The Blue Mountain

And so he took her, at a moment's notice, away from the city--her small white car rolling through the dusty hills to the ocean. She, a startled nineteen; he, still learning at forty. It was hard to say who followed who. Together they unfolded each moment like the crumpled map they had forgotten in the bar. The radio died, the car ran out of gas, she swallowed her last birth control pill. They had heard of a place far in the hills, abandoned. That's what they both wanted more than anything--complete abandonment. Walking, climbing up through the primeval forest, carrying only what they needed--her youth and beauty, his words and wisdom, and a can opener. She trusted his knowledge of which mushrooms to eat and where to find them. He trusted her trust. He was used to making sweet delicacies such as Bunderness Torte for the tourists at Cactus Jacks, but now he served up sauteed spam ala frond over an open fire. She soon excelled at collecting firewood and tinder, gingerly snapping birch twigs to test their combustibility. "Green doesn't burn," he said as quietly as the night wind over the mountain. And when she returned from her forays, arms full of branches and scratches, he pulled nettles from his pouch, ground them up in an old pie pan, and rubbed them on her white arms, which, like her ankles and neck soon became permanently dirty, regardless of the frequency of cold spring baths. Their socks were the first casualties; and soon they abandoned all their clothing, arranging it into a little nest in the corner of the cabin opposite the window. They knew nothing of stars except that up here they shined as bright and clear as the air was thin and clean. And despite their tangled hair and mosquito welts, their eyes burned quick and hot as mesquite. He was Apollo, she was Diana. He felt his sense of self grow strong as an oak as he freed her innate wildness, watching her run off into the canopy every morning while he mined the sun and wind for words. She always returned with something, a heart-sized chunk of granite, a grip full of orange poppies, a golden leaf as broad as her hand, and once a dying chickadee which she held as carefully as he held her breasts full of the pulse of the blue mountain. He was the story line and she was the pictures. Her sand drawings, primitive and ephemeral; his black scratchings on synthetic paper, ageless, fodder for his solitary fires when they came down after the first frost into the raucous apartment complex crammed with dishes and radios and other men.

© Eskimo Pie Girl