I’ll Come To You – Short Story

I’ll Come To You

by Maclean Patrick

It was a cold breeze blowing against her exposed arm that woke her from her slumber. She forgot where she was, thinking it was her cold apartment back in the suburbs of Kuching, Malaysia where she would be having her afternoon nap, tucked away underneath the checkered blanket her mum gave her for her birthday. Instead she opened her eyes and found herself stuck in between a gunnysack of potatoes and four crates of green cans marked HEINEKEN. She pulled her shawl up, covering her bare arm and shook the cold away by giving her arm a good rub. She had taken off her jacket the moment she stepped into the back of the truck and used it as a pillow as she slept, seated upright against the truck.

The agonizing climb by the old Soviet era army truck had come to a halt. They were stranded midway up a slope on a mountain road in the middle of nowhere. She could hear the driver cursed into the wind and telling everyone to disembark, he promptly whipped out a can of beer, unceremoniously taken from one of the crates of HEINEKEN. Her trip in the truck was over. A puff of white mist alerted her to the other person in the truck seated across from her. He looked worried as he rested his backpack against the side of the truck and adjusted the shoulder straps. He gave her a nod and smiled nervously.

She sighed, pulled her hair back, grabbed hold of her backpack, jumped off the truck, kicking gray dust as her feet landed on the lonely mountain road. She stood there and took a moment to survey where they had stop. The Himalayan range was towering majestically in the distance. Without cloud cover, K2 and Everest jutted out like misshaped dark blue fangs piercing a clear blue sky. She was standing facing the ceiling of the world but she did come to climb them, it suffice enough for her to merely admire them from a distance and take a single picture with her battered CANON camera.

It was not the best place to be stranded considering the fact; help would take weeks to reach them. But all along she had relied on help to get her this far. She saved up and borrowed money for the plane-ticket, weaved her way through the maze of train-lines in India and made her way up to Nepal. By pure chance she had met a Sherpa on his way home from climbing Everest headed in the direction she was heading. They had hitched a ride on an old supply truck heading up towards the small village where the little school, she had hope to reach by early afternoon, was situated.

An old man walked by her and smiled. Toothless and broad face, he studied her face and nodded. A tattered dust covered coat clung to his body and he had a multicolored cloth bag slung over his right shoulder from where he took out prayer beads. In small courteous steps he walked towards her and stood next to her and again offered her a toothless smile.

Have I met you before or is this merely a warm gesture shared by strangers walking in a common direction?

He gestured towards the Twin Mountains in the distance and with prayer beads in hand he clasped his weathered hands together and started to pray. She did not understand a word of his mantra yet she felt a profound peace sweep over her and as he prayed she heard the chiming of tiny bells. Bells, tiny bells tingling, she looked around her yet saw nothing that could make the sound she heard. She turned once more to face the old man but he was now gone. She was standing alone before the Twin Mountains on a lonely mountain road. She walked a short distance down the dirt road but only saw boulders, more empty dusty road and no old man with the prayer beads.

He couldn’t have gone far…wait…

She stepped nervously to the edge of the dirt road where the ground drops in a sharp incline towards a river on the valley floor.

Surely the old man did not jump?!?

The hairs on the back of her neck stood and a cold chill, colder than the Himalayan air, went up her spine.

Mountain Spirit?

“Anna, we will need to walk from here. Driver say truck no good,” the man with rosy cheeks called out to her.

“Ok…Oni. You lead the way,” Anna replied.

Oni nodded and wondered what his charge was doing standing at the edge of the road looking down at the valley floor. He whistled to her and pointed up the slope and started walking. Anna looked over to Oni and obediently followed his lead, leaving the truck behind her. So the caravan of two, a stocky, small sized Sherpa with rosy cheeks followed by a lanky, tall woman with tousled hair, made their way up the dusty dirt road accompanied by the faint chiming of tiny bells.

“How far to go?” Anna asked as they rounded a bend at the top of the hill.

“Two miles. Pass old stupa on hill and down into valley,” Oni answered more than he was asked. Maybe it was an unspoken rule of Nepal, to answer more than asked. Economy of words, the more you pack into a sentence, less breath needed to make long explanations.

Anna smiled and maintained her pace, timing her steps in line with the ones Oni took. Oni was a head shorter than Anna yet his pace was twice hers and with much effort she labored to match his pace. The thin mountain air did not auger well for Anna, causing her to huff and puff with every step as the two maintained a steady march, their hiking shoes kicking dust as they navigated their way down the mountain slopes while the sag of their backpacks cut into their skin as they walked hunch-backed up the accompanying slopes. She eventually had to call out to him to stop and allow her to rest.

“You get tired very easily,” Oni said as they sat on the top of a large boulder by the dirt road.

“I have had no rest for the past three weeks.”

“You travelled a lot?” Oni asked as he scratched his head and ruffled his thin hair.

“Yes, from my hometown all the way here. I’ve only stop to sleep and eat.”

“You are in big hurry?”

“Yes, he would be waiting for me.”

“Ah…your man waiting for you?”

Anna managed a chuckled, “Not my man…my best friend. I have brought something for him from home.”

Oni sat up, jotted by something that had cross his mind, “Your friend…his name is Ee Van?”

Anna smiled, “Yes, his name is Evan.”

A broad smile lighted up Oni’s face, “We have same friend. He is also my friend. You must be Annabel?”

“Just call me Anna,” she replied. “Evan told you about me?”

“He say his friend would come to visit. He always happy when he tell me about you.”

“Really?”

Oni did not reply but just looked at her. Studying the lines on her face and the way her hair fell round the oval face that framed her brown eyes. He turned away and stared at the mountains.

“He very fond of you especially when talking to you on phone. I visit him one night, the night he talk to you on phone. He happy. Always looking at picture on his desk. The two of you together. He say picture was taken before he left and he waiting for you to come visit.”

Anna bit her lip as she held back her thoughts and her tears.

“He waiting for you. Good you come. He happy.”

“I know. I should come earlier but I couldn’t.”

Oni turned to face her and smiled warmly, “You love Evan?”

Anna sat up and turned her gaze away. The question was blunt and direct and out of the blue and to a certain extent she felt embarrassed. This Tibetan knew more than he should and had the nerve to pry into how she felt towards Evan. After all the years she and Evan have been friends never once did she consider how she felt towards him beyond the nuance of normal friendship. Yet as she made this journey to seek him, she had time to reflect on how she really felt. To finally confront her true feelings and Oni’s question was not out of place but rather most appropriate. What motivated her to be here in the first place? What pushed her to go the extra mile to see this journey to completion?

Anna, why are you here?

They had met casually, he had been a team-leader for a school project group and she had asked for his help. She cannot remember what the problem was but one thing lead to another and eventually they became committed friends. He had a subtle, quiet quality in his character that cushioned her impulsive nature. She had to admit, he was her emotional punching bag. Putting up with her tumultuous personal life and demands. Her life was a chaotic mess where the only constant was Evan, her strong, silent and gentle friend.

Again, she heard the chiming if tiny bells carried on the mountain breeze. Only this time Oni seemed to hear it too and directed his attention towards the hill before them.

“Prayer flags,” he said reverently.

He slid off the boulder and gestured to Anna to do the same. Anna followed and the two walked briskly up the hill and as they cross over the crest, she saw them. Hundreds of white, red, yellow, triangular prayer flags on long poles gathered round a derelict stupa, fluttering in the wind.

“Each flag is written with a prayer and the prayer would be taken to heaven by the blowing mountain wind. I think someone put bells on one of them,” Oni said.

“They are beautiful,” Anna pointed towards the stupa. “What do they pray for?”

“Many things. Healing, prosperity, hope, love. People pray for many things. Heaven listens to prayers.”

“Evan told me,” Anna whispered as she gazed on the sight of hundreds of flags, “If you pray here, heaven listens to your prayers.”

“He say to me also,” Oni said. “He very good man. Heaven listen to him.”

“Yes.”

“Huh?”

“Yes. I love him and I come here to tell him.”

“Then heaven heard his prayer,” Oni looked up to the sky and smiled. “He will say the same thing to you.”

“Don’t you think it’s too late?”

“He understands.”

Anna took her time taking pictures of the prayer flags. It is not often you could see Tibetan prayer flags in their true element. She had noticed some in Kuching but they were transplanted there by some Tibetan Buddhist and though beautiful, they did not flutter in the wind. In a way, it defeated the purpose for the prayer flags if they did not have wind to blow on them and here in the Himalayans, the flags were in full glory. Fluttering away in the wind on the roof of the world carrying the prayers of Tibetans towards the mountains where their gods lived.

A tap on her shoulder from Oni reminded Anna that it was time to leave the flags and head to her final destination. It was getting dark and Oni seemed anxious. The night brought out bandits and two were no match against a gang of desperate robbers.

The two made their way swiftly down the hill and finding the dirt road again, they followed it until they caught sight of the little houses of the town, sticking out like little white boxes scattered among black granite and bordered by trees to the east and the mountains to the north. The white walls of the buildings shimmered gold, bathed by rays of the setting sun. A small stream cut along the south end and ran through its centre feeding the villagers and keeping the life-stock fit and well. It was peaceful and serene just as Evan had described it to her. He had made it his home and now she would too.

“Beautiful?” Oni asked, walking alongside her as they walked down the road towards the edge of the village.

“Yes. Exactly as he told me.”

 

He led her to the school and the happy caretaker welcomed them. They could finally rest and drink hot tea. The school was a modest wooden building, with white walls and blue shuttered windows. It served as part school, part community centre for the village. Everything from dental clinics to sewing classes was organized within its four walls. There was also a yard where the children could play soccer or just run in the dirt and where Anna imagined Evan must have taught the children to play basketball.

Anna could understand why Evan loved the place. He had made his first trip to Nepal as a teenager, part of a group of young men and women looking for opportunities to serve improvised communities. He was the only one from that group of thirty who took the challenge a step ahead and set up the school. It was a project he was enthusiastic about, it was the one thing that would bring a twinkle to his eye each time it came round as a topic for discussion. Anna remembered those discussions, Evan had the knack of bringing up the topic of the school in every conversation he had with people.

Initially, she had found it embarrassing but eventually, seeing how passionate he was about it, it dawned upon her that he had found meaning to his life. This was his life’s work, to help a small community on the roof of the world. This was his life’s song and it was a song he sang loud and clear.

It was their last chat on the phone that had prompted her to make the trip to the school.

“I’m sending it via email, if I could get this darn satellite phone to work properly. You would receive it by tomorrow. Now remember what I told you to do with the file? Check the page setup, it should be B5, so the formatting doesn’t go haywire.”

“Don’t worry, Evan. I’ll get it done. I’ve done it before, remember? So leave it to me.”

“Ok, I trust you. Remember; make a copy of the file. This is the final draft. I may have only one shot at sending it whole. There’s a freak storm blowing into this area in a couple of days.”

Anna rolled her eyes, “I’ve got it covered. Ok? So when are you coming back?”

“I’m not sure but probably by next week.”

“And if you can’t?”

“Anna, I will come to you. I will.”

Anna gripped the phone, “Well, if you can’t, then I’ll go to you.”

“You would? Great! You would love it here. Just come. I’ll be here.”

She could hear him chuckle over the phone, happy that she would make an effort to visit him and it felt right. It felt right that she would come to him. For that night after the phone call as she lay in bed, underneath the checkered blanket her mum gave her for her birthday, Anna started to cry for she began to realized how much she missed him. Missed his face, missed his smile, missed the way she felt when he gazed into her eyes when he had something to tell her. She felt a twitching in her, a hollow feeling at the very thought he was so far from her. She had been a fool, afraid to really admit the fact.

Yes, I love you Evan. I’ve always loved you. I’ve come to you and I just want you to know how much you mean to me.

 

“Anna?”

“Yes?” It was Oni.

“Ready?”

“Yes, let’s go.”

 

A crooked old tree stood atop a hill, adjacent to the school. It’s branches ravaged by countless blizzards, it’s bark scarred yet it stood strong and resilient. It was here that Oni lead Anna to and in the cool of the evening as the sun set and cast a golden shade across everything on the land, it was here that Evan waited for her.

It was here that Anna journey would come to an end.

“It’s beautiful,” Anna turned towards Oni, who stood silent next to her.

The Twin Mountains before them and the village behind them, all could be seen from their vantage point. The green of the trees and grass and shimmering waters of the stream beautifully balanced the cold dark blue and white of the mountains.

“Evan’s favorite place.”

Anna nodded and taking a small book from the sling bag she was carrying, she bent forward and placed it at the base of the tree.

“Evan, I’m here and you would have wanted this,” she said, running her fingers over the name carved onto the tree trunk.

EVAN PAUL

“I’m sorry. I should have come earlier. I should have been here with you and I could have told you how I feel. Your book is ready; I brought a copy for you. Now, the world would know about your work here. How you’ve made a difference in people’s lives. I should have told you earlier but I was too afraid to say it. I love you. Love you all this time. I should have told you earlier.”

Oni turned to Anna and gently placed his hand on her shoulder, “Evan loved you too. Very much.”

“Then what fools we have been. We should have told each other. We should have just let each other know.”

“Anna, there are times two people can be in love with each other, bring great happiness to each other and complete each other without having to say one word. Their hearts and souls are in love even when they would believe they are just best friends. They don’t have to be a couple to be in love. The act of being there for one another, being strong when the other is weak or hurting when the other is hurt shows the depth of their love. It is a love as strong as the mountains yet are fluid as the stream. It is a love that is a mystery in itself. It is highly prized but only comes to a select few.”

Anna tucked a stray hair behind her ears and wiped her cheeks. Life was funny, in a serendipitous way she had found what she had longed for all her life. Someone to love yet she did not noticed he was right under her nose and when she finally decided to confront how she really felt, she had lost him forever.

“I’m here now and I believe Evan would have wanted me to carry on his work. To bear his passion and share the love he had for the people he helped,” she said softly.

“Evan would watch over you. His prayers are in the wind of the mountains and the winds blow strong. His prayers will always be with you. He will always be with you.”

Anna nodded and gaze lovingly at the tree where her best friend’s name was carved. Here under the tree, laid the man she loved, the one she had cried for the day she heard he had been killed in an accident on the mountain road they had walked along that very day. Here laid the man who found his place among the mountains and in her heart; he would have been overjoyed to see her there.

“I’ve come to you. Evan, I’ve come to you,” Anna whispered, while the mountain air blew against her face, her eyes closed and cheeks wet with tears and in the distance you can hear the fluttering of a prayer flag and the chiming of tiny bells.

 

THE END

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10 Responses to I’ll Come To You – Short Story

  1. Esther says:

    Thank you for writing such a beautiful story and with fantastic descriptions of the land. There is so much truth in what the story says about love. I have a few friends that I love that I would probably decide to continue their work if something happened to them. I also believe that too many times I have denied my true feelings. This story just made it that much clearer for me that I need to be more honest with myself and with those I love about what they mean to me. Oh and you made me a bit verklempt at the end there. Thank you. -Esther

    http://esthernow.wordpress.com

  2. Wonderful story. To learn even more about the Sherpas of the region, read Beyond the Summit by Linda LeBlanc.
    Sherpas are the true heroes of Everest. Without their assistance, very few would reach the summit. To learn more about this amazing tribe, read Beyond the Summit by Linda LeBlanc. Details of Sherpa culture and religion are interwoven in a tale of romance and high adventure. The story has something for everyone: a love affair between an American journalist and Sherpa guide, conflict between generations as the modern world challenges centuries of tradition, an expedition from the porter’s point of view.

    Below are selections from reviews. To read the complete ones and excerpts go to http://www.beyondthesummit-novel.com

    Beyond the Summit, is the rare gem that shows us the triumphs and challenges of a major climb from the porter’s point of view. The love of two people from diverse cultures is the fiery centerpiece of a novel that leads its readers through harshly beautiful and highly dangerous territory to the roof of the world. Malcolm Campbell, book reviewer

    Conflict and dialog keep this gripping story of destiny, romance and adventure moving from the first page to the last paragraph. LeBlanc has a genius for bonding her readers and her characters. I found I was empathizing in turn with each character as they faced their own personal crisis or trauma.
    Richard Blake for Readers Views.

    A gripping, gut-twisting expedition through the eyes of a porter reveals the heart and soul of Sherpas living in the shadows of Everest. EverestNews.com

    A hard-hitting blend of adventure and romance which deserves a spot in any serious fiction collection. Midwest Book Review

    LeBlanc is equally adept at describing complex, elusive emotions and the beautiful, terrifying aspect of the Himalayan Mountains. Boulder Daily Camera

    LeBlanc’s vivid description of the Himalayas and the climbing culture makes this a powerful read. Rocky Mt News Pick of the Week

    A rich adventure into the heart of the Himalayan Kingdom. Fantastic story-telling from one who has been there. USABookNews.com

    This is the book to read before you embark on your pilgrimage to Nepal. The author knows and loves the people and the country, and makes you feel the cold thin air, the hard rocks of the mountains, the tough life of the Sherpa guides, and you learn to love them too. This is a higly literate, but also very readable book. Highly recommended.”
    – John (college professor)

    Memorable characters and harrowing encounters with the mountains keep the action moving with a vibrant balance of vivid description and dialog. Literary Cafe Host, Healdsburg, CA

    This superbly-crafted novel will land you in a world of unimaginable beauty, adventure, and romance. The love story will keep you awake at night with its vibrant tension and deep rich longing. Wick Downing, author of nine novels

    Such vividly depicted images of the Everest region and the Sherpa people are the perfect scenario for the romance and adventure feats narrated. It’s a page-turner, so engrossing you end up wanting to visit Nepal! Not just novel, but perfect for those seeking to get acquainted with the culture of this country.
    By Claudia Fournier (América, Bs. As., Argentina)

    Available through Barnes and Noble, Borders, amazon.com, Chesslerbooks.com, and the web site

  3. yeah. a SHORT story. very sweet tho. : D

  4. Terry Finley says:

    Great story.
    Thank you.

    I want to post it on
    my blog.

  5. bdq says:

    i love it mac!!!

  6. Alex says:

    I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you down the road!

  7. AlexM says:

    Your blog is interesting!

    Keep up the good work!

  8. jackson says:

    can u write the characters, plot, theme, settings and values? I m learning short story. i want to know .

  9. Maclean Patrick says:

    There is1 main character – Anna while Oni is a supporting character along with Evan.

    The plot is a journey by Anna to meet Evan. I described that journey and the things Anna sees along the way.

    The Theme is on Love in a friendship.

    Settings – the Himalayans

    Values – Love, friendship, servicing other people, loyalty.

    In a short short story, you must be able to chose the correct words to best describe what you want the reader to know. A short story cannot be draggy or else the reader will lose interest.

  10. gbam says:

    such a beautiful story.

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