Being inspired, maybe – 41

A picture paints ... well, as many words as you like.  For instance:

And, then, the words:

"We're going to die up here, aren't we?"
My traveling companion was, to a certain extent, a fatalist, and had been reluctant to come with me, but persuasion was one of my strong points.
That, of course, was not the driving factor for this excursion in the wild.
My friend had been languishing in a pit of self-pity and despondency, one I thought she would never get out of.  She's had a run of back luck if you could call it that, and one disaster piled up upon another.
As a distraction, and a means to get her out of her apartment where I could see the walls gradually closing in on her, I thought a hike across a mountain would be just the ticket.
When we left, the weather forecast had been for fine weather for the three days it would take.
But, as all deeds that have good intentions seem to go, the weather turned bad, the snow began, and after a day, it didn't look like it was going away.
Of course, I had been prepared for that, with rations for a week, and a means of keeping warm.
All we could do was wait it out.
"How did I let you persuade me to come on this expedition?"
Should I be blunt?  We'd been friends for a long time, and I felt it gave me some license to tell her the truth, rather than commiserate with her, as all her other friends did.
"You needed a change."
"Freezing to death in some National Park doesn't quite fit the bill for a change, does it?"
"What would you be doing if you were not here?"
"Tucked up nice and warm in my own bed."
"And wallowing in a sea of self-pity."
She glared at me, and I could see wisps of anger in her eyes.
"I do not wallow."
"Some days you don't even get out of bed.  I'll be honest Jane, I'm worried about you, and your state of mind.  I don't know what it's like to be kicked so many times when you're down, but this isn't you, at least not the Jane I know."
"Perhaps you don't know me as well as you think you do."
Maybe I didn't.  I took a moment to look at her, and suddenly realize she was not the girl I once knew and had such intense feelings for.  It made me think about what I'd done all these years, waiting in the wings for her feelings to change towards me, and year after year failing to realize they never would.
This outing had been a mistake.  A huge mistake.
If I had to admit one truth, she was right.  I had absolutely no idea who she was, not now.
But I had to ask, "Why did you agree to come with me then?"
She gave me the look that I had just given her, the one that tried to glean what I might be thinking or get a peek into my soul.
"Because you were the only one of my friends who chooses not to tell me what they think I want to hear.  And I thought traipsing over a mountain in the middle of winter might just break the cycle of misery I seem to be stuck in.  Yes, I'll acknowledge I might be indulging in a little self-pity, yes, I should be trying to get on with my life, but for the first time in my life I don't know what to do."
"I'm sure any of your friends would help if you asked them."
"I thought so too, but it seems everyone has moved on except me.  I don't think I noticed until John dumped me that life had passed me by."
"I'm sure it's not as bad as that."
"No job, no boyfriend and having to move back in with my mother, what have I got to go back to.  If I survive this trek that is."
Put like that, it sounded very bleak.
"Perhaps in the morning, it will be better."
"Maybe.  But now I think about it, there was another reason I came on this adventure with you, and it surprised me that it took this long to realize it.  It's probably why my life is such a mess.  I want to be more than just friends, but in saying that," she added quickly, "I would like you to think about it, after all..."
I kissed her.  A brief touching of the lips, and meant to silence her fears, and give me a moment to get my emotions under control.
She turned around and snuggled closer, pulling one of my hands around her.
I could just hear her say, "Thank you." very softly, and let a wave of contentment wash over me.

© Charles Heath 2019


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