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It is finished. Praise be. Thanks to all who commented and encouraged and read and stuck around. I can hardly believe it’s done… for now, anway.
Declan had never asked about the one large bag inside her backpack. She had never opened it, at least, not in his presence. The only time he had ever seen her close to violence, a man had tried to take it. She had chased him down in 10 steps, and on the ground, moaning and clutching various tender bits of his anatomy, in 11.
He had a feeling — and preferred to wait for the surprise. He was right, too.
He and Rucksack were already standing at the top of anthill-speedbump. The day was clear and bright, and cold and thin-aired, but it didn’t seem as bad as usual. At the base of the mountain, several mountaineers and sherpas had gathered, curious about the tall white guy standing at the top of the hill and wearing a black suit.
They had their hunches too.
“Well,” Declan said to Rucksack, “at least we don’t have to worry about witnesses.”
Samantha walked out of the tent.
Now, Samantha was never one for white. She couldn’t stand it, really. An annoying non-color that just begged to get covered in red wine or spaghetti sauce. White had no place here anyway, in a place that was all white and gray.
Her dress was green, green as Seattle after the spring rains. Green as the small saplings leafing in the plateau. Green as the forests back home. Green as spring itself.
She wore hiking boots and carried nothing.
The sherpas, suddenly, began to sing. So did the mountaineers.
Samantha walked towards the hill, slow and steady, but speeding up as she reached the bottom of the hill. She did not falter, did not stop, did not even seem to be breathing hard, as she walked up.
At the top, she reached out for Declan’s outstretched hand. Rucksack covered their hands with his own. He turned and looked at Everest, then at them.
“Time is short,” he said, “and life is beautiful.”
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