Week 7: The Summit (Prompt: A story about a journey)

“Is that it?”

If it was, Alice thought, it wasn’t a very impressive summit for the extravagant promises of this trip.

The guide, white-haired and dark-eyed, glanced up and surveyed the high point across the shallow saddle. “Hmm,” she said thoughtfully. “Not yet, I think.”

She was right. No sooner had they reached the top point, another high point appeared, a pile of rocks poking from the trees. “Is that it?” Alice wanted to know.

The guide glanced only briefly. “Not yet,” she said.

Of course, it wasn’t impressive enough yet, Alice thought. The travel agency had said that it was an indescribable journey. They had gushing testimonies of people to prove it. Despite the fact that many other agencies offered a much cheaper guide for this hike, Alice had been intrigued. She needed something life-changing anyway, and her previous forays had yielded nothing but disappointment.

The next summit was only a few hundred feet beyond the second, but the guide didn’t even look up this time to verify.

“Not yet,” she said.

Neither was the next, or the next after that, the path winding up and down. Every time Alice asked, she got the same response. Hot and tired, she started thinking she’d fallen for false promises yet again.

The next time, she didn’t ask. She just put her head down and walked, one step after another.

Sometime after, as they climbed above treeline, her previously silent guide began to speak, sweeping her hand across the land, describing how it had been formed, where the lay of the land looked like a woman sleeping, how if you looked closely enough, the wind moving through the trees below looked like giants walking.

This high, the wind sang across the rocks. Alice watched for the giants. No, she thought, it looks more like waves.

It was sometime later when they took a break on a pile of rocks. They had been sitting for a few minutes when the guide glanced over.

“We are here,” she said.

It was only then that Alice realized there were no more high points around. She was surprised by it, but didn’t think any more of it as they descended, wondering why this hike had been so talked up.

It took her thirty years to understand that the journey the agency talked about had nothing to do with climbing a mountain.

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