Tuesday, May 31, 2011

We are afraid of truth, afraid of fortune, afraid of death, and afraid of each other. Our age yields no great and perfect persons. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

You just discovered you have fifteen minutes to live.

1. Set a timer for fifteen minutes.
2. Write the story that has to be written.

There was a girl who, since she was very young, lived on mountains. She climbed their heights and she dove down through their caves and she lived off what they provided for her. The mountains always had more to give than she could take. The mountains were always growing and so was she.

The little girl grew strong and brave and taller and taller until she was not quite so little anymore. Still, the mountains were taller. The mountains were her magic. She thought they would never end. She thought she could go to the end of the world and always be jumping from mountaintop to mountaintop.

And so the girl set out to wander the world, to see all the mountains. She saw very many mountains, all of them beautiful, all of them fierce and strong, like her. She climbed to their tops and slipped down through their caves and laughed at the loveliness of it all. She laughed and heard its echoes dance around her for miles. She sang as she leapt between the mountaintops, singing an endless song until the mountains ended.

The girl balanced on top of the last mountain, one foot on the cold steely tip, one foot stretching out in front of her, into air, twirling about in a cloud as the girl understood that there was nothing there. This was it. There were no more mountains, no more heights, no more caves.

The rest of the world was laid out before her, little hills no more than goose bumps, valleys that spread out like a heart ache, rivers and lakes and roads and trees and somewhere down there, she knew, people.

The world was more than mountains. There were so many things that she could not yet name, things that would hurt and steal, things the mountains had never whispered of. For the first time in her young life the girl felt weak and small and afraid. The leg she was standing on began to shake beneath her. She needed to make a choice; the mountains or everything else. She breathed deep the chill mountain air and put her foot down. Then she took a step.

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