical fact-gathering and deductive reasoning. Breakfast done, David took advantage of the morning quiet to revisit Harry, now gaining fame for his unwillingness to heed scientific warnings about his mountain. Fatalistic old fool, that’s what a couple people had called him, but within David’s earshot, it wasn’t permitted without argument. They hadn’t been welcomed by her, to grow and learn, safe in her shadow for a moment from the growing pains of a changing society.

A little after half past eight, David’s chair began to tremble and he saw the tumorous north flank beginning to move, and he excitedly notified his colleagues, his voice crackling in the distant radio room: “Vancouver, Vancouver, this is it!”. The near instantaneous silence which followed was ominous, but conclusions were forsaken for the moment as unexpected and groundbreaking data poured in from every quarter.

On Coldwater Ridge, David’s time distended and he was returned to the boat, with Ranger barking at the trout and old man Truman skippering the little boat with David’s fatherless family aboard, so the overtaking of his camp by the mountain’s fury was merely a sudden breeze in his face, and the lost-forever burial wasn’t cruel and arbitrary, but the mountain’s kindness, a somber, almost tender reclaiming of another of her adopted children.

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