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The Only People Left in the World by Allison Kallemeyn

artwork by Amelia Griffin


“Are you guys ready to go inside?” I ask, looking left and right at my friends. Both of them shake their heads in disagreement. We grin and agree to hit the slope for the last time. I've spent today, my seventeenth birthday, hurdling down freezing, icy mountains and falling or sliding down the steeper hills. And yet, despite the pain aching in my bones and the tingling numbness of my nose, I don’t want the day to end.

The three of us dig our poles into the thick, plush snow and push off. We swoop to one side and then the other. We’ve spent the majority of our day zigging and zagging our way down Old Main. I’d sledded down the diamond slopes on my backside earlier, so by the end, I just wanted to ski the safe and comfortable option. After the initial downhill, we curve around with the bend of surrounding pine trees all dusted in powdery snow. I stop near the top where the mountain steepens, take in a deep breath of the frigid fresh air, and peer out over the winter wonderland in front of me. The towering pine trees on the horizon cover the solid frozen river below us. The sky has begun turning a deep dusty blue while small stars begin to peek out and illuminate our pathway.

Carissa and Tori both pass me, soaring down the hill. I push off one ski to attempt to catch up. Leaning forward and bending my knees I wind back and forth gaining speed as I go. But as I glide quicker and quicker I think to myself, “I wish this could be in slow motion.” It ends way too fast.

I come to a slow stop at the mountain's base, pushing my skis apart and spraying snow up my sides. My friends trudge onward toward the ski lift lines. Oddly enough, not one person waits before or behind us to ride back up. As we slide up to the swinging, floating benches, it scoops us up from behind and immediately relief floods me. My ankles and knees ache, maybe from the cold, from falling, or perhaps from overusing my joints all day.

We ascend the side of the mountain as the lift slowly and wobbly guides us up. My goggles fog from my hot breath flooding my ski mask. I take them off and place them up on my head. For a moment, while my vision refocuses, the world has a disorienting blue tint. I listen to the squeaking of the lift’s pulley system and the clanking together of our skis as they dangle below.

Tori pauses the quiet when she says, “It sort of feels like we are the only people left in the world right now.”

Looking out over the resort, I realize very few people are still skiing. It appears that the world has gone to sleep. Only the dull lights in the resort windows and the tall lamps lining the mountains remind me that we haven’t been left or forgotten in the continuous loop of the ski lift until morning.

Instead of feeling alone or finding it strange to be amid such an empty expanse of mountains and snow, I find a sort of restfulness. Nothing can possibly trouble me. Everything else melts away and only the falling snow, the mountains, the dim twinkling stars, and my own thoughts linger.

My body still hurts; my fingers have no sensation except a burning, tingling coldness inside my too-thin gloves. If I laid down I would pass out and sleep in a coma for a week. Despite all that, I don’t want this night to end because I know when the night finishes we will rack up our skis, fall into bed, and have to wake up the next morning to drive home. We will be left to deal with school, homework, sports, and everything else. Every other responsibility I don’t want to worry about.

I try to push tomorrow’s problems from my head because as much as I try to fight it, time and life move on. This brings the illustrious saying to mind: all good things must come to an end. Instead of dwelling, I settle in with the fact that right now I am one of three people left in the world. That thought crosses my mind as the lift reaches the slope's peak and we ready our poles for landing. Pushing off we slide closer to the lodge and closer to the end of that glimmer of perfect peace.

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