Brynn Richer

A BACKPACK’S JOURNEY THROUGH THE FRYEBURG FLAT LANDS

With every step the hiker took, his companion’s silver, zippered mouth opened wider—in shock of the basic beauty they were striding away from. It was the flat lands, Earth carpeted by flimsy wisps of grass, the occasional scattered shrub starting to balloon among them—dandelion tufts floating above it all. Overseeing its simplicity were two mountain ridges—falling from their high points and meeting at a center, as if to show crossed, muscled arms and remind the hiker of how easy this section of road was compared to it. 

He’d be there soon. The teeth opened more to drop the backpack’s jaw in impossibility. The hiker, finally noticing his friend’s astonishment, swung him around in an awkward side hug before closing his mouth. He tensed instead, finding a way to still make the hiker know his doubts. 

Sometimes, when he got nervous from seeing all the road they had already traveled, the hiker would swing him around and give him a proper hug. One where the hiker’s arms rested on his partner’s shoulders. It would only be for a mile or so—enough to make his friend feel ready to embrace the next passing stretch of road. 

But now was not the time for a hug. He had wanted to keep his eyes on the mountain—make sure it didn’t grow any larger before they had gotten there. There was no need for a more excessive challenge. 

***

It was an accident. He really couldn’t have helped it. Everywhere the two went, the mountains seemed to loom forward more. The impossibility of carrying the entire mountain back home for his hiker appeared larger than the mountain itself. It was the only reason his hiker could’ve possibly brought him. What other purpose was there for him? His hiker seemed so sure of himself. His pounding steps reaffirmed his confidence on every incline. His companion didn’t want to let him down. But he knew his limits—he thought the hiker had too. All the fears eventually culminated into the inside of his lining being soaked. 

The water steadily dripped onto the hiker’s shirt until it was finally noticed. The bottle had released everywhere into the bag. The hiker gently set his companion down in the grass. He was patient in drying everything off. 

His hiker zipper his mouth shut again. This time with jerky motions, allowing his metal lips to properly quiver in fear. 

He should have been ready for this. He had seen the tip of the mountain almost since the beginning of this journey. It had gradually grown, first showing all its snowy capped heads, then its sloping sides, before finally ending with its still-crossed arms. 

And it wasn’t like he had not prepared for his mission. He had carried for his hiker as much as he could. Stretching to the maximum point of discomfort—willing his fabric sides not to split at the seams. They had each tasted the oddest trail mix combinations—one including dried pineapple, pistachios, pine nuts, and chocolate—been soaked in more downpours than they could count, and witnessed enough sunrises to find it hard to come up with unseen color combinations. 

He already missed the flat lands. They seemed so much easier pack up—cut the carpet, neatly roll it up, and then zip it away. The hiker jostled him, adjusting his tense hold on his shoulders, giving him a reassuring pat while making sure his mouth was closed. The journey, unfortunately, continued.

***

It was difficult to hang on the hiker’s shoulders as he labored to the top. Once it was reached, the hiker’s calloused hands grabbed his companion and set him at his feet. He all but trembled as the hiker placed his hands on his hips and looked out. The entire flat lands expanded underneath him. The wind rippled the strands of patchy green shag below. 

The hiker scanned the view one last time, making sure his journey paid off. He took a few steps forward, causing his friend to dejectedly lie face first into the stone. 

Out of the corner of his eye, his friend witnessed the hiker pick up a rock. His hiker finally realized. He couldn’t carry the mountain, but this was where he would be left for his failure. He had tried in every way to tell him this was impossible—spilling water, changing the weight of the gravity on his shoulders, poking his hiker’s spine in an uncomfortable warning. But this was it. This was the end. 

The hiker picked his friend up, unzipped his mouth which released a pent-up scream, and tossed the rock inside—a keepsake to remember the journey by. Slinging his arms through his companion’s, the hiker jostled him one last time before slowly beginning the descent down. 

His companion couldn’t help but show his zippered teeth on the journey home. Mountains were hard to carry, but memories he could do. 

END.

BIO: Brynn attends Palm Beach Atlantic University and is currently a Junior studying English. She enjoys philosophy—especially Hume—along with artistically expressing her experiences through writing and painting. Though she is in sunny Florida, she enjoys her childhood home in New York and draws much of her inspiration from the state.

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