Life Far from the Mountains

Giacomo Sartori
Life Far from the Mountains
I don’t remember how long I’ve been up here for, but one thing I know for certain is that I’ve watched at least half a continent go by. The girl who threw me back in the sea had wrung out her red hair, squeezing it between her fingers. Shortly before I had followed her through the waves and, before that, underwater, watching as she reached the seabed and admired the fish in their thousands.

All she had to do was squeeze her locks a bit tighter and I fell back into the water along with other sisters, for whom fate had cast the same die. Then the sun carried us up here, and wind pushed us through the clouds, higher and higher, faster and faster.

The sea has fled far away because the coast was chasing it, and the plane was chasing the coast. I’ve seen so many fields shoot by beneath me you wouldn’t believe, with ponds, lakes and rivers running down the centre of them, where other sisters waved up me. Then the ground rose and the trees got in the way.

The wind has got colder and has pushed me ever higher.

I thought I might be shattered on the rocks but then, just in the nick of time, a gust of hot air carried me up towards the sky. My sea was so far away! It had been almost six months since I had last left, and I was getting quite used to that paradise.

A far cry from this bitter air. Every molecule within me is freezing over.

Yet I do like this journey. I feel powerful.

I’ve heard that loads of people pay through the nose for a trip like this.

Mind you, I could do without this cold. Glacial, I might even call it.

I can feel all the bonds within me tightening up and I hope nothing weird befalls me. It’s the first time this has happened to me. And with this wind getting faster and faster! I don’t feel right at all. It’s not just the cold, I can feel something else. Strange shapes are forming within me, broadening out and fashioning themselves into little claws. Goodness me it feels weird!

I don’t feel so cold anymore, but I don’t understand what’s going on.

The wind isn’t blowing like it was. It seems to have disappeared, like the night has sucked it back in.

I keep travelling but now it feels more like I’m dancing, not like yesterday’s crazy trip.
So it seems that either I’m going down or the mountain is coming up. No, it’s me, I’m approaching it.

It feels like I’m being engulfed by an enormous cloak, but I’m not wearing anything. It must be the cold playing tricks on me. Though I have to say that the sensation is not entirely unpleasant.

But what’s that white patch there? It’s not the beach, I can’t see the sea. But I’ve definitely never seen so much white like that. It looks like a giant cloud that’s curled up to sleep. Not those grey kind of clouds though. Vaporous ones, full like a flute concert, the kind you just want to dive straight into and throw your arms around.

But I keep heading downwards and it’s a nice dance. I’ve got the chance to sort myself out a bit after all that wind. And now I can see the valleys and the hills, and more mountains in the distance which I know I’ll never reach.

Just as well.

When I started the journey I thought I’d end up there, yet here I am now, gliding along as slow as you please. Except now there’s something rising up out of the forest. It looks like a spear, aimed at the sky. No it’s not a spear. More like a tapered tower soaring up into the clouds, as if to show them that however low they come, the it, the tower, will always outdo them.

I don’t feel cold like I did before anymore, in truth I don’t feel anything.
The sounds of the waves are just a distant memory, and the gulls’ cry has given way to the call of a great bird circling above.

Just a few metres more and I halt, next to other sisters in costume, like me.

I’m almost hot now!

It’s so pleasant not to feel the wind anymore and to find myself connected to others like me. And yet this silence is odd and so is the strong smell of resin.
It must be coming from those trees, so different from the ones I knew.
Hey, where are your manners? You walk right over me and don’t even say sorry? Who do you think you are!

But who’s going about in this cold? I spread out and spot two skis running parallel to each other and, in front of them, that shape that trampled me.

She’s a bit like the girl from the sea, except that she was almost naked, whereas this one is completely wrapped up in some brightly coloured fabric. Goodness me. What is going on today?

And another one! Careful, you’re messing up all my crystals! God only knows what they’re running about like that for.

Eventually they both disappear into the forest, and their breath plumes in the air. After that, just silence.

The sun has put its pyjamas on and has settled down behind the mountains, and now it’s getting colder and colder. I huddle closer to the others, feeling better amongst them.

Best to keep your head down. But the silence is not black like the night.

I can hear music playing softly. Like when the tide would rise and begin to fill every cavity in the rocks, every crack and every fissure, bringing new life to the sea creatures.

The music is coming from a house made of stone and wood, lit up by lanterns that dance like stars.

I see humans embracing behind the windows, or spread out in comfortable armchairs, smiling.

From their faces I’d say there were happy.

Other humans rush about discreetly around them, making sure they can stay as they are.
Eventually I fall asleep and the night passes me by.

I am awoken by the heat of the sun and the rustle of other runners who are already beginning to tire early on in the morning, just like the ones yesterday. This scene is repeated over and over for weeks, until the day becomes so short that it seems night has simply devoured it. Then, strangely, the light begins to grow again and the grey days begin to fight with the sunny ones. It seems like yesterday that I finished up on this meadow, but almost six nights have passed.

Finally I feel my joints creaking into motion. About time too! I was properly starting to stiffen up! And to tell the truth, basking in the sun’s rays every morning reminds me of the sea and I start getting all nostalgic.

But what is going on today? Everything’s moving here and the bonds within me are coming undone.

It’s so nice to be stretch out a bit after all this time! Just a bit more and I’ll be able to move again. Hurray! We’re on the move again. It’s still cold, but at least I’ll warm up once I get moving. I’ve ended up in a little stream which goes through the meadow and from there into a creek, and I’m moving down so quickly that I only just catch sight of the signpost: Vigiljoch. No idea what it means, but I can safely say the place is much nicer than the name.

It doesn’t feel like a race anymore, it all seems like one big game.
Up and down, lingering to caress the smiling rocks before I am thrust back off them and begin running once more.

The music is really loud this time. Almost louder than the storm!
As I run and run, down and down, I can feel my head ringing with the noise. I don’t know which was better, this or flying on the wind.

Finally a familiar smell fills my nostrils. It’s sour but pleasant, like the calm rocking me now.

I keep sliding for a few hours more until I’ve almost come to a halt, and then I feel the rhythms of the waves.

It means I’m home.
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