ASCENT ON LOVE
In days past, I used to look at the bleak sky, and it would capture my emotions perfectly. The sky had a dark, tenebrous aspect to it. Meanwhile, I was a suicidal young girl, strong-mouthed, sensitive and weak. Cloaked in black from head to toe, I was known back in my school days as the "Goth Girl" and all kinds of people would torture me. They'd throw garbage at me, trip me over and throw dodge balls at me. One time, I remember this one, unrelenting student pushed me over in some burst of unanticipated, momentary anger. I fell down, and hit a pole, cracking open my skull. I started to bleed out. A couple of students came to my rescue, one bravely cupping his hands over my wound, taking off his shirt to absorb the red blood, and an ambulance was called. That day changed my life forever, and dramatically shaped my life's path from where I was headed.
Hello, my name is Lorin Otis Freeman, and I am an author. Ever since that fateful day many years ago, I had given up school, and started to learn by myself, now becoming aware of what I was capable of. I started writing small letters to thank the people from the school for their help, and it grew into a passion, a loveable hobby that grew into a job, as my life moved on. I sit in an old, familiar Coffee Shop at the bottom of Clingmans Dome. I could smell the nutty, stale coffee smell that is all too familiar to me now. I slowly drink my hot cup of coffee, while surveying the crop of passengers, transfixed by the colossal mountain standing before their eyes. As the bus drives away, down U.S Highway 441 the passengers make their way to the Coffee Shop. I guess these must be the tourists coming for a hike up Clingmans Dome today. Every Monday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, my good friend Hamilton Braxton Parris conducts tours starting from the Coffee Shop, all the way up to the peak.
Despite the fact I have friends, I still feel lonely. To be honest, right now, I feel distressed and vulnerable. I've tried to compensate for this by buying nice furniture, and donating to charities, but my life feels empty, and I just can't figure out the plausible reason why. Next to me I have my trusty Journal. I use it to as a diary, a planner and a folder where I can store ideas if they ever come to me. I have one for each month, otherwise combined; the Journal would be bulky, and hard to carry around. As I look towards the tourists, who are busy ordering coffee and cake, or sitting down and chatting amongst themselves, this one person in particular captures my attention. With thick, brown hair, lavishing blue eyes, and gleaming white teeth, and an average looking build, this man took me back to my childhood, back to when I was in school. His scar is a dead giveaway, sitting at the bottom of his right cheek. It's him! The boy that saved my life as a child. I haven't seen him since the ambulance took me away, flashing red lights, blaring noises, and all a blur. What was his name again? I feel a sudden discharge of pent-up emotions. He looks fantastic.
In a trance, I sit transfixed by his composure, and calming voice. A petite, convivial woman approaches me from behind. I can hear her footsteps from behind me, her feet quietly echoing on the lacquered floorboards. "Lorin, you need a refill?" Aušra clasps a steaming pot of coffee, just under half full. Aušra is Lorin's best friend, of 7 years, since this Coffee Shop was constructed. Aušra Vilhelmas Astrauckas was of Lithuanian descent, having immigrated to America just shy of 12 years ago. Though she adored the atmosphere and community, she sometimes got a bit homesick, and tried to remain true to where she came from through her accent, which isn't thick, but is sometimes difficult to understand. "See that man over there," I tell Aušra. Aušra turns to the group of hikers, eyeing them individually. "Don't stare too long!" I inform, slightly blushing. "Who?" "The one in the Islamic Green Shirt, and curt, Carolina Blue shorts. He also has that a camera tied around his neck." "Jeez, Lorin, no need to be so detailed. He's the only person in the room with a green shirt." Aušra laughs, snorting happily. "He looks hot!" She says, tucking her tongue down to her gums. I can't help myself, and chuckle at her wittiness. "Remember how I told you about the boy who saved my life?" Aušra nods, now understanding the gravitas of the situation. "That's him!" She smiles, then continues, "He looks smokin'" Aušra looks back over to the man, now sipping at a piping hot cup of coffee, starring out at Clingmans Dome, most likely wondering what type of experience this is. "Go talk to him," Aušra giggles, looking back at me, who is playing the part of a shy, and elegant girl all too well. "Did I ever tell you the meaning of 'Aušra'?" I shake my head, taking a sip of the coffee, her tongue burnt with flavour, "In Lithuanian culture, Aušra means dawn." Without seeing the point of what Aušra is trying to say, I shrug, "Your point?" "My point is that today is the dawn of a new day for you. Go talk to him. Look…" Aušra takes my hands, and cups them in hers, "I've known you for many years, and it is heartbreaking to have been through what you have, and you've been all so lonely here. Please, for me, go talk to him." They both chortle with laughter. Lorin agrees.
With a deep, calming breath, I stand up, the chair creaking beneath her against the floorboards. I pick up my Journal, and smile. "Better not forget this." I hug Aušra, and take my handbag from the ground and walk away, with every intention of talking to him. Fear, angst and wonder sets in as I get closer. I can't take it. I turn around, and start walking in the opposite direction. Aušra must have noticed my depression and anxiety setting in, and, sitting the pot of coffee she was holding on the nearest table, briskly walks towards me. "Come on, girlie." She gestures for me to go to the man. Seeing no other alternative other than to face the man, I take another deep breath, and walk over to him. "Hello!" I say, moving in to sit near him on the same table, trying to initiate conversation. The man looks up from his coffee, his face morphed by the steam pattern arising from the liquid. "Hello. I didn't see you on the bus. You a hiker too?" He asks, now engrossed in the conversation. "Umm…" I had to say something. Let's go with that! "Yeah, but I wasn't on the bus because I come here all the time, and the tour guide is a friend of mine." I can't believe he doesn't recognize me. We get talking, and after a few minutes, I stick up my two thumbs to Aušra to say thank you, who has been observing our developing relationship so far. I told him that Aušra was another of my friends. I learnt his name, after all these years. Davin! That sounds awesome! Davin Lennox Terry. Imagine that. Mrs Lorin Terry. The name has a nice ring to it, but I'm getting ahead of myself.
Soon after we've got well acquainted, I notice Hamilton on his way in. I lean my face against the direction where he is entering, so Aušra can explain the situation to him, and tell him I'd be joining the hike today. After a quick security brief, about how to act around the wildlife, and what to do if specific situations were to happen, we started the hike. We were assigned buddies, and, because I wanted to get close to Davin, I chose him, or, rather, he chose me, when we were asked. "Ok everybody, as we start the ascent up Clingmans Dome, I will explain some historical facts about the site. If you have any questions, feel free to ask me them at any time. Let's begin." Everybody started walking, in silence. I coughed, attracting Davin's attention. "So where are you from, Davin?" He staggers forward, narrowly avoiding a loose rock. "I come from North Carolina, you?" "Same! I grew up in Fayetteville." I am trying to allude to him who I am. "Wow! Same! It's a wonder we never met, because I would have remembered your face." I stop, and glare at Davin, who is still walking up. He just said that. I feel more lonely and desperate than ever right now. But then again, he did say he would have remembered my face. Maybe he thinks I'm cute?
Soon enough, Hamilton ushers the group into a tight formation, and stops as people take gulps of water from their drinking bottles, panting and sweating just the slightest. "Ok, people. I'll give you some background information starting from now on Clingmans Dome. After the tour is finished, there is an information centre that you may visit for more." Hamilton takes a sip of water, and then continues. "Clingmans Dome has an elevation of 6643 feet, or 2025 metres. Its prominence is 4503 feet, or 1373 metres. It is listed as a U.S. State High Point. As you know, Clingmans Dome is located in Sevier County, between Tennessee, Swain County & North Carolina. It is also the highest mountain in the Great Smoky Mountains Range, and the Appalachian Trail. We have a few rivers to the side of the mountain, such as the Little River on the north slope, and on the south we have Forney and Noland Creek, both part of the Tennessee River watershed. Any questions right now?" Some tourists are writing this information down, others are noisily flashing their cameras and taking videos for themselves and loved ones. One woman, in a bright orange tank top and barely-fitting grey sweatpants extends her hand. "I heard that there was a crash of some sort here. Is this true? If so, can you tell me more about it?" Hamilton nods. "Yes, it is true. On a murky morning on the 12th June, 1946, a Boeing B-29 Superfortress crashed at the summit of Clingmans Dome. On board were 12 passengers, all of whom died." I think to myself that this is becoming something out of a movie. Or a book. I take out my journal, and jot down some points. Maybe this can be used in my next novel. "What are you doing?" Davin asks me, glaring down at my Journal. "Writing some information down about this place." Hamilton ushers everybody forward. "On we march!" He gets a few misplaced giggles out of the group, as they continue the hike up Clingmans Dome.
As we get seemingly closer to the summit, I get an idea. I look at Davin, who is focused on climbing. "Do I remind you of anyone?" I ask. Davin looks at me, then to the ground, then back to me, clearly thinking of a witty or rhetorical remark. He says finally, "No, not really." I am, to be honest, getting fed up with this scam. How does he not remember me? The girl he saved! I vow to myself that when we next stop, I will tell him about who I am. About half an hour later, we stop. Once again, the tourists seem captivated in the atmosphere, the fresh air, and were content with taking photographs, and videos. Some took out their notepads, ready to write down some information, as told by their guide. Me, I was glaring at Davin, who was listening to Hamilton, who was just about to start his next information session. "Ok everyone, moving on, Clingmans Dome was known as Kuwahi or the mulberry place by the Cherokee Indians. It was only dubbed the "Smoky Dome" by American settlers. In 1859, the mountain was renamed by Arnold Guyot for an American Civil War general under the name of Thomas Lanier Clingman. The Clingmans Dome consists of a geological formation known as the Copperhill Formation. It consists mainly of coarse-grained metagreywacke and metaconglomerate. Any questions?" This time, no-one answered. "Ok. Let's move on. We are approaching our destination very fast." As the group starts walking, I remain still. I take a deep breath, and smell the sweet smell of a mixture of birch and fir trees, nestling between my nostrils. "Wait up!" I say to Davin, who was lagging behind the group waiting for me.
As I approached him, I gathered up all the courage in my body that I could, and coughed, attracting his attention. "Something wrong, Lorin?" He asks me, his sweet smile making my face bloom. "I lied. I didn't come here for the hike. I know you. You know me. You just don't remember me." Davin laughs, assuming this is a joke. "Then who are you?" He chuckles, going along for the joke. "This is no joke Davin. Sure, I didn't know your name. I never had the chance to learn it. As a kid, I was suicidal, and people hated me for it. Then one day, this kid tripped me over, and you, like my knight in shining armour came to my rescue and saved my life as I lay bleeding out." Davin stops. He looks down. "I thought you were dead. I thought I lost you. When the ambulance took you away, they said you wouldn't make it." A salty tear drops from his face. He wipes it off, rubbing his wet arm on his clothes. "I loved you. You never noticed that. In all your gothic fantasies and suicidal attempts, I was the only one that cared for you. And then you left me. It broke my heart." Now tears are streaming down his face. He is shaking. "Look, I'm sorry I never noticed you. I can't apologize enough. I have always wanted to thank you for saving my life, and, seeing you here today, I think I'm falling in love with you.' Davin looks up at me, his face turning pale, with a hint of blushed skin. "Come on, we are falling behind." Once again, he wipes off his tears, and this time, continued walking, picking up the pace to avoid contact with me.
I caught up to him a few minutes later. His face was still red, but otherwise he was alright. "I promise you that I didn't know. I have a question, though. Why did you never tell me?" I say, in a calming, understanding voice. "I was going to, on that very day you were injured, in fact. I was just about to tell you how I felt when that stupid kid pushed you down. I know you want to make up for it now, but I don't know how I feel about it. I blocked those memories. I repressed them. They were too dark for me." That explains things, I think to myself. Glancing up at him, observing his candid composure, I know he has truly been through some dark things. "Look, I am here now. Let me take you out?" He ignores me, for at least a minute. "No!" His voice isn't exactly violent, but demanding. I back off. Does he really hate me? I just ruined everything. There's no point in bothering anymore. I accept defeat.
We reach the Observation Deck. I have only been up here once or twice before. The view is amazing. I feel ashamed I didn't bring my camera. I do have my smart phone, but that has a dead battery, and the megapixels are quite low. I lean on the side, taking in the view. The wildlife seems at peace with nature, undisturbed, friendly, and eye-opening. Yet somehow, I feel empty, alone. Hamilton is busy talking with the tourists about specific facts on the wildlife, mountains, rivers and Clingmans Dome itself. Davin walks up to me, and rests next to me. I smell a whiff of his cologne, a mixture of alcohol and sweat. "No! I want to take you out on a date." I turn around, and stand face to face with him. I desire him, and for once in my life, I think someone want's me too. In a few seconds, that feels like forever, we embrace, and kiss, our tongue's intertwining in a rhythmic fashion. Thunder booms above us, and the rain starts pouring. Davin's face glistens in the wind and rain, as I kiss him passionately again. All my loneliness, all my fear, all my angst, gone! The tourists cheer, and Hamilton whistles. Davin and I laugh. This is definitely going in my Journal. I lovingly take hold of his elbow, as we began our descent down Clingmans Dome, and our ascent on love.
Well I do hope you enjoyed Ascent On Love. I wrote this over the course of two weeks for my first week or first piece in Booksie Idol Season 2, created by Future Author. Here is the link to his article/novel on the weeks chronicling Season 2 of Booksie Idol.
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