The Sugar Quill
Author: Lynds  Story: Hill Walk  Chapter: Default
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The cowering hills hide under each other, bending away from the mean sky that sends sharp messages to them to express its anger. Walking over a hill becomes a struggle between myself and the forever-sloping ground that rises into a windblown hump on the open moorland. Blind force pushes my fiery legs one-step at a time to the top of the rolling force that bars my way. A long line of slumped figures in bright wet weather gear and huge humpbacked packs stretches along the ridge, silhouetted against the steely sky beyond. The rhythm of footfall after footfall stamps up thoughts into tiny, dusty fragments in my head. Images flirt for a moment in my mind's eye, rising and falling to the beat of my heavy boots. Music arranges itself as the landscape produces sound in my head. The melody of winds play tunes in the branches of a nearby copse. It gusts joyfully bounding effortlessly through trees in whistling song. A lone quarry on the hillside scars the sloping landscape with its blasted walls. This relative shelter seems still and eerie after the loud orchestra of the open moor.

My heavy legs drag along the ground with despair that weights them down even more. I hope that every step I take brings me closer to my goal; the Torr. It stands as though proud of all in its shadow. It tops the hill like a glorious jewel and will stand in a blizzard to a desert in a blink of its heavy eyes.

We trample over a bog that floats on many feet of peat filled water, so that the surface is floating on the sodden moss. Then I feel the earth move under my feet, and tread as if I were walking on a platform of cardboard. Im afraid that the bobbing mixture of mud and grass might crack under my weight, swallowing and drowning me in its black water. But despite this danger, small scarlet flowers grow, warning walkers away and brightening up a landscape that is otherwise a dull rainbow of greens, purples, blues and greys.

There are small scrapes of red peat open on the hill with their backs turned to the wind so sheep have shelter. On wild winter nights there is nothing more that these scrapes to avoid the pelting fury of the sky as it punishes the landscape for being there, thrashing it into tiny, scared, quivering pieces. Hills try to pull away, to avoid the dark sky that screams down on them, trying to thump them into submission. Yet they stay firm, resting on their beds of steely granite, and waiting until the fury of the storm has blown itself into silence. Then, as spring creeps over the freezing wet landscape, small curls of ferns offer tiny sprigs of life, shy in the cold light with a firm weather keeping everything ordered, until summer. This is when the landscape revolts against the strict order that the atmosphere imposes on its subjects. Heather casts a purple glow over now glorious hills, which puff out their chests to show off their new uniform to the glowering sky above. Gorse bushes sit like hermits, surrounded by low clipped grass. Sheep wonder around, shivering in the nakedness of Shaun skin, lambs not so small, leaping and giggling as their impatient mothers nudge them away.

Through this season the sky bides its time, and as the fierce heat of summer frizzles the fresh skin of the ferns, it builds up electricity. When the thunderstorm comes, dark cloud armies gather together, to beat back the unwieldy revolution. They spike the hills, punishing them for their disobedience, and kicking them back down to their lowly form. Autumn draws in thick mists, separating wanderers and light becomes scarce as freezing drizzle drips down the back of my neck, stinging my hot blood filled skin that shivers as I continue to fight my legs.

My twisted blistered feet feel the land, which has battled past a year with the sky. But not long now. The course of the year that has flown through my mind as I trudge up the hill becomes irrelevant as I see the sculptured stone that is the top. I stride the last few steps, nearly tripping over my own feet and too weak to choose a comfortable place to rest. Instead I simply flop down next to the cold granite.

Complete Exhaustion.

All I can hear now is my own pitiful gasps as my lungs fight to give my brain its backlog of air.

And as I slowly recover, I open my eyes to stare at the tangled grey mass of cloud above me. It twists and coils under my gaze, steely at midday in evening light. It looks down on me, and a slow grin crosses its face.

I have won for another year.

By Lyndsey Melling


(Beta Read version)



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