Rita stood at the edge of the mountain, feeling the cold, crisp winds twisting and toying with her hair like a small child. It was almost tempting to just throw herself from the peak and fly off like a giant sparrow. She'd tossed her backpack onto a bench behind her to further feed the sensation of being weightless. She wore a light blue sweater that she wished was thicker; she hadn’t expected it to be so cold up there. The ground under her feet was very tough and hard, with a couple determined patches of grass popping up. The sound of the singing birds was drowned out by the ruffling of the swaying trees.
Past the railing and below, there was a long snake of a river that slithered around the rolling hills. Trees were sprinkled here and there, dappling the land. There was a small town by where she'd started the hike: easy bait for tourists. Indeed, behind her she could hear a tour guide leading a small group of people who snapped pictures every couple of minutes. In the distance there was another mountain that looked almost identical, only larger.
At the beginning, she hadn't been so sure about coming here. With everything that had been going on, she'd tried to convince herself that staying in the city was the best idea. She had to find a house and a job. It wouldn't be long until her half of the money ran out and she'd be overcome with desperation. There would be no other choice but to either turn to her parents or ex-husband, neither option of which was to her liking. It'd be much better to avoid that, she'd told herself as she browsed through the list of tickets. Taking off to some South American country can't possibly be a responsible move, she reasoned as she drove to the airport. Not smart at all.
The thoughts plagued the plane ride as well, the calm knowledge that she was likely destroying everything she’d worked for. It all seemed to be useless worrying now, as she stood at the top of the world. Sure, she'd spent a good amount of her divorce money just to get away, but she didn’t regret a thing, at least not yet.
She already knew what her sister would say, what she said when she'd announced her decision to leave him. That she "always ran away from everything, always abandoned the things she couldn't handle." She couldn't help but laugh, tipping her head slightly back and letting the sun kiss her face.
She thought briefly about moving on from her spot. There was a home to return to. This was her last day here. Tomorrow she'd have to get up early and take the long plane ride back to reality. Awaiting her there would be logic, pessimism, and the responsibility for her actions. Or she could stay here, standing and admiring the view without a care in the world.
As she gazed at the neighboring mountain, the memory of when they had been stuck in a whirlwind romance teasingly lingered. They'd once taken a trip to that suspicious sushi place. It had tasted so horrible and old, and yet they had such a laugh about it. Her arm had been intertwined in his as they made their way back home. It was a silent night their neighborhood. He kept on making cheesy jokes that reeked of exhaustion. She was pretty worn down as well, laughing at each and every one. At home they cuddled in bed, a carton of ice cream between their bodies. A random movie was playing on TV, she couldn't remember which. By the time they fell asleep she was in love all over again.
Yet, she also remembered when she'd left him. They sat down at the dinner table, everything civil. She'd voiced her concerns first, her heart beating hard in her chest. There was no chance he didn't hear it. He was silent for a moment, then slowly began to nod. It was the first time in a while that they had strongly agreed on something. All the fighting in their relationship, it couldn't possibly be healthy.
He got the house. She had insisted that he keep it despite that fact that he had a stable job and she didn't.
"It's just so full of unhappy energy, Charles," she'd said. "I want to start fresh."
"Rita, stop being ridiculous," he'd replied. "It's a perfectly good home. I can help you with the mortgage until you're back on your feet. Do you feel like you can't afford it?"
"It's not that." She'd shaken her head, chuckling softly. "I just can't stay here." It wasn't surprising that he had been angry and irritated with her, as he always was in a constant state of frustration. She was a very spiritual person, and he wasn’t at all.
It was starting to get dark. Slowly, Rita pushed away from the rail, glancing forlornly over her shoulder. Her green scarf bounced slightly as she descended through the forest trail at a skip. There was barely anyone around her, and to her surprise, a slow feeling of loneliness began to overcome her. The reality of what she’d done seemed to strike her at that moment. Maybe her sister was right, but in a different way. Every time something went wrong, she wouldn’t always have the option to run off. Who had she told about this trip? Nearly no one, save for a few select. Her stomach lurched. Oh yes, she’d ended it, and for the best. Whether she matured from that was her choice, and so far, she didn’t feel like she was.
Taking a shaky breath in, Rita forced a smile on her face for no one in particular. The trees blotted out the sunset and leaves slowly drifted down, carpeting the mountain floor. She strode on, her eyes shining. She wasn’t sure what was going to happen, but whatever would, she’d try her best. Like the mountain, she wasn’t about to let a few silly inconveniences crumble her.