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Fiction, Short Fiction
by: Karen Jones
Each day the River would pass the Mountain on her journey to the Sea. She would talk to him a little, passing the time of day, and the Mountain would smile occasionally as he listened to her chattering of the people and places she encountered on her journey.
The River loved these times, she would let her waves ripple gently over his reflection in her cool, clear water, but sometimes, as she did this, she would feel the Mountain's sorrow. He would often sit, his peak swathed in a mist of grey rain clouds, his craggy features creviced with worry.
She would send a whisper to her friend, Wind, to come and sweep the grey clouds away, and allow the sun to bathe his barren slopes with her golden light.
One day, as she passed by, Mountain leaned down, and seeing his reflection in River's surface, a thundercloud appeared over his peak, and snow slipped from his glacier flowing down his flank like tears of ice.
"What is wrong, my Mountain?" asked River.
"I am ugly," he replied quietly.
"You are not ugly," replied River, "Each day as I pass by I wonder at your strength, wisdom and splendid solitude. Your beauty is a monument that draws People with its majesty."
"I have no worth," said the Mountain.
The Mountain turned away from her slowly, and sat brooding, his peak shrouded in the mist of discontented consciousness.
The River went on her way, slowly to the Sea.
River spoke to the Sea for a while, telling her of her concern for Mountain and how she wished she could help, for she loved him so.
One night River slipped by Mountain quietly. He looked so magnificent as Moonlight rested on his proud shoulders, and River meandered slowly near his back, eager to give him some solace in his loneliness, hoping the soft lull of her current would soothe him.
The next day River chattered to Mountain as usual, she spoke of the Men climbers who came to stand on Mountains peaks to find Nature's peace and to gaze at the heavens, to feel his rough, eternal rock beneath their mortal hands and feet.
"They come just to dwell in the pride of defeating me," said Mountain.
Each day River eased closer, lapping gently at Mountains foothills until she felt her gentle erosion taking effect.
"Men come not to defeat you, Mountain," said River. "Man has tried for aeons to conquer his own greed, fear and hate. To climb your daunting peaks and survive the danger of your yawning chasms they have to lose their fear. By venturing to your heights they can, at last, become conscious of themselves and learn the gift of humility and dignity. Only then can they acknowledge your serenity. That is what they take back with them. That is your worth."
The Mountain shrugged off Rivers words, sending a shower of glacial boulders thundering down his flanks to her riverbanks.
Day after day River came back, lapping slowly but surely at his granite foothills until her efforts of erosion began to form small caves.
"Mortals are lucky," said Mountain , "They know one day they will have the peace of Death, but I don't understand why they risk losing the gift of their life early by climbing me."
"I don't think the Climbers seek Death here," said River, thoughtfully, "A man who wishes to stand at your summit seeks to extend himself beyond his mortal limitations. To see a nobler horizon. He knows the own worth of his life and therefore is in love with living."
The Mountain brooded upon River's words, and if perhaps there was something in what she said. That he did serve a purpose, and for a moment he allowed himself to believe it, and his shadow cast a less sullen penumbra.
The Men came and climbed and conquered. He realised it was not himself, but their own spirits they had come to challenge.
He felt the warmth of River's flow ease its way over years into his mountain core, and slowly her moisture seeped through to his barren flanks.
One morning as Mountain watched Sun slip her forehead over the horizon, he saw a flower yield up from his once infertile soil, to meet the new light of day.
The feeling that Mountain had when he saw this was like the heat of the midday Sun, like a chorus of dawn bird song, it disconcerted him.
When River came, he was silent for a while, stumbling to find the words to ask her about this feeling.
As her waters flowed freely through the caverns and tunnels they had patiently eroded through his bedrock, she felt his consternation.
"What is it, my Mountain?" she asked?
He tried to explain about the flower, which by now had spread seed, which carpeted his soil with a glorious tapestry.
River smiled, lapping her side has her chuckles sent waves along her length.
"Why Mountain, I do believe what you are feeling is Joy."