Ken Talley is the Readers’ Choice in this week’s Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Challenge. The winning entry is decided by the popular vote and rewarded with a special feature here today. (In the case of a tie, the writer who submitted an entry first is the winner per our rules.) Without further ado, here’s the winning story:
by Ken Talley
The two older hikers halted at the viewpoint, winded, failing to notice the majesty of the view. Tom caught his breath first and took in the timbered ravine before them and, far off in the distance, the glacier shining in the sun on the distant mountain.
“Remember?” said Tom to his wife of fifty years who sat on a slab of rock, her head between her knees, her heart racing and her breath faltering. “This is where we camped on that first backpack way back when.”
Elly looked up at Tom, sweat glistening on her face. She shook her head and didn’t even try to speak. “Breathe deep,” said Tom. “Slow and easy.”
“Slow is what I am, for sure,” said Elly in a broken voice. “We’ve come a long way.”
“Today?” asked Tom. He sat down next to Elly and put his arm around her bent shoulders. “I’m not sure we came all that far, but it seemed like it.”
“I mean you and me,” said Elly, her breath easing slightly. “We’ve come a long way. And I’m not sure I can even appreciate the view.”
“Of the mountains?” asked Tom. “Or what about that glacier?” He pointed to the glaring snow in the far distance.”
Elly smiled at the old man sitting next to her. “Us,” she said. “Fifty years. Winded. Limping. But we got here.”
Tom’s leathery face creased in a happy smile. “Majestic,” he said.
“The mountain?” asked Elly.
“No,” said Tom, laughing quietly. “Us.”