Saturday Short: Across the Ridgeline

Photography looking across the ridgeline to the horizon with lots of trees“I hate walking the ridgeline, Dad,” Martin said kicking a pebble on the trail off into the brush with the toe of his dusty boot. “Can’t we send someone else?”

His father looked down at him, shading his eyes with one hand against the strengthening late morning sun. “And who would you have go in your stead?” He didn’t wait for an answer and resumed walking his long-legged gait that wasn’t hurried, but wasn’t slow either.

Martin glared across the ridgeline for  a moment longer before following. He couldn’t send anyone else in his place. It was his duty to walk the ridgeline, just like it was his father’s. Inheritance was cruel that way. It was boring, dirty, and hard–three things that didn’t do much to recommend it. He had wished for any other job, but such was his lot. Walking the ridgeline where every day was the same.

His father halted in front of him, causing Martin to stumble before he was pulled down to his knees on the trail. An overhanging branch scratched at his face.

“What the–” Martin began, but was cut short by his father’s weathered palm against his mouth.

His father pointed two fingers of his other hand at his eyes, then gestured across the ridgeline. Martin followed and gasped.

At the edge of his vision he saw a glinting light, a reflection off something that shouldn’t be. Martin’s heart flipped and his mouth went dry.

“Go,” his father said. “Get back to town and stay below the treeline.”

“What about you?”

“I’m gonna’ get closer.”

His father began moving and disappeared into the brush before Martin could even open his mouth to protest or say goodbye. Suddenly all he wanted was boring. Amazing how wishes changed.