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When she was fifteen she stayed in a campsite in the Alps from which she could see a glacier. She was on holiday with her family and each day they walked out into the mountains, caught lifts over trickier terrain and then hiked in the sun, through a green and icy landscape, strong against the heat. Often she walked apart from her parents and her sister. She found flowers which she twisted into her hair, or followed the sound of crashing water, which pulled her away from the path and to the freezing exodus of melting ice, careering from the glacier and hurtling down to earth. She would scoop up handfuls of water, though the ice stung her skin, and drink it fast and wet her face.

Each night, back in her tent she would lie with her head out of the canvas door and look at the glacier glowing blue in the night. She wanted to go and touch it but the walks never took them there, and she had been warned away because it was dangerous and she didn’t have the equipment or the experience to go. Her father was concerned about crevasses, knowing her tendency to roam. A crevasses, he told her, was a deep crack in the glacier, and each glacier was home to thousands. They were made as the the glacier slipped slowly over uneven terrain and, though some appeared to be tiny; you could step over many, they went down for miles. It would be a deadly fall were you to stumble. Her father didn’t want her to stumble, not ever really on glacier or life, and she promised she wouldn’t go there and he kissed her and left her to look up at it from her safe distance.

One day a father and his son arrived at the campsite. They were climbers and intended to scale Mont Blanc. The boy’s imagination was caught by the girl and one night when she was lying looking up at the glacier he stopped by her tent, bent towards her face and whispered that he would take her up there.

They woke early the next morning when the sky was still orange blue, and crept away from the campsite. They scambled up the mountain as the morning broke across the day and three hours later, having skidded and slipped and with grazed knees and scratches on their arms, they arrived at the edge of the glacier. Out of breath and laughing she was ready to walk across it. He gave her his boots, which were fitted with toothy crampons and far too big for her, so she wore his socks too and then leaped before he could stop her, onto the ice. And then she stopped, her toe at the first crevasse. Looking down she saw its magnetic distance, no end, no bottom, only sides, only a fall. She hopped over it. And the next. Stretched over the third. As she landed half way across the ice there was a growl from somewhere above her and she could hear the boy shouting her name. Turning away from him she looked up, half laughed as a she saw a small goat running from the glacier, and in its wake, stones and ice tumbling towards her. A moment of silence. And then she turned and ran, leaped over the crevasses and towards the edge where the boy was climbing towards her. The rocks were speeding faster and she stumbled and was shouting and he reached and lifted her off the ice, and they fell backwards onto the stony edge, breathing hard. On top of him, she could hear his heart racing.

Thank you, she said.

Jesus. I thought you were going to die.

I’m here.


Years later the girl is no longer a girl but she remembers the glacier. She feels sometimes that she misunderstood what happened and that perhaps she didn’t make one of the crevasses but slipped down. And that she has stayed there, trapped in icy stasis, while around her life went on. When she looks at the people she loves with their families and loves and hopes and houses she knows it could not have been different, because she would always have scrambled from the path, it’s just that when the boy leaves, there’s no one to catch you and you have to get to the edge by yourself.


Written by elikafm

November 14, 2010 at 3:26 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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