I wrote a short story for Creative Writing a while ago, and I quite like it, so I’m putting it on here. If you like it or not, please let me know.
A Human Mountain
Come, I am working on a new painting. Do sit down. Oh, it is about humanity. It is about life and death. I have yet to finish it though, which will be why you are confused over this. What is my idea? I will let you know when I become aware myself. However, the focal point is most likely to be a mountain. That is what I can picture clearest. Well, many cultures see mountains as being holy, or sanctimonious, or as something other than they are. Ignoring the primitive nature of the worship, I am hoping to incorporate these elements into- Hush! I can see the ending, you need to be silent!
I watch the man work feverishly on his easel. They call him mad. I can understand that. Despite this, there is no greater delight to life than watching a genius at work, so I shall not talk. An ambiguous shape takes life upon the canvas; this must be the mountain he seems so fixated upon. He pauses for a moment. Mixes a new colour on his board. Applies the bloodcolour to the painting. It seems rather a strange colour for a mountain, yet I say nothing.
The mountain is the end and the beginning! What else better links earth and sky? So, if I see the earth as being the start, and the sky the end, can I see this as life in action? What do you think? Ah, no, you do not have the artist’s eye, you are right. Like Death, I shall have my mountain of bodies. Do not ask stupid questions, you will distract me. However, still talk to me. Talk to me as the painting nears its end. I shall not answer, but talk nonetheless.
He’s adding the bodies in the painting now. How is it that, at the start which is meant to be the start of life, they look more dead than at the end? Perhaps it portrays the ascendency into heaven. Suffering on earth, up to relief and enlightenment in the clouds. He has a truly brilliant mind. Many say he’s mad, that he claims he paints what a spirit tells him to. They are right about the madness. He never listens to my guidance.
For this short story I used a prompt, which was a painting showing people progressing up a mountain. For the piece I tried to put myself in the shoes of the painter, but like a stream of consciousness or dialogue from the two perspectives in the story. It made sense when I first wrote it, but it has been a while, so I don’t remember much of my reasoning towards it.
For the quote ‘like Death, I shall have my mountain of bodies’, I wondered if perhaps Death wasn’t a permanent position, but instead one that could be passed down as soon as the quota is hit. I pictured the amount of lives that each Death would have to take as increasing with each heir. Using this, natural disasters and killer diseases could be seen as an impatient Death trying to hasten their turn to be released from their duty, and the ‘mountain’ being a kind of record of where they are and how far they have left to go, height and width wise. I wrote a short story from the perspective of Death after this one, using another prompt, but the same idea of Death trying to reach a quota. If I can find it, and if it’s any good, I’ll put it on.