Catriona’s husband is so disappointed at not being able to see into the canyon that he almost stamps his feet like a child. In fact, the effort not to behave childishly is so great that, for a moment or so, he is unable to move at all.
After forcing his way through the crowd gathered in front of the railing and securing a place at the edge he had leant forward and gazed down only to find the view entirely obscured by the grey mist.
Catriona watches him now as, resisting the urge to stamp and curse, he lurches stiffly amid the swell of unhappy tourists. She hasn’t any choice but to follow.
A man is holding court at the centre of the crowd and she assumes at first he is a guide of some sort but, drawing closer, she quickly realises that he is one of them, a sightseer. The only difference is that he has been here for longer, for months in fact, and that he has seen many times what they cannot and probably will not be able to see.
Only half listening, Catriona studies this self-appointed Shamen and his attentive audience, her husband amongst them, hanging on his every word.
The mist, the man informs them, can lift in a matter of minutes.
‘Really?’ she blurts it out, regretting it instantly as all the disappointed faces now turn toward her. ‘It is so thick, it really could lift just like that? So quickly, so dramatically?’
‘Oh yeah’. The man pauses waiting for his audience to re-focus. ‘Oh, yeah, it can all change in the time it takes to bend down and tie a shoelace. This place – it really is that dramatic.’
‘How long has it been like this?’, Catriona asks.
‘Couple of weeks. I won’t try and kid you, it’s unlikely that it’ll clear today’. He scans the crowd and exhales heavily before continuing. ‘You’ll be able to see a little more from higher up and there is a great viewpoint west of here. It’s about twenty miles or so but you’ll need a car. The buses don’t take you that far.’
‘We don’t have a car,’ her husband says softly.
‘And we have to leave this afternoon on the coach,’ she adds.
The others have begun to clamour for directions and, shrugging his shoulders, the Shamen turns toward those with cars.
Catriona and her husband sit on a bench at the edge of the car park and watch as the exodus now begins in earnest. One man grabs his wife by the arm and drags her along. ‘Come on’, he says, ‘let’s go, we’re wasting time here’.

They walk alongside the canyon and the mist is like a lid. Where the path has crumbled they cling onto the rocks, clambering precariously. Catriona is in front, her husband has insisted on this but if she were to stumble and fall he couldn’t possibly save her and together they would topple down into the abyss.
Catriona wonders if, like her, he is tempted to reach out into the clouds for purchase.
‘It’s like a lid,’ she calls to him, ‘the mist is like a lid.’
She is forced to a halt in front of a large flat rock but the ground is stable enough that they can turn and lean against it. Catriona studies him in profile as he scrutinises the cliff face.
‘How did we get here?’ she asks.
‘I have no idea,’ he replies blankly.
She starts to laugh, it escapes from her unbidden and when he turns his head, for the first time in what feels like an age, she looks him squarely in the face, laughing all the more to see him look so puzzled.




10 thoughts on “THE CANYON

  1. Miranda Stone July 11, 2014 / 10:55 pm

    The dialogue is very well written here, Mark, and the story flows well. Great job!

    • markrenney2 July 13, 2014 / 7:42 pm

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, Miranda. It means a great deal to me. Regards Mark.

  2. Tony Single July 12, 2014 / 12:04 am

    “They walk alongside the canyon and the mist is like a lid.”

    It’s phrases like this that keep me coming back. I could absolutely see that in my mind’s eye!

    • markrenney2 July 13, 2014 / 7:44 pm

      Sometimes a phrase will jump into your head and you know you have a good one but maybe I over-egged with this one because I did use it three times…thanks Tony.

  3. j.h. white July 12, 2014 / 1:26 am

    Love the range of subtleties here, Mark.

    • markrenney2 July 13, 2014 / 7:45 pm

      Thanks so much Jana!

  4. chrisnelson61 July 12, 2014 / 12:38 pm

    This works really well on different levels, Mark, which makes it a great piece of writing. It is effective as a straight forward tale, and also as a commentary on relatioships. However, I think that is also an excellent story which questions the nature of Faith and Belief. I love the self-appointed Shaman with his proclamation that ‘life could change at any moment (the promise of Faith)’ tempered with the fact that ‘it has been like this for a long time (the Reality of existance)’
    Marvellous work, Mark, and thanks for sharing it.

    • markrenney2 July 13, 2014 / 7:47 pm

      That is a really interesting interpretation, Chris, and I have to admit not one I intended but, wow, and thanks for sharing it.

  5. Pam Huggins July 12, 2014 / 3:29 pm

    Beautiful! Your writing always draws me in.
    Jeff and I visited a tourist site on Thursday, Ruby Falls, and descended down over 1000 feet underground, then proceeded to spend two hours cramped inside a cave with hundreds of people- all of us waiting to see the falls. Shuffling, not walking for a half mile to the Empire State height falls- only to be disappointed because how could any site live up to that kind of buildup? And me, wanting for all I was worth to scream and wail and lose my mind but unwilling to draw the attention to myself. So I numbed out and shut down and tried to focus on nothing.
    The next day, Friday, I was severely depressed, nearly suicidal, but not really, just felt so. Out of character for me and I couldn’t understand it until we looked at the photos last night, Jeff and I, and I saw from afar what I had been through for real and I laughed hysterically, unfettered by constraints. I poured tears and wept joyfully for life and being untrapped.
    Your writing evokes these things. Thank you.

    • markrenney2 July 13, 2014 / 7:52 pm

      Thanks Pam. Christine and I have had some weird and surreal experiences at tourist spots and Heritage sites so your recent trip echoes with us. Glad you enjoyed this one. Regards Mark.

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