Tuesday 2 February 2010

As quiet as a shiver

For the first exercise in my creative writing class we were asked to write something "inspired by" the similies we had generated in class.

He was glad to finally be alone.  Four hours of walking had carried him up and away from the bustle of the cars and villages; the nagging intrusions of billboards and shopfronts had given way to a calming view of forest, lake and rock.

His walking poles clacked a rhythmic accompaniment to his strides over scree and boulder at the base of a limestone cliff.  He'd been contouring below this vertical rockface for ten minutes, searching without success for a break or ramp to allow him access to the higher reaches of the mountain.

A hundred metres away a bare patch of turf abutting the rockface hinted at a path that ended at the cliff itself, but as he reached the small plateau of dusty earth it became clearer the path continued into a huge crack cleaving the cliff.  Jagged fists of stone faced each other across a vertical cleft no wider than his rucksack.  

At the top of the cliff the rock on each side of the fissure looked sharp and fresh as if split just today by some ferocious force, but at the base each gnarl and crag was smooth, rounded and covered with the grease of a thousand passing hands.  

He eased through sideways, pack held awkwardly ahead of him but still bouncing off the rock as he shuffled through.  After twenty feet the split widened somewhere above his head, collecting and filtering more sunlight down to him.  A few more feet and he was able to stop shuffling, turn square to his movement and stride forward easily again.  And then the previously impassable cliff was breached and he found himself on a ledge above a crater, ringed by vertical walls flawless save for the crack he had just passed through.

Above him the sky was a cool blue and bright sunlight bleached a crescent of limestone on half the walls of the crater, but where he stood the sun couldn't reach.  It was cold here, quiet too, and he shivered involuntarily.

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