Just Over the Next Rise

Just over the next rise.

Jarvis felt as though he had been walking for days.  Of course, that wasn’t possible.  He didn’t think the sun had set and risen yet.  Or had it?  He couldn’t remember.  What he does remember is walking.

Just over the next rise.

Why was he climbing this mountain?  Jarvis couldn’t remember.  Is he alone?  Jarvis takes a look around himself.  Nobody else here…  Was there ever anybody else?  He thinks so – but he’s not sure.  It probably doesn’t matter.  Ah!  I’m at the top!  Jarvis finally crests the hill to find…

Just over the next rise.

The ground slopes down and away from Jarvis and after a mile or two sweep back up to another crest that lies maybe just a few miles further along.  Certainly that must be the top!  He pauses for a moment to take a drink from his waterskin.  Dry.  He moves his tongue across the back of his teeth.  It’s swollen.  The inside of his mouth felt more like a burlap sack than like flesh.  He feels a sting on the inside of his cheek and the metallic tang of iron overcomes his sense of taste.  Well!  That’s refreshing!  It hurts him.  It makes him want to vomit.  It is the most gloriously vivid sensation he can ever remember!  Looking down across the sere landscape, he sets off again.  One foot in front of the other.

Just over the next rise.

******

It’s been days.  He’s sure of it this time!  How many hills have I crested since I last checked my water?  Jarvis thinks back very carefully.   1…  2…  maybe a couple…  I think it was 4! How far apart was each?  Must be at least 5 miles.  In that case, I’ve gone 20 miles!  But, wait…  The sun hasn’t moved.  The sun, in fact, had been directly overhead when he last stopped for water.  The sun was still directly overhead.  I must be close!

Just over the next rise.

Jarvis trudges along, his legs getting heavy.  He has been walking a long, long time after all! He doesn’t really feel anything anymore.  Suddenly a memory comes to him.  He’s at work.  He’s on the phone in his cubicle.  It doesn’t even seem possible!  Life is climbing!  There’s no such thing as cubicles!  Nonetheless the memories keep coming…

Just over the next rise.

******

“I understand, Mrs. Esperanza.  I love my home, too.  But, if you can’t pay the mortgage, there’s nothing I can do.  We have to foreclose.”  There is a brief pause as Jarvis Avides clears the board in his 7th game of solitaire that afternoon.  “Now, look, Mrs. Esperanza, crying won’t help.  When you and your late husband signed the papers to re-finance your home, we made a deal.   You’ve broken that deal.  Our representatives will be out to claim the property tomorrow.  Have a nice day.”

    Placing the phone gently down on its cradle, Jarvis gets up, flips off his phone, makes a jerking-off motion at the rest of his office, powers of his computer and makes for the exit.  Hey!  It’s only four o’clock and I told my wife I’d have to work late tonight.  He taps the wireless headset in his ear.  “Call Molly,” he commands.

    “Hey, baby, great news!  I’m out early.”

    He gets into the crowded elevator.

    “What do you mean you’re busy?”

    The other elevator passengers stare uncomfortably at their shoes.

    “C’mon!  I told my wife I wouldn’t be home until 8!”

    Somebody coughs.  There’s a long, tense silence among the occupants of the elevator as a tiny, pleading voice squeaks out of Jarvis’ earpiece.  Eventually, the doors open, he steps out and marches across the lobby, clearly irritated.

    Jarvis reaches out a hand, his metal wristwatch glinting in the sun as he pushes his way through the revolving door and out into the street.  “Look!  If you want me to keep being you that shit you’re going to clear your fu-”  He is interrupted by the people around him screaming and pointing up above him.  He looks up to see a familiar shape growing larger in his sight.  Hey…  That’s Harold  “Oh, shi-”

    ******

    Jarvis opens his eyes.  It’s cold.  The sun stares down at him from directly overhead.  Still can’t see much of anything…  Or anyone.  Hadn’t I just seen Harold?  Wait.  Did I ever know anyone with that name?  He looks behind him.  Stretching off as far as the eye can see is a landscape of rolling hills falling away.  He looks around him.  There’s some brush, maybe the remains of some ancient trees.  There are patches of what might have once been grass.  All is now dry, and cold, and the wind is beginning to pick up.

    Jarvis picks up his waterskin.  Still dry.  He should have remembered.  He looks ahead.  He can’t remember where he’s going.  He knows he’s been trudging up these hills for a very long time.  He can tell, he is very nearly there.  The top.  He lumbers up the last few hundred feet.

    Finally at the top!  Topping the crest of the hill, Jarvis looks around to see what there is to see.  Over the rise, the ground slopes back down again and then up to yet an even taller hill.

    Just over the next rise.

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