This is the problem with fiction - you have to pull back. You can't tell the whole truth.
Not because you'll step on toes. Worse.
It's because no one cares. You will open old cupboards, excavate bones and mouldering bits, you'll recount your blushes and violences do(more)wn to the glistening hair, the rotted tooth of fact. You'll be fishing hair clots and receipts out of the garbage can (if you are being completely honest and brave, if you let yourself go, let that third eye blast off).
Yet your old ghosts won't amount to much more than a bad stink, a rusty moan - already getting dimmer in the din.
So much is going on in life. Everyone's head is jumbled with their own here, now, why. To cut through you can't speak so much of yourself, you have to be decorous and find a way to talk about them. Writers are just more pitchmen. We use words like 'truth' and 'humanity' but we mean something baser.
We just mean: me-me-me.
And if you can say 'me too' - well, God bless you and keep you. Let's remember each others' name. (less)
"Here at the peak of existence we look down upon it all with a sneer at all those that live beneath us. These snowy cliffs, these towering heights that threaten to suffocate us in their majesty are little more than towers to our own sins. Watch them putter about(more) below, ants to us, worthless specks of dirt that scuttle to and fro doing what they can to survive our glorious reign. Damn them all. Damn them to the hells and back. I would stand upon a mountain of their corpses and yet sneer down upon them in my derision. Let them fear me as they fear a god, for my retribution will be worthy of their claims."
As he rambled through his madness on that ashen hillside I found myself pitying him. I had watched him kill. I had followed him away from the city with the hope of salvation from the madness of Quinn's cavernous prison, yet I did not feel the comfort that I ought to. Instead, I remembered Quinn's verse he had written so calmly into his series of journals:
And lo, he crowned himself King Nothing
O'er his land he towered
Yet felt as hollow as the souls he had crushed
But what was I? I his unwitting follower in this journey for the ages, this descent into madness I could feel clawing at the back of my neck like some foul serpent of the deep.
Lo he crowned himself King Nothing. Speak the words and be damned, all ye who dare look up to us. And as we sat upon that ashen hillside where even the trees lay to waste, I felt the old days slipping away from me.
Speak the words and be damned, we Kings of sorrow. (less)
Martin was running. His breath came in rasps and his legs burned. He could not believe that people were actually managing to hold civilised conversations whilst keeping up the pace. He was in a cluster near the back, not at the very back, but near enough to it. His heart pounded (more)in his ears as his legs pounded the pavement. It was to lose a few pounds that he had joined the running group. His wife had been passing not so subtle comments for the last while about his slowly expanding waistline. It wasn't his fault really, it was a factor of the new job and all the traveling, all the lunches grabbed in petrol station delis and the creamy coffees consumed to keep him alert behind the wheel. Eventually he had resolved to take some action, his trousers were beginning to be a bit too tight and he also wanted to get his wife off his back. She had even started to deprive him of dessert and had stopped asking him if he wanted seconds! Martin knew himself that he had to take himself in hand, but starting was always the struggle with him. As he huffed and puffed up the last hill on the route he cast his mind back to when he was in college and at the peak of his physical fitness. He was in the athletics club there and could do a 6 mile run without it knocking a puff out of him. Often they would head straight for pints after the run and do it all again the following morning. The very idea sent a shudder down his already traumatised body. Tomorrow would not be fun, he thought, it would hurt to walk. No pain, no gain, Marty-boy, he thought to himself.(less)
At the peak we turn around and stare down into the white valley. At the top of the world, nothing looks real. You don't feel like you've conquered a mountain, instead you glimpse into an alien world. The mountain groans as snow shifts and wind howls, like an old(more) man who has particular distaste for visitors.
You feel uncomfortable in your body and are painfully aware that you don't belong here. Your breathing is heavy. The air is too thin, a kind way of saying that anything that needs oxygen to survive will have trouble at these heights. Even the birds aren't foolish enough to fly this high. Your limbs are numb from the cold, and you haven't slept properly for close to a week.
Here at the top of the world, the highest altitude on the planet, the smallest weakness can lead to death. Never had a heart problem before? The mountain will test that. Think you packed enough provisions? The mountain will test that too. Being physically prepared isn't just a recommendation, it's necessary for survival.
After a thirty minute rest, it's back down again. Don't worry, old man mountain, we won't be long. Let us admire your beauty before we return to our world, the world we tend to take for granted.(less)
At the peak we saw the world for what it really was. We stood as tall as gods and allowed the sun to bake our bodies. All of our problems disappeared, and even though it was only for a second, we remembered what it was like to be happy(more) again.
We had no idea why dad had taken us on this hiking trip, nor did we care. It had been three years since he had left mom, and ever since then all he had been doing was trying to buy my brother's and my love. My brother loved it, but I saw through the thick clouds of bullshit he tried to subtly wrap around our eyes, blinding us from the truth.
He looked back at me and smiled. "You okay Sean?" I smiled back and nodded, making an effort to catch up to him and my brother. "Sean, hurry up!" My little brother skipped around my father with a gleeful smile on his face. He had always been the athletic one.
After what seemed like hours we stopped. "We are here guys!" My dad took a deep breath and spread his arms wide. Something seemed different about him. He was surrounded by an air of genuineness. "Sean, this is the peak where I came when my parents got divorced. I am sorry you are going through this, but the peak is a place you can come to and forget about me, and be happy."
At the peak we saw the world for what it really was. We stood as tall as gods and allowed the sun to bake our bodies. All of our problems disappeared, and even though it was only for a second, we remembered what it was like to be happy again.
At the peak, for a brief moment, your vision is clear. Your perspective is wide. The air is crisp. Stretching out before you is a vast terrain, a world of possibilities in which all things are within your grasp, all things are attainable. You are convinced that you can(more) see everything, go anywhere, do anything. An intoxicating air of confidence exudes from your very being. Ecstasy.
Then, reality sets in. The ecstasy fades. You begin to make your descent. The air is heavier. Your perspective is narrowed by thick vegetation, a creeping darkness that grows thicker as you descend further. Hopes, dreams, and visions that were clear and joyous just moments ago seem utterly ridiculous to you now. You laugh at your foolishness.
"How could you have indulged such folly? You actually believed the things you saw up there?"
You curse yourself.
"What a fool, a complete and utter fool."
You tell yourself to be realistic.
"Everything you experienced on the peak was simply a delusion. That much should be obvious to any logically thinking person."
After sufficiently berating yourself for such fantastical thinking, you find yourself watching your feet as they carry you down the path. The ecstasy is thoroughly purged at this point. Furthermore, you are sure that there was no ecstasy, nothing beyond what you are experiencing right now. In fact, you are sure that there was no peak at all. Pleased with your rationality, you inwardly congratulate yourself. You watch your feet trod along the path, and, with a smile, you continue your descent.(less)