I commented on my original version of this that it nearly was a horror story, and just might work better as one. I’ve been sitting on the horror version since then. Today, I’m out of town and can’t scan the trees I have done, so for your Friday artistic post, here is the alternate version of Fingers of Stone, Pool of Clouds:
Summertime, and the air was still chilled. Wispy clouds drifted across the sky. She shifted the backpack, moving the strap off of the latest sore spot. Almost there, she thought, and kept her eyes down on the path in front of her. No sense in slipping and breaking something now – the top would be there when she got there.
The fingers of stone reached out of the mountain, reaching futilely for the sky. Between them, the water reflected the deep blue sky, fragments of clouds tissue thin. Still there. Always there.
The path leveled out in front of her, and then spread out across the small flat peak. Now she could look out in every direction, see the swells of land and forest below. The horizon is so much further away up here, she thought. At first, she was fascinated by things far away – the forests, the horizon, the trails of clouds. Slowly, she began to look at closer objects, looking at the path she had come up and then for the one she planned to take back down.
Then, some ways down, she saw the pool, full of blue sky with the bottom stones showing through, calling to her. Her eyes followed a trail back up from the pool to the top. Yes, it was on her path down, and she could stop there to eat and have a drink. It would be chill, but she was warm enough.
She went down carefully. There was no sense in slipping now, either. The pool was not quite as large as it had seemed from the top, but the pillars of stone rose just above her head. She put her pack down near the water’s edge and looked out to the horizon again, before digging out some food and a cup.
She knelt on a large rock at the edge with the cup in her hand, and found herself staring at the sky still reflected in the water. Could you drink the sky? She wondered and reached her flat palm out to touch the water, as if to put her hand on a cloud.
The water seeped around her hand in rivulets, winding themselves like fingers, and held on. She pulled, trying to free her hand from the icy water, but she was already off-balance. The water flowed up her arm as she fell, surrounding her and the cry not a soul could hear.
The fingers of stone reach up from the face of the mountain. Between them, a pool of still water reflects the scattered clouds. Still there. Always there.