The Call of the Mountain

By Sam Neumann

Action & adventure, Thriller

Paperback, eBook

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1 mins

Chapter 1

It was a Friday morning in the summer when I left her. I was tired, she was hysterical, and that was the way things went.

“I’m sorry,” I told her through my open car window. Her black hair was frizzy in the New York humidity, makeup running down her face, just wanting to know why. Give her one good reason. I didn’t, because I couldn’t, but even if I could’ve, it wouldn’t have helped. She clutched the car door and screamed in my face.

“I’m sorry,” I said again. “I love you.”

She tried to punch me through the window. I put the car in gear. It was the way things went.

I didn’t like it. It wasn’t something I’d planned on doing. I was a failed husband, maybe a failed man. These were serious charges, I knew, but at the time they were only uncomfortable. I meant it when I said I loved her, and on some level I knew I was an idiot. This surely wasn’t fair to her; it was downright improper, and borderline cruel, and this was the fact that made it hardest for me to leave. This was the thing that almost made me stay, in spite of everything else. 
But in the end it didn’t matter. There was still love, but the love had changed. The love was different. The love didn’t matter as much anymore. At one point the love would have kept me, but not now. The love wasn’t love; it had turned to something else. Where love had been was something different, something we and the rest of the world still called love, but wasn’t.

So I left. Because I was trapped. And because being trapped with something vaguely resembling love wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough for me, and someday she would learn it wasn’t enough for her, either. 

Megan kicked the side of the door as I drove away, then threw her latte into the rear windshield. The cup exploded and splashed caramel-colored liquid over the glass. I made a mental note to clean it when I got out of town.
The sun beat down on the streets of Upper Manhattan, and soon I was sweating through my oxford. But I didn’t turn on the air conditioning; I opened the windows, and took in the sounds and smells of that godforsaken city one last time. The jackhammers and car horns and the smells of hot garbage and car exhaust. I rolled the windows down farther, all the way to the bottom, and let it all in. Let all of that shit in, to permeate the dashboard and the leather seats and my sweaty blue shirt. To sink into my skin, and stay there for a while, to remind me of what I left.
Soon I was driving that Mercedes-Benz across the Hudson, then through Jersey and across I-78. Before long I would be riding the freeway across Pennsylvania, with the windows down and my sleeves rolled up. I was headed west, and if I had any say in the matter, I would not be coming back.



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