Was this who she was?
Why must the mountain loom, in the window of her room? Fore and aft in all her thoughts?
Sweet black tea and too much cream slid silken past pale, frowning lips and down her scratching throat. Smooth synthetic fabric tickled the tops of her pink knees.
Eventually Samantha realized how much she shook. The teenage girl sat heavily on the goldenrod folds of her unmade bed.
Cartoon bees traced elegant curlicues between daisies and daffodils on her rayon robe. Plastic vines and dim christmas lights hung in shallow waves, interconnecting the multitude of smiling photographs and sun faded posters.
Still there it stood, framed within her only window, that terrible cragged peak. Still there it lay, the odd poem in her tangerine glittering dream journal, written in crabbed script.
Colossus, north and west
patience, past, and rest.
Movement of fire,
slow. Breaking perception and scale.
Glacial, molten, motile, unchain’d.
Movement of fire,
ash and groaning stone.
Stone and glacial flame.
Sammie told Todd she was going out for some exercise. Short green cotton shorts and a faded gray sweatshirt quietly confirmed her lies.
“Call your mom if you’re gonna be late.”
His words did not follow her out the door. Sammie’s phone was under an orange towel, dead on the bathroom counter anyway.
She did not remember how she came to be there as she started up a steep dirt road, far from home. Cold wind whipped across her long legs and stole the sweat from her brow. Soon enough the angry fire of her ascent washed the dry winds’ discomfort from Sammie’s surreal awareness.
The rest of the trek became little more than unpleasant flashes:
Taupe colored mud on her lips and gritty water in her mouth.
Sand colored stones slowly giving way to rust and black basalt.
Flora losing the green punctuation of juniper, turning to leafless gray scrub oak.
Branches scratching at her hands as she climbed ever higher.
Somehow it all intermingled with distant memories of Todd. Times he was drunk and they were alone.
He used to insist she sit on his lap:
Hot pressure in her neck when she relented.
The scared jittering in her ribs.
The terrible weight of his rough fingers lightly resting along her thighs.
A memory relived of Dan stealing a kiss Sammie did not wish to give.
The slap of Jenna’s fingers against her face in return.
The weeks of lonely lunches thereafter.
Sammie squatted with feral strength on the volcano’s naked southern face. Her skin was abraded and bleeding, blood becoming mud in the incessant scouring winds.
Deep with her aching bones, deep within the mountain’s ancient bowels, she felt slow crushing movement. She knew the insistent joy of glacial flames.
Sammie in futurity did see; the false town beneath her suffocated in caustic ash.
She smelled the brimstone caress of burning flesh. The dead-eyed smiles of cashiers choked away in sudden black skies. Church steeples burning unseen, dry distilled and rendered unto crumbling charcoal crosses. Fake laughter and undeserved apologies dying on ten thousand lips…
Sammie laughed through clenched teeth and tears. Stones jittered underneath her blistered feet.