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The Mountain and The Girl

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Once upon a time there was a mountain. It stood strong and tall. Taller than any forest. Taller even than the clouds. It reached for the sky, straining to scrape it. At the bottom of the mountain, nestled in the roots and growing in the shadow was a village. They were a strong people that lived in it, raised alongside the mountain, as tough as the rock they lived with. They worked hard and never looked up. That land, the rocks at the base of the mountain was their world and they never thought of anything beyond it.
One day a bird landed on the shoulder of a girl. She paused in her work and turned her face to it. The bird tilted his head and fluttered across to a rock. After watching the girl for a moment she looked around herself at the rough land her village lived on and saw it was all in shadow. She raised her face and saw the tall mountain. It towered above her and she lost her breath at the sight of something so great and strong. Yet even the mountain, what she imaged was the very embodiment of power, something that could want for nothing in its solid being reached for the sky. The girl craned her neck, searching for it, but could only see a sliver for being too close to the mountain. For the first time she wondered what was beyond her village, beyond the work she did every day. Surely to see the sky, to see the edges that hid behind the mountain, and touch it as the mountain strained to, would be too wonderful to imagine.
With a soft twitter the bird that had landed on the girl’s shoulder fluttered to the next rock as if he would lead the way. So the girl left her chores and told her mother of her idea. Her mother shook her head and laughed and told her daughter that there was nothing more to the mountain or to the sky than what could be seen from right there. The girl could not convince her mother, could not even explain to her, the heavy beating her heart did when she thought of what was beyond the village, what the mountain reached for.
The bird followed scratched at the window all night. Scratch, scratch, scratch, asking the girl to come out, to follow him. It kept her up all night and she tossed and turned, struggling between following her mother and following the bird. By morning she still didn’t know, but when she went outside and saw the mountain, still reaching, still yearning for the sky, she looked to the bird.
With the first rays of light, before anyone had even properly opened an eye, she began to climb. At first the girl raced the light and moved easily through the rocky slopes, scrambling over and around boulders, boosting herself up ledges. The bird was always ahead of her, hopping from rock to rock, from ledge to ledge, leading the way. By afternoon she had tired and the way was steeper and the light was far ahead of her. Still the bird led the way so still she climbed, determined to reach farther than the mountain, to see everything that was around her, to touch the sky. All day she climbed and in her eagerness she climbed all night as well. Only the sounds of the bird, only its scratching showed her the way up the dark mountain. When morning came the girl still climbed. The girl did not acknowledge her tiredness. She only had a mind for the yearning inside her that grew and grew. Surely there was something up there, something beautiful, something that even this strong mountain reached for. Another night she climbed.
The bird led her and she climbed for a long time. For a long time she thought of nothing beside reaching the sky. Finally the day came when the light greeted her at the top of the mountain. She reached it just as dawn came and stood there, staring all around her. She was so high that all she could see were the clouds beneath her and the sky above her. Her breath whispered from her at the sight of it. Sky expanding in all directions, larger than anything she had ever imagined. All that sky, going on and on forever. It was everything. It was greater than the mountain she had climbed. It was greater than its shadow and the village in it that she had thought was the world. How wrong she had been to think that the village was all there was, to think that the mountain was strong. The sky was the world, was everything. There was nothing by sky. The bird landed on her shoulder for just a second and then moved his wings, disappearing among the clouds.
The girl reached up, straining every part of her to touch it. She felt like the mountain, felt that if only she could touch the sky everything would be right. With every ounce of her being she willed herself taller, willed herself closer to the sky. The girl tried for many days, not lowering her arm, not relaxing her toes, not coming down from the tallest peak. She reached and reached, yearning to brush the sky just once. The mountain strained to, trying to lift her, trying to lift itself. The longer the girl tried the more like the mountain she became and slowly she changed so that there was no difference. Her toes turned to stone and the mountain worked itself up her, taking her, reaching with her, yearning to go higher. As she turned to stone the girl reached even higher and, just as her fingers hardened she thought she brushed it.



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LinkinPark12This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Dec. 20, 2012 at 12:30 pm:
This is beautifully written. I love the ending! Just describe the town, what life was like, the people, maybe make the fear the mountain, as it's not very realistic that they would never look up/notice the mountain. However, I love this! :D
 
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