There are no paths. The peak juts up into the sky, a gargantuan fist, a palm curved to protect. It is a dark purple black against fading, pure blue. \n\n<<timedcontinue 5s>>Night is coming.\n\n<<timedcontinue 5s>>Fortunately the underbrush is thin and dry, you pick your way through without much trouble. The foot of it an immediate cliff. Taking a breath, steeling your nerves, you take a [[foothold]].
a [[lifeboat]]
You must venture in and find her. With certainty, without hesitation, you take the plunge. Through the brush.\n\n<<timedcontinue 4s >>You have been walking a very long time.\n<<timedcontinue 2s >>There has never before been a day when you could not see the mountain.\n<<timedcontinue 2s >>You have slept two times.\n<<timedcontinue 2s >>The food you brought is gone and you feel [[hungry]].
There is a split up ahead. \n\nThe papers took you this far. Few have seen him, and you are on your own.\n\n<<timedcontinue 3s >>You are at home in the feeling, and are not frightened by the fork you stand at. To the west is a [[gravel]] path. It may have been recently spread. The hikers way, maybe. \n\nTo the south is a [[dirt]] trail. It is crummy and weed poked and wild. It leads upwards almost immediately. A mountain path.
As the shape pulls out from the shadow, you go cold. It rears up, it has the form of a man.\nYou know it sees you.\n<<timedcontinue 2s >>It.\n<<timedcontinue 2s >>[[Him]].\n\nThey lost him years ago and they stopped looking. You have all the articles. A simple man, the papers called him. How simple? And outdoorsman, they called him. Lost in the woods for years and no help came, so what became?\n\nYou thought you would be able to share that loneliness.\n\n<<timedcontinue 2s >>Father snarls.\n
There is no hesitation when you reach down and take the ancient blades in your hand, leaning over the altar so that every shaft of hair curls down into the basin. You cut and cut and as you cut time slows. Each tuft hovers. They all float, a matrix of what you are coming from. \nYou cut your clothes. You are naked.\nYou walk around the altar to the rock, fading now, beholding it. For a moment you run your hand along the surface. There is no blood, you are whole.\n\nYou sink your hand into the mountain and step through behind.\n\nRest at peace alone and in love with yourself.\n\n\n<<timedcontinue 10s>>//End.//
Today is your first day as an adult, and thus, a free person. You are hungry for fresh air and freedom.\n\nYou stretch your hands out to either side of your head, your long and thick knobbed fingers spread, letting them fall, and [[push up]].\n\nOr, you find the rush of water filtering into the sand too soothing to leave. You are lulled and comforted. You decide tp [[rest a while]].
@import url(,700italic);\n
The dock water laps the toes, you pull them back. Stars are distorted, you watch them, waiting for them to come together again\n<<timedcontinue 5s >> but\n<<timedcontinue 2s >> they won't.\n\n<<timedcontinue 2s >>\nThey are split on the [[pebbles]].\nThey break into small [[rivers]].\nAnd sink into the [[sand]].\n
There is something more pulling you. At the edge of your senses and the ledge, it's getting clearer.\nSplayed, you move like a crab, sideways. \n\n<<timedcontinue 2s >>Trust yourself.\n\n<<timedcontinue 2s >>It gets clearer and you reach a crack. There is no doubt that what you're hearing is [[laughter]].\n\nYou cross it.
The city. Small, a population in the high thousands. Not a town. There are skyscrapers but they are modest. There is glinting neon, flashing electric, garbage, cans, rats, people. Many colours. Few tourist attractions.\n\nAlorma is an island but it is not beautiful in the way people who go to islands dream. It is rugged, surprisingly dry. It is under the thumb of a hand shaped mountain in the south, that sometimes looks like a fist.\n\nThe city is in the valley of the mountain. It is tightly knit with buildings. The oldest are a few hundred years old. The community home you left today is less than that. They gave you your documents.\n\nThe library is modern. Their records, online. From a brief and tearless farewell, it was your first destination. You searched their names. You found their histories and so.\n<<timedcontinue 30s >>\nYou hope to find yours.
Mrs. Daloway* had kept a closet for an office which was stuffy and lit by an old burlap covered lamp. It was yellow in the room. She wrote letters there and collected postcards. So many cerulean sands, so many far off friends. You would stand behind her while she wrote sometimes, and she would tell you about Monaco, Seychelles, other places. She never went. \nYou know you have to [[keep going]] even if you are going alone.\n\nA few more meters out, the shore still within sight. The chill finally unerves you. You've proved enough here, and you decide to [[get out]].\n\n\n\n^^Mrs. Daloway. Foster parent from set number three. Kept for seventeen months, a very pleasant woman, red hair sabled, many lines. She bought the flowers in the morning and by night they stood framed in sunlight from the window out of which she had thrown herself.^^
The white steps are worn, but there is no one here you see. The entrance with its winged pillars gives onto a narrow and long hall, a smooth, sun gilded walkway with only jutting stones leaving long shadows.\n\nAt the end, a flat oval slab, so thin it is translucent. \nYou approach.\n\nHere\n<<timedcontinue 7s >>you remember;\n<<timedcontinue 3s >>a hand reaching down for you in the water;\n<<timedcontinue 3s >>the gnashing, blunt, bloodied teeth;\n<<timedcontinue 3s >>your hands on a rock smashing down into a wretched pulp;\n<<timedcontinue 3s >>your gut wrenched at the wound.\n\n<<timedcontinue 3s >>No.\n<<timedcontinue 3s >>\nUpon the altar is a pair of blunt but gleaming [[scissors]].
<<timedcontinue 2s>>//End.//
saved end\n\n<<timedcontinue 2s>>//End.//
Today is your first day as an adult, and thus, a free person. You are hungry for fresh air and freedom and the hard dirt beneath your feet.\n\nYour boots ground themselves against the pebble shore and you [[stand]]. Your legs feel like twists of iron, ready to propel you up to a great height.\n\nOr perhaps you feel too grounded here, on this shore. It would be good to wait, to gather yourself, to [[rest a while]].
It is beginning to give in to your will, this mountain. It is not a flat incline you are facing now. There is a tilt, you lean into it, relieved for this small improvement. Plants are clinging as desperately, woody roots twisted down into the rock face. You think they're sumac, introduced.\n\nAgain the sandstone gives, this time beneath a foot. A real fear grips you. You fall a foot, and catch yourself desperately with your hand buried deep in the red, soft burrs. Your face scraped open on the rock face. \n\n<<timedcontinue 15s>>Your bag jolted open by the fall.\n<<timedcontinue 3s>>Your precious papers ripped away by a ferocious [[zephyr]]. You cry out after them, bag falling, but they're gone.
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Looming above gleaming Alorma like a giant wart is the mountain. It has overshadowed every [[home]] you have ever had*, every school, every escapade. You have no desire to go in that direction. Instead you shake the last sand grains from you, and strike out to the [[west of the city]].\n\nYou will find the flats, the golden plains, the dessert.\n\n\n^^There have been seventeen. They were very young when they had you, had no support of their own. You've been told they tried. You were just old enough to be difficult when you met your first family. Confused. Angry. Some families lasted longer than others. Some barely made an impression and they were gone. This last year you didn't even have one. Just the nurses, the guardians, the community home.\n\nYou were never hurt.
The west holds nothing but danger and death. Every matron preached these words from every teachers desk. The dessert. You have not been. You were not allowed.\n\nThis did not stop her. Few articles mention your mother. A small stub from when she was a child, fierce as the heroine in a play. A real play, not in school. \n\n<<timedcontinue 8s >>And at fourteen, she disappeared. \n<<timedcontinue 2s >>You know why.\n<<timedcontinue 2s >>Three more years, she returns to school.\n\n<<timedcontinue 2s >>The pictures show a different child.\n\nThoughts swirl in your head. Is she still that tigresse? Time and your steady tread have lead your further, long gone from the city heart. There is a dark and dangerous [[copse]] ahead.
Famished, you spend your days picking on bugs. \n<<timedcontinue 4s >>You read your papers obsessively.\n<<timedcontinue 4s >>To escape the shadow underbrush you climb up in the trees. Light illuminates your history.\n\nYou can never reach the top. You never see a golden ribbon, the dessert.\n\nWhere are the [[animals]]?
Alorma is the city which stretches out past the rock and white sand beach, meek skyscrapers just peeking from behind the man made dunes.\nThe dunes were made to protect the beach from erosion.\n[[the city]]\n\n[[running water]]
Hot and nauseating adrenaline pulses in you and you see the beast move. Elegant in darkness.\n\n<<timedcontinue 3s >>A heavy penduluum, your arm comes down with it's bludgeoning bulb. The animal squeals. Starving and afraid, you rain your desperation on it's putty head until it is a [[pulp]].
Eventually the water rushing down to meet this sorry ship is too rapid and lively. You fight it. You win a few times where the curves get tighter.\n<<timedcontinue 5s>>A large push of raging mountain water knocks you from the boards, as the dark obelisk far in the distance rears up, //it could be next to you//. Your feet pump the water, their weight dragging. You kick, catch yourself scissored between boulders, heave yourself up. You ache.\n\n<<timedcontinue 7s>>Three careful jumps take you to the bank.\n<<timedcontinue 2s>>Just enough time to see the raft rushing back to where it came from.\n<<timedcontinue 5s>>Your goal is more certain now. Ahead of you, the [[mountain]].
You scuffle, rolling across the razor slate pinacles, dust kicking up.\nMy mother!\nMy father!\nMy!\nMy\nYour twin cries echoe briefly until the hungry sand sucks them away.\n\n<<timedcontinue 2s>>//End.//
Just as you [[capsize]]
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When you feel rested and the sky is an electric purple, you roll from your back onto your front, then hands and knees. Looking forward, you see an empty expanse, glowing sumac, a temple. White marble lit orange and where did it come from? This is not the architecture of your country.\n\nYou leave your crouch. You have nothing with you but your shirt, torn pants, strong boots, self. It is not cold.\n\nCalm like the sea that brought you here you approach the [[temple]].
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The hikers way is greener than you have seen on this city island. It has a lushness you find sinister. You know the sands of the beach, the view of the dessert in the West.\n\nThe gravel is gone very quickly. You don't pursue it. You leave the path. You are trembling. You feel a pull.\n<<timedcontinue 6s >>\nIt is urging you to go [[deeper]].
You freeze, as stock still as that time with the dogs*. For once you are facing the danger. The rustling in the trees. A deer, a boar?\nYou try to back away, crouched and quiet, your eyes scanning the new dark. This is not an animal.\n\n<<timedcontinue 2s >>Where?\n\n<<timedcontinue 2s >>[[There]].\n\n\n^^Two brindled boxers, young, their legs lean. Mr. Blondin gave his sons a play set, and the dogs chased you from his yard, through Norma's, and up towards the house you had just moved into. You were a stranger there, too. A couple feet of old stones raised the properties apart and you stood on it, staring at this new home. The dogs barked behind you. They could follow if they wanted. Mr. Blondin yelled at the foster father and said how you hurt animals and you were gone.
When you follow the city this way, you find a [[road]]. School trips have brought you here before. Come play with the animals, the birds. Hold seed in your hand like this and they will come.\nYour tan boots leave a heavy tread for a trail. You start to sweat.
The water is a dark blue. It is darker further out to sea, where it turns to a smoky black, white peaked.\n\nAlorma, your island, is not in the tropics. It is your [[home]].\n\nPulling off your shirt and pants, you slip into the water wearing only white cotton underwear. Another first.\n\nFunny, you hadn't expected it to be so [[cold]].
It is a long walk. Hours. As you go the shadows band into a gang and cloak you. In a moment of fear you turn around. In the sky is the orange tip of the mountain, curled like a fist.\n \n<<timedcontinue 2s >>You have never seen it from this angle.\n\n<<timedcontinue 2s >>It looks less powerful.\n\nTurning again you follow your intended path, your gut instinct saying he is here. The outdoorsman who made you. Your maker. Here, in the woods.\n\nYour gut says don't go further into the sudden [[dark]].
Iron strong, your legs pump you up the increasingly steep path. It is straight and true.\n\nIn the paper the stories say your father was a simple man in many senses. He was not smart. He lived an uncomplicated life, he was a grocery store clerk. Basic. Harmless, incredibly kind. He was a good looking man, though with a wide nose that gave him a sharkish dullness. He had worked at same store from before your birth (you counted). \n\n<<timedcontinue 5s >>He was unmarried. \n<<timedcontinue 2s >>He was sixteen years older than you. \n<<timedcontinue 2s >>He was an outdoorsman.\n\n<<timedcontinue 2s >>There was no note, and no one looked for him after a few months.\n\n<<timedcontinue 2s >>On the path you watch your [[feet]], placing them steadily, reliably in front of one another.
A bruised black from bellow, now the mountain glows a ferocious red in the last glints of sun. Only an inch from your nose, pressed close. Your breath is coming hard. \nRaw, your hand grips a rock. Your legs check for steadiness and push you up.\n<<timedcontinue 7s>>You reach for the next.\n<<timedcontinue 3s>>There is none.\n<<timedcontinue 3s>>Your arms brace on the edge and a final kick brings you over, your scrapes slowly dripping blood and plasma on the [[plateau]].\n
New and old the buildings lean up lazily hoping for more sun. She is not too great, this small and self assured port. You've left your mark on so many surfaces.\n\n<<timedcontinue 3s >>No surface more important than the sheafs folded up in your black canvas bag. Here are the names, dates, faces. Three people.\n\n<<timedcontinue 2s >>You are old enough to know, at last. And you have waited.\n\nYou will find them. The city pulls away to the east behind you, you follow the words to your [[mother]].
You press your back harder against the bark of the tree but he jerks forward. Too many twisted knees, he moves like an animal.\n\nHe is still faster than you, as you blunder to the side and try to run. He grabs the waist of your pants, your face crashes down to the ground. Hardness under the leaves. You yell, twist, scratch. There's nothing to grab on to.\n\n<<timedcontinue 8s >>You see his cold eyes, and you were wrong.\n\n<<timedcontinue 2s >>Animal.\n\nHis teeth have not blunted from eating the wild plants. They are strong. Gnashing as you're lashing, he forces your head aside and sinks them into your neck. Shreds.\n\nYou stop.\n\n\n<<timedcontinue 10s>>//End.//
Your hand skims the waters edge, warm air breathing over your finger tips for a second.\n<<timedcontinue 4s>>There is no one there.\n<<timedcontinue 4s>>Unsurprising.\n<<timedcontinue 6s>>There never really has been anyone there for you.\n\n\n<<timedcontinue 2s>>//End.//
Your sister does not budge, but her eyes [[narrow]].
There is a noise and there is no turning back. You would not be able to find the way now.\nIt seems like everything is too loud, too conspicious.\n<<timedcontinue 2s >>The soft crinkle of the folded papers in your black canvas bag.\n<<timedcontinue 2s >>The dry crunch of leaves, pine needles, and rocks.\n<<timedcontinue 2s >>Your own breath, no matter how quiet and quick.\n\n<<timedcontinue 2s >>A few meters ahead of you, a heavy, damp sounding [[grunting]].
You've always wanted to [[get out]], you've just never wanted to do it [[alone]].
waves grow dangerously tall, your raft is creaking and you\nare\nafraid.\n\n<<timedcontinue 2s >>Did you just hear a [[voice]]?
The mountain is sediment and sandstone, red and black, some other solid rocks you can't identify. You think limestone, soapstone. Some handholds crumble in your fingers and you slam to the cliff face, breath heaving, heart pumping acid.\n<<timedcontinue 6s>>You have not done this before.\n<<timedcontinue 2s>>You've never thought of doing this before.\n<<timedcontinue 2s>>\nBlood on your nails and knees. You are not an athlete. You are not ready for this. The wind screams at you. There was probably a slope you could have found. \n\n<<timedcontinue 2s>>The ground is still close.\n\n<<timedcontinue 5s>>Gritting your jaw, you [[keep climbing]].\n
Here the trees are gnarled, and you hear misplaced creatures wander in the dark.\n\nYou know that it is miles wide and miles deep. You worry you could get lost for [[days]].\n\n<<timedcontinue 2s >>And if you don't get lost?\n<<timedcontinue 2s >>The copse yields onto a vast and uncertain [[dessert]]. This is where you will find her.
You've dreamed of the day you'd [[get out]].\n\nAimless, at peace. You let the damp breeze brush your shoulders. Small salt crystals form. Myriad.\n\nNo goal without nurses, guardians. None needed.\n\nIt is really up to you to choose if you'll drown or if you'll [[swim]].
The easy part is ending, and the path is gone. Your are trusting your instinct. You have left the slope behind, and your heart is crying out that you [[climb]]. \n\nThe mountain shows you it's protruberances, you grab them, you go.
down runs the [[river]]\nback into the [[sea]]
It runs up into the dark dessert of the city-isle.\nHere it gets cold with the descending dark, a chill runs up your spine. You know what you're looking for.\n\nThere up on a sheet of flat rock juts a [[cottage]].
It has been many sleeps.\n\n<<timedcontinue 2s >>You are a fool.\n\n<<timedcontinue 2s >>You are weak, and failing.\n\nSleep is impossible. Your body is strained and hurting, your nails digging into your palms. You suck the blood.\n\n<<timedcontinue 4s >>There is a scrape in the bush and your hand snatches up a [[rock]].
Orphan (c) 2013 Katherine Verhoeven\nMore things at\nor
and there [[she]] is.
In the light is a family. Three girls who shrill, as a lumbering man wrestles them around the fire. He seemed larger in the pictures, you think. To the children, he must seem as big as Cloudfist, the mountain. \n\n<<timedcontinue 2s >>You step out from around the bend, clearing your throat. You have your papers.\n\n<<timedcontinue 2s >>\nThe girls yell out "[[daddy]]!"\n\nDryly, you speak "Dad?"\n\n
Driven by that lonely memory, and many so much like it, you push yourself. You stop looking back, and if the shore is still there, you do not know it. The water is so cold out here in the black.\n\nThere is another shore. It is where you are going. Another island. No one will know who you are.\n\n<<timedcontinue 8s >>Your muscles are burning.\n<<timedcontinue 5s>>Your muscles are //freezing//.\n\n<<timedcontinue 5s>>Shit.\n<<timedcontinue 2s>>Shit!\n\nFrantic, you paddle harder, but you can't make your arms stronger, you can't kick your legs deeper. Your body is giving up. Has it been hours?\n\n<<timedcontinue 3s>>\nThe light is dancing above you, which is how you know you're not above the water any more. Through the crepuscular rays of the fresh day you swear you you see the shadow of a hand. You [[reach]].
Unwavering in your certainty, you catch it, haul it towards you. You have no important belongings*. It's not even a decision to crawl onto the roughly lashed boards, or to snag a flat-sided piece of driftwood and start to [[paddle]] south. You are moving up a river. \n<<timedcontinue 7s>>It is not easy.\n<<timedcontinue 3s>>You belive in your strength to pull you.\n\n\n\n^^You have owned many things, of course you have. You have been a child. You owned trucks and dolls and it doesn't matter who you were living with, foster or community home, you were allowed to keep them with each move. They wound up stolen, broken, lost. You grew not to want to any more and would leave them where they were given to you. They were not you.\nYou have a bank account with 348.34$. You have a black canvas bag with some clothes and eight green cellophane 20$ bills, wrapped tight with an elastic. You own one pair of shoes, tan mountain boots. Your most important possession is your papers, your birth certificate. Everything you've been able to find on your mother, your father, your twin. It's not as thick a stack as you would wish for.
Shivering, you cast your eyes about the rock beach. You're suddenly filled with an unimaginable energy and will to live...strong, <<timedcontinue 3s >>alone.\n\n<<timedcontinue 4s >>To your shock and surprise there is a raft in the water. It is bobbing\n<<timedreplace 5s >> <<replacewith>>up <<endtimedreplace>>\n<<timedreplace 6s >> <<replacewith>>down <<endtimedreplace>>\n<<timedreplace 1s >> <<replacewith>>up <<endtimedreplace>>\n<<timedreplace 3s >> <<replacewith>>down <<endtimedreplace>>\n<<timedreplace 4s >> <<replacewith>>up <<endtimedreplace>>\n<<timedreplace 2s >> <<replacewith>>down <<endtimedreplace>>\n<<timedreplace 7s >> <<replacewith>>[[UP]] <<endtimedreplace>>\n
Today is your first day as an adult.\nYou are hungry for fresh air and freedom. \n\nThe wind, stiff with salt, buoys your spirits. It might be the first time you've felt so light.\nRiding this burst of spirit, you fill your lungs, and [[get up]].\n\nBut perhaps you feel more calmed and relaxed by this lightness. There is nothing wrong with choosing to [[rest a while]].
This is the island city Alorma, and it has been your [[home]] for many years. Walking unhurriedly, you pass around the downtown core, with its small bright cars and hot pavement.\nYou are heading [[south of the city]], to the iconic mountain, Cloudfist*.\n\n\n\n^^This is not the mountains real name^^\n\n\n
Isn't it enough that I got rid of you?\n\nYou think she has been [[drinking]].\nBut we're family, you insist.
Katherine Verhoeven\n[[twitter |]]\n\n^^recommended listening: Aphex Twin, Ambient Works^^
The cliff is sheer, with large hand holds and slippery sumac. You must press forward and [[keep climbing]].\n\nClosing your eyes, you try to imagine what he would be like now. There are photos. You have his jaw. Narrow, refined. You think you have his complexion, but the photos are not in colour.\nHe was young in most of them, but still older than you. \n\n<<timedcontinue 2s >>His face was unlined as though he seldom laughed or cried.\n\n<<timedcontinue 2s >>\nWould he have aged terribly since his disappearance? The bottom falls out of your gut, a pull to the left that you wonder if you should [[follow]].
You were a very long time ago for him. It takes so much talking. You may not be the only one; he never knew better. Speaking to him, you start to understand how kind the newspapers were to call him a simple man. \n\nHe offers you a plate. They have a house. It is made of logs, a long house with a platform higher up in the rocks. Built it himself. Your father has a woman in town. She drives a truck on the mainland, leaves for months sometimes. She has a husband. Her cleverness is enough for the two of them and their children.\n\n<<timedcontinue 15s >>He asks you to stay, to talk. Tell him about who you are. \n\nYou are welcomed here.\n\n<<timedcontinue 20s >>//End.//
Small girls with shrill voices shriek delight. An undercurrent rumble drops the heart out of you, and you walk along the ledge unafraid of the drop.\nThe rumble deepens, roars into the full laugh of a man. Your ledge is growing.\nThe purple mountain has gotten dark during your climb, the shadows a cold blue, the few sun kissed patches glowing orange. Ahead is a yellow, pulsing [[light]].\n\nSmoke carrying sage and sumac and lemon and fat.
You huff over the body. Your hands are so warm. You lick them. Nothing has ever tasted so good.\n\n<<timedcontinue 4s >>Nothing has ever tasted like this at all.\n\n<<timedcontinue 4s >>Looking, down, you squint in the dim, the treeshadows block the moonlight.\n\n<<timedcontinue 6s >>The figure of a woman.\n\n<<timedcontinue 2s>>//End.//
You made a choice. The road continues, and as it does, it gets thinner. You pull the papers from your black canvas bag, and leaf them until you come to this. Your hand is steady, with the name of your [[father]] printed along the top.\n\n<<timedcontinue 3s >>News clippings from eight years ago.\n<<timedcontinue 3s >>Little else.\n\nHe was lost to the city for the mountain and environs many years ago and few have seen him since. He has a name which you do not share.