“The Wind the Mountain and Me” by Konrad Filbeck

Written by plumtree

Topics: 2021-22 School Year, Complete Archive (2012-2020)

My name is Dante. When I was two years old, my Mom and Dad put me on skis. “Why can’t I go on the lift?” I asked. My mom would always say, “Because you are too small to ski onto that big seat.” So, I just kept my mouth shut, because I knew I would be big enough one day. Nine years later, I now have the courage to get on the lift, the grit to deal with hard falls and the kindness to care for people who do take a hard fall. I think of the moment when I did not have these traits and smile.

Going up I feel a sense of awareness as I ponder which slope I will come down on. The ride up could be long or short. Although not for me, because it always feels like the same amount of time. It is like another dimension, with dubiously plain gray sky and hectic seas of white below. As I take a closer look at the sky I see that it is moving. Far off in the distance, grey specters float around like the wind. I am startled by one flurry flying right below me. I clip it with my ski and it gives me a knowing look. I only see flashes of this world that take me away from the real world. Like a dream but it stays with you after you wake up. This is what changes my perception of time on the lift. The flashes take me in and out, I try to follow the specter with my eyes. I yell “wai-!”

“Dante!” “Dante!” “Dante!” my brother yells. Dante, we are going down this run, Okay? Okay!?!” “Just leave me alone right now Justin.” Up up up up up up up.

Sometimes we look at the map, if there is one. The way up is a time to think of your plan. Your plan to go down in search of the bottom. Going up I feel cold, but the ice serves as armor. A protective shell, and yet, I feel confined. As we go up one of my skis clips a tree. As we ascend I think, “I could have had my leg ripped off if I was a few inches closer.” But the moment passes. As we go up farther into the cold my mom says that it is getting a little chilly and my vision flashes. The same ghost I saw before flies next to me. All of a sudden it turns blue and icy. I just wave it off as I come back. As we get closer to the top my toes start to freeze up and my icy shell gets harder.

We are getting off the lift now and that is all I should be focusing on but I get distracted by the ice. It is so cold. It feels like a person trying to be your friend just for their own selfish evil gain. The ice gets stronger as we get closer to the top. I get scared that it will not break. I panic and.. . We get off and the icy armour shatters, leaving me free but fragile. As I glide across the snow to my destination. I watch my brother. He often falls behind or is too far ahead. He can never really keep a good pace going so I always watch him and make sure he stays on track. It is like we are tethered together by an invisible string that shields us from dangers of the adventure. He looks out for me to. In his own ways. And sometimes he does not even know it. He sees something that will happen before it happens, and when he tells me I listen. I listen because he is always right.

As my dad falls behind we all turn around and wait for him. It turns out he stopped to take a photo. I stand next to my mom and brother posing for the picture. My dad takes it. He put the phone back in the bag and smiles as he says, “If it’s not good we’ll come back up and take another one.” My brother and I groan but keep on moving. My dad has always had a bad sense of humor. I guess that was the only funny thing about his jokes.

As we near our run I feel hope. Hope that I will get to ski, hope that I will feel the wind in my face. The wind is a friend. A friend to the mountain. A friend to me. A friend saying, “G-o-o-o, I am here with you.” But I am not a friend of the mountain, nor is it a foe. The mountain is a wild beast waiting to be tamed. A stray with a collar and I have the leash. My leash are my skis and I use it well. Confidence is most of it. Confidence is your grip on the leash. As it is with all new things, and also ancient things. As we come to the slope, the dull blue square does not give me a challenge to overcome. So, I say to my parents, “Hey guys,” could I go on the double black while you guys go on the blue?” My parents exchanged looks of concern. “I don’t know Dante,” said my dad. But my mom stepped in, “Can we trust you to meet us at the lift?” she asked. I hold the leash in my hand and consider whether I should step toward the stray or back away, afraid of the bite. I step forward.

As I near my run the two black diamonds turn into an arrow, pointing me in the right direction. The slope is steep and forbidding but I go on. As soon as my skis touch the icy snow I stop. I think, “Am I really doing this? And the wind says, “You have done this before. Spread the butter and ski.” So, I ski. The mountain becomes steep and forbidding, and for a second, I want to hide in the icy shell of the lift again. But I go on. I am careful not to go too fast or too slow, I all of a sudden take a wrong turn! My skis cross over each other and I spin out of control. The wind is not strong enough to protect me from myself. I fall, my skis come off, and the feeling of loneliness pounds down on me. I start to cry. There is no one on the run to help me. I push through though. I get up. My skis roll over to me as a giant gust of the wind comes through. I wipe the tears out of my eyes, put my goggles on and leash the mountain.

I realize that the wind and the mountain are all just there to teach me something. Each run, each, each mountain, each slope, every time they teach me something new. Except for now, it only tells me, stripping me of my ability to write it down. It tells me so I can hear it, but never completely understand. They tell me, “The amount of you in everything.” For a moment I understand it. I understand that just because the world is so big and you are so small does not mean that you do not matter. It just means that everybody matters. A flash of light, a clap of sound and it vanishes, leaving only a trace of there ever being a voice in my head. But I hold onto that trace. Because it is a clue. A clue to a much bigger puzzle. But now that I see the box, I know what the puzzle looks like. I just have to figure out how to solve it. As I get to the bottom I can see my brother, way ahead of the group. I wonder if he learned something too.



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