Jurica is currently a student at the University of Zagreb, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. An amateur writer and a football fan.
The Tallest Hill
To Ma. Elysha Lapascua Vagilidad,
who brought me to the top.
Once a long time ago, there was a man who hated life. He hated all other people because he said they were stupid. He hated waking up and going to sleep. He hated the smell of flowers, and the flow of the wind. He hated rivers and oceans, nights and days, he hated everything.
He was living on his own and cut off from the rest of the world. He had no friends, no family. When he woke up, he used to say, "Another day..." and he took a deep breath.
He lived near a river, which was close to a hill. The river was long, and the hill was tall. The hill and river were separated by a huge park. The park was really beautiful and had tons of kids playing there every day. It also consists of many beautiful kinds of flowers and old trees. The trees lined up in a row. You could see so many natural resources which looked really impressive. Elderly people came to the park and sat on the benches under the warm sun. Lovers would come at night and hold each other so tight while lying on the field looking up staring at the stars. Everyone admired the park's beauty, except one. The man who hated everything. He hated the park. Even in Spring, when the most beautiful kinds of flowers are in bloom.
He walked by it every day on his way to the sea shore and looked at it in disguise. On it, there was a bench. No one ever sat on that bench, except him. He spent many days on it, just sitting. It was an old wooden bench, and had something carved on it- three words, "close your eyes," so he did this. He would sit every day with his eyes closed, thinking about things that bothered him. Mostly it was human stupidity. As he was sitting and thinking, many people passed by him. People he hated so much, for all their stupidity.
He was a very sad man, indeed; behind all the hatred he showed and the now subconscious efforts to repel people. He hoped that when he closed his eyes as what the bench says, he would be relieved and when he opened them, it would be better. Hoping that something would change in his life. But nothing did!
The hill stretched just opposite the river from his bench. He could look at it if he had his eyes open. The hill was very tall, covered with forest. There was a narrow pathway leading up to the top. Every month many people tried climbing the hill to the top, because it was rumored that every day the sun never stops smiling there. Even at night, the moon is always shining brightly. Only a few people managed to climb it each month since it was so tall. But people that failed returned every month to try once again to reach the top. Sometimes, their hope to be on top ended in tears, but they never gave up; unlike the man, who never even tried to make it to the top.
He always said, "Well, it's pointless to try 'cause I won't make it!" So he never did. One day though, in his sadness and despair while sitting on his bench all alone, he heard a group of people talking. "We must try to reach the top this time. Yeah, I heard it's very beautiful." They were giggling and laughing as they passed. He heard all of them well and clearly, and something broke in him. He decided to try and make a journey to the top. Yes, stupid people go there, and yes, it's a complete waste of time. But..... he will try! Just this once, just to see what's so special at the top.
So he stood up and left the bench, and walked towards a small wooden bridge. He crossed the river and suddenly, he realized he had never crossed the river before. When he came to the bottom of the hill, he looked up. He couldn't see the top from there, it was covered in fog. The path to the top was narrow and winding. The task was simple: follow the path to the top. The tricky part was that it was a very long way up. There was a quicker way to the top, but a more dangerous one. It as well was quite simple: do not follow the path, instead head straight up through the forest. But, it was well known that many different species of snakes lived in the forest.
One particularly interesting story about the hill was going around.
It was said that two men, best friends, tried to climb the hill every month. They always went together following the path, but never made it. Forty-nine times they have tried and forty-nine times they failed. The 50th time they decided to take separate routes. One friend decided he was fed up with failing and was going through the forest. While the other decided to stick to the path. So they both began to climb. The first friend was bitten by a snake and soon died on his way up. The second friend got to the top that same day.
The man, having heard the story, decided to follow the path. He began walking the path. After a few hundred meters, he didn't feel exhausted at all. It seemed very simple and easy. Some people in front of him had slowed down. He even heard one group saying they couldn't walk any further anymore. They decided to rest and turn back. "What is wrong with these people?" he thought. They're not only stupid, they also seem weak willed. He had no problem climbing the hill. Now he felt superior to the others. "It's just so easy," he said.
However, shortly after, he felt tired and had to stop walking for a second. He felt so confused, "Why am I tired so suddenly?" The top was barely visible at this point, but he just couldn't continue. He had simply run out of gas!
While he was standing there, in the middle of the narrow path trying to regain his lost energy, he looked around. Quite a few others were exhausted as well. So... just keep moving on. Right and left of the path, in the dark green forest, he could see some people trying to get to the top. They were walking noticeably faster, and it seemed a lot easier. Tempting to try! But, as he looked closer, he couldn't help but notice the dead people laying on the ground. At first, he was in shock and asked himself why does no one pick them up? What's wrong in here? So he shouted, "There are dead people in the forest!" But no one paid any attention to him. No one even looked in his direction. It was so confusing. He felt even more cut off than he's ever been.
However, this scene somehow gave him more energy to continue his way up. But he didn't get very far. He felt exhaustion kick in again after only a few steps. Nothing made sense to him at this point. Why can't he just continue? Why are there dead people in the forest? Why is no one paying attention? Those were the questions that bothered him now. It was all very strange on this hill. But he was determined to keep going on. As soon as he was able to get to the top, that is. He won't quit now!
Right next to him he noticed a girl. She was exhausted as well, trying to catch her breath. "Hi there," was all she managed to say after she noticed he was staring at her.
He took a long, closer look at her. She was pretty, yes, no doubt. But there was something else... something new. A feeling he had never felt before. But he wasn't sure right away. He was still confused.
"Hi," he decided to respond. There was more he wanted to say but wasn't sure he should.
She smiled at him and said something he didn't hear because he was so fascinated by her voice. It was soft like the softest silk and had him stunned. However, he shook his head and came back to reality.
"....the top?" He caught only the end of her question. He assumed she was asking if he wanted to continue to the top with her. At least, he was hoping that was it. So he replied, with a big smile, "Sure!"
He had assumed right, she wanted to continue with him to the top. Her hand reached for his'. Then he remembered he was too exhausted to climb any further. The thought saddened him. He looked in her deep black eyes and said quietly, " I can't, I'm too tired." He was ashamed he had said it. But, unexpectedly, she replied " It's okay, come with me. It will be easier if we go together."
She grabbed his arm, her fingers knotted through his'. For the first time, he felt so happy. A warm strange feeling overwhelmed his heart. He held her hand closely and tightly. They continued to walk, this time, together, and strangely it was easier. He wasn't tired anymore. They looked at each other and smiled. Soon they came to the top.
There were only a few people up on top. Most of them were couples, but some of them were alone. One man wrote in the sand in front of him "50". The man smiled, so this is it then. He felt no hatred anymore. He just held her hand firmly, opened his eyes as wide as he could, and looked at the sun. It had never shone brighter!
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© 2017 Jurica Babic