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Mountain Climber

by Rook


I heard the mutters from the tranquil front room, “That’s his van,” and “he’s here!” A moment later, a knocking echoed through the apartment. I started toward the door, but someone said, “Oh no Sam, I’ll get it for you.”

I gratefully plopped down on my favorite arm chair, waiting for the hurricane that would surely come with the arrival of Buck Winshire and his crazy stories. I rolled my eyes as he stepped into the room booming, “Ho, ho, ho! Happy New Year’s!”

I waited as he got acquainted with any friends of mine who hadn’t had the displeasure of his acquaintance. But I knew Buck had come for me.

A rough kiss on my cheek was the first sign that he was done irritating my friends, and was ready to get down to what he had really come for.

“The answer is still no, Buck,” I sighed.

“C’mon Sam! You and I are getting to that age where life ties us down and won’t let us go. Don’t you want to have an adventure?”

“Buck, I don’t think I physically can go on an adventure.”

“But just think! You could be like that guy who climbed Mount Everest and was blind!”

“Yeah, and he didn’t get to see the view,” I spat.

“Oh you know he felt it. He has the most wonderful grin on his face in the photographs.”

“I’m perfectly happy here.”

“Here? In this gray, nothing-home? With a dog and some dust? Can you honestly tell me that this is what you want to do with your life?”

“I’m still trying to figure that out, Buck! Not everyone knows what they want from life!”

“That’s why I want you to explore the world with me. You can discover yourself along the way, maybe—just maybe!—you’ll find a love for exploring!” His voice quivered with excitement.

“No. I can’t. It’s not going to happen.”

I could tell Buck was unhappy from his silence.

“I just don’t think I can,” I said quietly.

Buck sighed, but said in a cheerful tone, “I get it. I have to leave on another trip that I might not be coming back from for a while. I might miss your next new year’s party, but that’s okay! I know you know my best stories by heart,” he nudged me playfully, “I’m sure you’ll do them justice.”

“Of course I will! What kind of new year’s party would it be without Bucky here to liven things up?”

“That’s the spirit! I knew I could count on you. Now if you’ll excuse my abrupt leave, I have a train to catch. But wait! One more thing before I go.” I heard a rustling, and soon a package was placed on my lap. “Don’t open it here! Someone might see! Wait until everyone’s gone home.”

I gave him a half-grin and stood up to shake his hand, but instead Buck pulled me into a rough hug.

He murmured something against my shoulder, and barely a second later, he was gone.

After the clock struck midnight, the guests started filtering out until it was just me. I went to sit down in my chair again, and realized I had forgotten about the gift Buck had given me.

Gift unwrapping is a more suspenseful and exciting event for the blind. It took me until I had all the paper off to realize what the present was. It was a book. A book. Not a braille one, one of paper and ink. The cover was deeply embossed at the top and took me only a moment to decipher the indents in the cover as “photos.” Not only did Buck get me a book as a gift, he got me a picture book. No one can really describe photos the way they are truly meant to be seen. I wondered bitterly if he bought his mute friends voice recognition software, or his deaf friends Mozart CDs. I crammed his book into a cluttered drawer.

Buck is going to hear about this the next time he shows his sorry head in this place. I didn’t doubt that Buck would be back: Buck always came back.

I received a postcard from him a few weeks later with a note on the back that simply read:

Hello Sam-love,

Having wonderful adventures.

I swear the sun shines brighter

the farther you get away from home.

And I’m pretty far.

-Bucky

Several years later, I had found a new job in a different part of the country. As a friend helped me pack up, she came across a curious book. “Who’s this guy?” she asked.

“What guy?”

“There’s a book here, with pictures of a guy in lots of places, like at the top of a mountain, or in a forest, or a desert. And…” she gasped, “who is this guy?”

“What? What is it? Let me hold the book.” She passed the book into my hands, and I felt the cover. It took a moment for me to register that this was the book Buck had given me so many years ago. But I remembered it somehow. It occurred to me that I never got to yell at Buck for getting me such a dumb present, but then that I hadn’t seen him in years. I suddenly became very sad. “It’s an old friend,” I told her.

“Do you know what he has in all these photos?”

“A stupid grin?”

“No Sam! In every single photo, in all these different places, he’s holding up a picture of you!”

“W-what?”

After a few minutes of nothing but me clutching the book to my chest, my friend excused herself to raid a little lunch from my kitchen. I ran my hands over each page, smooth, until the last one. The texture of the paper felt different, and the paper was thicker. Then, at the bottom of the page, in braille, was a little message that read:

“You climbed these mountains.”


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401 Reviews

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Sun Feb 23, 2014 12:27 am
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ThereseCricket wrote a review...



Hey Fortis!
I never read one of your works before and I don't think I was disappointed AT ALL!
But your work a reviewer's nightmare! How on earth am I supposed to help you if there's hardly anything to critique! Well I'm going to try, but I'm a little lost here.

“Oh------- so there should be a comma right after Oh-- you know he felt it. He has the most wonderful grin on his face in the photographs


One thing I did notice is that you have very short paragraphs.

He murmured something against my shoulder, and barely a second later, he was gone.


Like this one. Its one sentence and a paragraph is supposed to be at least 4 or 5. Not all the time I grant you, but most of the time is is the case. So I think you could work on that a little. Although you do a really good job on breaking up your paragraphs. I'm really bad at that.

But I have to say this is just so sad! If I were more emotional I think I would break out crying!

“You climbed these mountains.”


This sentence was so beautiful! It had so much meaning to it. That what I think I really loved about it! The meaning and well, its just a awesome way to end the story!


So anyway I hoped I helped! This was amazing!




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166 Reviews

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Sun Feb 23, 2014 12:20 am
Cheetah wrote a review...



Hello, Cheetah here to review your piece on behalf of the Majestic Icicles!

Okay, let me first say this has been in the back of the Green Room way too long. This is a very good story, with a nice twist at the end. I love your dialogue and how the characters have distinct personalities. All in all, this was a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Buck is going to hear about this the next time he shows his sorry head in this place. I didn’t doubt that Buck would be back: Buck always came back.

I think it would flow better if the 'be' was changed to 'come' so the two sentences would have a kind of rhythm. Personal preference, though.

“You climbed these mountains.”

This is such a beautiful ending. :)

There were so many good parts to this story! Thank you for sharing and keep writing!




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Fri Jan 31, 2014 11:38 pm
SheaKay wrote a review...



Dawwwwww. <3 Okay, this was adorable. It was bitter-sweet, which was perfect for the scenario. The dialog was great. It was playful, it was sweet, it had impact--it was the perfect best friend/romantic implication story. "You climbed these mountains". That was adorable. Even when Buck had long gone, and time had since passed, Sam still kept the book. And in the end, she still saw light, through the eyes of her heart. I absolutely adored it, oh my goodness. Keep up the excellent work. ^_^





Stupid risks make life worth living.
— Homer Simpson