The Way Ahead
by Lynn Capling
As she stops to catch her breath, she looks back. No view yet. The mossy trail back through the trees is obvious, but the way ahead is unclear. The scree slope is wide and the rocks loose. Resuming her hike, each foot slides back a little, but forward progress is made. Her eyes are locked on the rocks ahead, but her mind wanders.
“Will they have missed me yet? Probably. Might think I am sleeping in. Like I could sleep. I should have left a note. No. That was the whole point of leaving early. To be alone. Too many people. Someone would have felt a need to follow. I should have brought more than a half bottle of wine. One of those stupid sandwiches might taste good now.”
Using her hands to help scramble up, she reaches the top of the shale and works her way to the side where there is a flatter spot with a little grass. She eases herself down on her bum before turning to take in the view. Vertigo, although infrequent, is always a possibility. With no hand to catch her now, it is better not to tempt fate in high places.
The view is spectacular. Not quite the way she remembered it. The tiny houses have spread further up the valley. Lights have worked their way up the slopes. But the mountain peaks look the same.
She loves it here. Peaceful. Spiritual. No wonder the Mayans built their cities in the mountains.
She struggles out of the canvas backpack and then removes her shirt. With a quick glance around, she removes her bra exposing damp skin to the cool breeze. Instant goose bumps. Glad to be alone, she breathes deeply and stares out at the view. Wishing she had a crystal glass to mark the occasion, she pulls out the bottle and takes a mouthful, then plants the bottle firmly in a patch of old grainy snow. She stares out into space and breathes. It feels good.
Twisting the gold band off her finger, she plays with it for a while. Her finger has developed quite an indent over the years. Then shifting onto one hip she digs deep into her pocket and pulls out the larger ring. She lets them tinkle together in her palm. It seemed like a such a good idea last night. Such a long night. “Will I regret this? Probably.” She ties the two rings together with the white piece of ribbon she snatched from one of the flower arrangements. She inches over to a bigger rock, one she might remember if she changes her mind, and tucks them deep into a crack.
She smiles and the tears come again. Tracking down her cheeks and dropping from her chin. It was good. All those years together.
Grief and freedom. Only now, here, and alone does she admit it.
Freedom and grief, bound together like two rings tied with a white ribbon.
Lynn Capling expresses her creativity in poetry, stories, paintings, her garden, jewelry, and the silly games she plays with her grandchildren. She is inspired by nature, children, and early mornings. She resides in rural British Columbia and her paintings and poetry have been exhibited in several art galleries.