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A Short Story by James D. Pratt

Copyright 2011 James D. Pratt

Smashwords Edition

Smashwords Edition, License Notes

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In the Old Woman’s mind, there were only two mountains. The first held the shack where she had spent her sad, brief childhood trying to help her family eke a hardscrabble existence from the dry, rocky soil. She’d moved all the way across the valley after becoming a bride at the age of fifteen, and it was there on the second mountain she would spend the rest of her life. Though the distant peaks on the horizon were practically identical to those which constituted the totality of her world, they were places she had and would never set foot which made them mysterious and exotic. As a girl she’d imagined them to be gatekeepers to distant lands filled with handsome princes and fantastic creatures. Even in her adult mind they remained inscrutable sentinels marking the farthest edges of the known universe.

It was a hard life living among the mountains. They made you a part of them, in life as well as death. The Old Woman’s angular face was as jagged as an outcropping of weather-forged rock, her bony brow a shelf upon which sat several lifetimes’ worth of woe. The edges of her cheekbones seemed as sharp as razors her complexion as red and raw as a freshly plucked chicken.

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