You can’t start climbing the mountain until the first rays of sunlight touch the top and you don’t want to be touching stone when the last evening beams fall, so from the moment your foot touches the base there is no time to spare. The mountain is so tall you can’t see the top for the boulders in between and there’s not time enough in the day but if you want it badly enough this is the only way.
Half running tripping stumbling through the thick hedge, this won’t do, slow down take a breath don’t stop, now the stone is steeper and you’re scrambling up with hands and feet and thick gasping breaths that tear at your throat and your side is throbbing. There’s no time. The sun has never moved so quickly and the bushes seize at your ankles, claw your calves, and now there’s something running down your leg that’s thicker than sweat but it should clot soon enough right just keep moving up and up and up.
The sun is so heavy on your shoulders. You can’t remember who told you this was a bad idea but they might have been right, just like all the other names you can’t remember right now along with everything else that has slipped out of sight with the bottom of the mountain. Your feet are getting lighter now with each step because there aren’t many things left to forget and the clawing bushes might have torn your shadow away, maybe that’s why you’re moving faster now, like the deer that go from the plain to the slope without noticing the earth tilting under their feet.
The sun is slipping from the zenith and the wind is picking up, colder than anything you’ve ever felt, slips right through your skin and muscles to sink straight into bone and carve the marrow out and leave you hollow like bird bones or the moon.
The sunlight is almost gone and there is a quivering noise at the edge of your hearing as the shadows climb the mountain behind you like the rising flood but you have never moved so fast or light. You don’t know anymore what the sunlight burned out as it left or what the thorns stole or even what is no longer at your core now that the wind has made its nest there, but you do know with a sweet sharp certainty that the peak you see is no longer a false top but the very last spire of stone still touched with the setting sunlight.
The wind is curled up in your chest where something else used to be and you take the last few feet upward with unchecked speed to that jutting tip of stone and land, coil, spring. The wind sings its dance through every limb, and the sky tastes like everything you ever thought