Short Story 'The Woman on the Mountaintop', Ambition, Determination and Realisation; Response to a Challenge
It seems we all love a challenge. There’s something in the human psyche that can’t resist one! Writing challenges are wonderful. They make us look at specifics, they channel our thoughts, they inspire in so many ways and a remarkable amount of unique responses are generated.
This story is in response to challenge to write a story or poem using a specific title, inspired by a specific photo (below). My thanks to bill for issuing this challenge and for continuing his inspiration and encouragement to writers everywhere.
The Woman on the Mountaintop
The Woman on the Mountaintop
She stood there, shielding her eyes, stretching to eye the summit of that intriguing mountain in the distance. Had anyone ever trudged there, caught her breath in the heady air? Had anyone touched that cold white toupee covering its summit, felt that icy blue on her skin? Had anyone looked down from that peak to the land spread far below, feeling Queen of her Kingdom yet remote from the world, able to reach the heavens?
She was close to the top of the world. What would it be like to actually reach it, to conquer, to achieve, to revel in the praise of fellow woman and man. Wouldn’t it be glorious, to be famous, lauded, maybe even remunerated for her story? It would be a slog but she could do it, couldn’t she? Hard work wasn’t alien to her.
What do I have to Do?
Pondering as her eyes swept the landscape, “Let’s see, what would it entail?
- Getting super-fit,
- grafting to earn money to finance the climb,
- asking my family to support me,
- going without treats to help me save,
- eating healthily to strengthen my body,
- planning my equipment and my journey.”
Standing looking towards her hopes and dreams, she felt elation at the prospect of conquering that far off tableau. It would take a while to get there. It would take months to reach the goal, to satisfy her yearning to beat all others.
For that's what it was, a yearning to be the best, to be recognised for an achievement, to just once have that fifteen minutes of fame. She felt that her life was lacking for the want of an ambition realised.
This woman went home to start her plans. She isolated herself for hours, scribbled lists, numbered pennies. She talked to her family about her plans, she enthused, she told them how she wanted to shine, to be famous. She was part-way down the line, up the slope to her mountaintop.
One day soon after the declaration of her intentions, her youngest child, somewhat bemused by her words, looked at her and said, “Mummy, what did you mean when you said you wanted to shine?”
“It means someone is special, they’ve managed to do something that no-one else has achieved, they’ve done better than others trying for the same thing.”
You're Special, Mummy
“Oh,” said the child. “Well, I think you are special, Mummy. You do all sorts of things for us that no-one else does. You’re a much better Mummy than my friends’ Mums. Your smile shines like the sun when you’re happy and we’re having fun. You make me feel happy too.”
The woman who’d stood gazing longingly at that mountaintop stopped. Her intense gaze at her son changed into a smile that lit up his life, reflected her soul, showed him how wonderful life was.
Tears of joy filled her eyes. Then she realised.
Change of Heart
Standing looking down at her son, at her hopes and dreams, she felt elation at the prospect of her future. It would take a while to get there. It would take years to reach all her goals, but she no longer wanted to beat anyone, to be revered for any of her actions.
This woman made another journey to look across to that distant mountaintop. She enjoyed the view, the beauty of her surroundings, the joy of the fresh air, but this time she didn’t long to touch that peak above the clouds. Her present life was far more precious than a sudden whim. Did she not have already what many others lacked? Did she need recognition? Did she need remuneration? No.
So she wouldn’t plan for any equipment, for any journey. All she needed for her journey in life was already here. She had her family, her friends and her happiness. There was nothing as valuable as that, nothing to reach for that surpassed that; nothing as meaningful, as rewarding, as the goal of caring for, giving to and loving all those around her.
Fit, Healthy and Happy
Getting fit she could attain without climbing a mountain. She knew how to work hard, to save money, and, with her husband, to provide their family with all they needed. Her family supported her without question, whatever she was doing.
Treats were saved for special achievements, for special events, but they didn’t matter. Life was good anyway. Her treat was seeing smiles on the faces of her children, her husband, her friends. Eating healthily was sensible and they had wonderful fresh produce from their garden, from their self-sufficient life-style; it was second nature to her.
She had nearly spoilt it, before her precious child had jolted her senses.
All you need is Love
She had it all. She had love. She was already a woman on top of the world.
© 2014 Ann Carr