A Tableau

By DARRIUS ESTIGOY
Staff Writer

A droll grey sky stood solemn over the jagged landscape, the purple-hued mountains threatening the skies with their sharp points. A cascade of evergreens tumbled over the face of the mountain, covering every square inch imaginable. A heavy mountain wind ran through these trees, threatening to blow away anything unprepared to withstand it. The mountains did their best to prevent anyone from enjoying them, but despite their efforts, they never completely succeeded.

Whenever we cruised along on the winding road, me in the driver’s seat, her glued to the passenger side window, those mountains shone with the luminous quality of a southwestern sun. Beguiled with this charming display of airs, she’d roll down her window and attempt a closer look. I’d slow the car and let her take in the sight.

“Couldn’t you pull over for just a few minutes?” she’d ask, knowing the answer.

“We probably could,” I’d reply, as expected. “But only for a few minutes.”

She’d smile, knowing that she never had to ask me to pull over. To tell the truth, I would’ve pulled over regardless. I never found appeal in the mountains, but I loved the way her sleepy eyes lit up with excitement, how her lips curved into an ecstatic grin, the pale pink framed by her cheeks, flushed red with joy. To some degree, I ended up appreciating the mountains because of it. I was enamored by the sheer happiness she could garner from them, that bliss that brought us away from the world for a little while.

I’d pull over on some abandoned stretch of road and the two of us would clamber out. We always ended up at the same spot, where a rusted road guard was all that separated us from the cliff’s edge. She’d rest her head silently on my shoulder, I’d draw her close to me, and we’d breathe a bit faster until the beating of our hearts matched. Then we’d both stop breathing, letting our lungs suffer from want. Every breathless moment seemed to go on forever, an eternity we both found solace in. When it finally seemed our hearts would give out, we’d lock eyes and take that breath of life together. And we’d return to our predisposed spots, her with head on my shoulder, eyes kept shut, and mind floating lazily through the aether.

This moment of ephemeral happiness would never stick around long. The chill wind would inevitably grow colder, the sun would duck away from sight, and the skies would darken with a sudden influx of clouds. She’d open her eyes and crinkle her nose disappointedly, whispering, “I think it might be time for us to go.”

“Yeah, I guess we should head back.”

And the two of us would head back to the car, silently sharing that sullen suppression of serendipity. I’d be driving, bringing us back to society; she’d be settled in the passenger’s seat, watching the dull landscape through the window, her hand gently resting over mine as I passed through the gear shifts. We were still far from home.

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