It's the final WEP for 2019. It's been a great year and we've seen some great writing. Hoping there's some time in your hectic holiday or work schedule to do the rounds and read some pleasurable writing. Thanks to the team - Nilanjana Bose, Olga Godim and L.G. Keltner who've helped provide strength and purpose.
Here's my fun contribution to the December challenge.
On Top of the Mountain
On top of the mountain was where Ciara longed to be—leaving behind all her insecurities, her unhappiness, her confusion over the breakup with Tod. That was why in her backpack she’d tucked her special passport to tackle the road from France to Spain. The Camino de Santiago. She was following in the footprints of 2.5 million pilgrims who every year attempted to walk the 800 kilometre (497 miles). Each morning, she flew out of bed like a bird. Then for hours on end - trudge, trudge, trudge.
Whoever thought there’d be so many mountains, hills and valleys, especially at the beginning of the walk when most people were flabbily unfit? Her group all prodded their walking poles into the muddy ground, following the footprints of those in the lead. They took every opportunity to leave a token on every statue and shrine they passed, carefully placed rocks they’d brought from home and dropped them at the feet of saints like they were dropping their burdens. Of course they had to snap photograph after photograph on their smart phones, before whining and flopping beside the road, fanning themselves, pouring bottled water over their faces, until the guide finally called them out.
‘If you keep lagging, we’ll be camping beside the road in the rain instead of enjoying a drink, a nice hot bath and a comfy bed at the inn.’
That did the trick. Even Ciara smartened up her act.
The climb up this latest mountain had been hard in the drizzle, but Ciara had to admit, the view, or what she could see of it between the clouds, was Paradise.
She twirled round and round like the ballerina she was, fantasizing she was lead ballerina in Swan Lake, which she wasn't, then fell into a dizzy heap, like she was the frumpy ugly duckling everyone shunned.
‘Woops!’ She giggled, brushing off twigs and leaves, lying on her back, bathed in grey-blue sky. ‘Look on the bright side, girl!’
She was first.
She never got to be first.
She wasn’t even first with Tod. He’d chosen her because she looked like his first girlfriend. Ugh. That sure made her feel like the ugly duckling.
But today, despite Tod, was an important milestone in her life.
Her confusion was lifting like clouds on the mountain. Yes! She thumped the ground with her two fists. She came on this journey of self-discovery and she was self-discovering. Awesome. At thirty-four that wasn’t bad. Feeling smug, she sat up and leaned against the one and only scrappy tree and guzzled from her water bottle.
Now that her fitness had improved, she’d hurried ahead even though it was not the done thing. Truthfully, she was sick of the groups’ collective whining. Sure, the climb today had tested their fitness, but what did they expect? They were crossing the Pyrenees. All the way from St Jean Pied de Port in France to this splendid mountain range in Spain and then some. What a pilgrimage. What a way to start over. And it’d all be over in a month.
It was Roderick who riled her. There was always one. A pain from the beginning, whining about everything—the food, the weather, the lack of bottled water. He even complained when at one of the villages a kindly wine merchant provided red wine through one of the water taps, his contribution to the pilgrim walk. It’d helped them feel no pain through the rest of the day.
Still umpteen kilometres to go til they reached Santiago de Compostela. Could she put up with him that long?
She was surprised their guide, Rafe, hadn’t sent him packing. Ah Rafe. She pictured his built body, muscled by years of climbing, and his piercing blue eyes, always focused on the beautiful landscape, never on her even though she did her best to attract him with her tight tops and lycra pants. She and Andrea, the other Brit, tried to outdo each other, rising earlier than everyone to hog the bathroom to apply their makeup. But Rafe was immune. She felt like stabbing him with her eyeliner when she caught him looking lovesick every time he glanced at Matthew, the royal marine from the U.S. Hot damn.
She dropped her water bottle beside the dozens of others abandoned by naughty walkers who’d never heard of climate change or that bottling water released 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually and took 17 million barrels of oil to produce a year’s supply. She sighed and looked into the haloes of whispy clouds and thought about how she was saving the planet by walking 800 kilometres instead of driving a car.
She breathed in slowly, savouring the moment. Ah, first at last! Would Rafe be impressed? Even though she wasn’t a whiner, she was a lagger, and he was forever turning back to make sure she was still trudging onward. The look in his eyes accused her of lagging on purpose. She wouldn’t do that, would she?
Sniggering, she lost herself in murderous thoughts of Tod, but she wasn’t so lost she missed the grunting behind the scraggly bush where she’d propped herself.
She carefully moved leaves aside and peered closer, afraid it was some weird Spanish animal of the four-footed species. Why think the worst? She was drawn to valleys made dark by black shadows. Why did she always see the dark side? ‘What the—?’ She suspended her deep psychological musings. Lying spreadeagled, a head wound gushing blood, was that whiner, Roderick.
‘Hey, Ciara what have you found?’ Rafe had arrived, the group behind him, a motley crew gasping, whining, mopping foreheads with kerchiefs.
She shook her head.
Life was a sick joke.
She never got to be first.
But look on the bright side, she thought. Roderick could have been some dangerous animal.
MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!
WORD COUNT: 974
NCCO - Comments only. This was written specifically for WEP just for fun. Enjoy!
Please click on names at the end of my post and read more stories and encourage our faithful writers who turned up for the Christmas challenge!
Look what we have in store for 2020. Those of you who are lurking behind the scenes I hope you can find a challenge that floats your boat!
The next WEP challenge will be in February. I hope you'll join us for:
Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!