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Mountain PeakExpectations pool at her feet. She is shedding them like leaves, like old skin, releasing everything she once thought about what this moment should be – and more – what should come next, what is owed her.That’s the hardest thing to relinquish, this sense that she is owed something – love, fame, happiness – that she has been cheated of a life that had been promised to her all along.

She lets this thought spill over her: she feels entitled; the world owes her this. It soaks her hair and burns her eyes. It is sour, and she is sticky with it. The world owes her this. To say it aloud is ridiculous, embarrassing to admit, but she hesitates to release it. It has been her companion as long as she can remember, her blanket, her walking stick, her crutch, and her comfort. This is coming. It was promised.

But by whom? The question is almost a whisper. By whom?

By the stories! she says before she can stop herself. The stories promised redemption. True love. Understanding.

It sounds so frail when she says it aloud, so flimsy. But it is the truth she’s been carrying, if you can call it that. It is the spine of her story, and it’s time to meet it dead on.

The world owes her something. Is that true?

She holds on with both hands. Yes!, she wants to scream. It is true! It is! But she has walked the earth too long to believe her own lies when the mask comes off. Truth is painful but burns clean.

No, she says. The world doesn’t owe me anything. Her heart sinks like a boulder in shallow water. The fall is quick and loud. Then silence. No one owes me anything.

It feels like a funeral. The black crepe wraps itself around her ankles and travels up her legs. She wants to weep and wail. And she may yet. But a breeze has come in, just grazing her skin.

The world doesn’t owe you anything, it whispers in a gentle voice. Not anything. But neither do you. No debt to pay. No bargain to strike. You’re naked on the mountain, baby. What will you do now?

The black crepe falls with her expectations. She is naked on the mountain. No hope to don, no plan to wrap herself in. Her skin prickles with this cool candor. Nothing promised. Nothing owed. Naked on the mountain.

What do you do – naked on a mountain? Nothing promised. Nothing owed. What do you do?

The light flickers. She starts to laugh. The ripple starts down at her bare feet, rises up through her bare belly, over her bare breasts and naked arms, across her tear-washed face. Rippling with laughter. With realization. With light.

You dance! She says, catching her breath. Naked and alone on the mountain? You dance.

© Deborah Edler Brown

Image of the mountain peak courtesy of puttsk / FreeDigitalPhotos.net