From my vantage point on the top of this hill, I could see all the stretched out before me – from the grassy plains just below, to the dark, razor-teeth mountains on the horizon. A fence stretched somewhere not too far behind me, following the hill's spine and continuing, blocking off some piece of property. However, the nearest buildings seemed to be from a small village lying between this hill and those foreboding mountains. I turned to my companion and spoke.
“Let's head out from here. Being at the top of this hill isn't safe, we'll be easily seen.”
My companion sniffed in the cold wind, wrapping a wool cloth to block from any encroaching tendrils of chilled air. “Nay,” was the response.
“Why?” I said, a bit louder. The wind was picking up, and my voice was being carried off much easier.
“We can see everything from here,” was the answer I got. It was true, I could even spot things I thought I couldn't. For instance, there was an eagle flying about past the little village. As the winds picked up, the eagle swept around and landed on a branch in some wooded area, and hunkered down for the night. Aside from that, I saw a baker in the village exit his shop to examine the sky and the weather. Upon witnessing the darkening, gray sky, he quickly dashed back inside and plucked a cooling pie off the windowsill before slamming the shutters. Even more so, a herd of some hooved animal – likely deer – charged across the plain towards the forest area. I watched their path of regress as they made their way past the village and safely under the trees.
It was all quite peculiar, but I attributed the extraordinary vision to my vantage on the hill. I determined to not look into it much more, and instead focus on how we might take cover from the obviously impending storm.
“Can't we walk down, just a little?” I implored. “Perhaps a lower altitude on the leeward side will prevent us being buffeted by the wind,”
“Nay,” Was responded. They continued to stare into the horizon.
What was I to do? I turned away, and surveyed my nearest surroundings. The fence was only a few yards behind, and I decided to walk to it. It was a rather sturdy construct, built a time ago much longer than when we had arrived here. The wood had grayed from age and weather, but was smooth to the touch. I continued to examine the fence, even kicking at one of the posts, to see how well it held. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it didn't move an inch. I wondered how far it stretched, and determined it reached about two miles, ten yards, and seven-hundred and seventy-six feet. To my right, behind my companion, was a small, spindly tree about twice my height, that the fence builder had used as a fence post. It was rather interesting – he had nailed the two cross boards into the back of the tree so that it acted like any other fence post, and kept the fence up and sturdy. The tree itself was not much to speak of, with small leaves concentrated mainly at the top, and no hanging branches. It was gnarled and twisted, and likely took the brunt of the wind that swept across this hill. Even now, leaves were filling off in the dozens with the air currents around it. However I did notice one thing, a heart carved about a few inched above my head, on the side of the tree facing outwards towards the village and the mountains. It was empty; no words or letters in it, and carved with what didn't appear to be a knife, but instead some improvised sharp item. Maybe a key? I couldn't tell.
That heart intrigued me; without any definition of who may have carved it and for what purpose, I supposed that anyone could claim that heart was for them. It was like an open-ended question; a prompt, into which you could ascribe any matter for existence, varying from beholder to beholder. A lover, a favorite place, a beloved animal. The author of the question remaining – deliberately or otherwise – anonymous, must have had an original reason for creating this art. But, though the viewers and audience could only guess at why, they could still make their up their own meanings. It was a proverbial canvas to be filled. I turned to my companion, who was still stoically peering outwards.
YOU ARE READING
The Hill (Flash Fiction)Short Story
From the hill we could see everything. But within each other, I could see nothing. When so much remains constant, why do variables change? And do they change deliberately? Or, like an empty heart, is it for us to ascribe?