There were three mountains: Jon, eyes wide like an infant; Rajat, a chest as wide as continents; and demure Damien, sloping at the hips. All three wore pristine, snowy robes, patched in places by congregating rocks, needled by the gaunt and gangly pines. Together, the three would sup above the lake and meditate to the whistling of the wind. Jon would always face the sky, his gaping maw wide, swallowing the clouds. Rajat stood astride the forests like a Colossus, a giant of a rock. Sad Damien knew very little how to meditate; sometimes, he would imitate the chiseled face of Rajat, sometimes follow the placid gaze of Jon. Like a school boy learning to be a man, he wandered and wondered awfully much. And, much like boys trying to impress, would suck in his bulbous tummy until the faintest humor struck him, then would collapse in rocky giggles. They fell like too-fat raindrops into the lake below.
The birds flustered, the wind kicked up, and Rajat scowled at Damien’s insouciance. They were like a father and a son, or two divergent brothers loving one another despite their oppositeness. Or because of it.
Usually, they found themselves alone, attuned to rustling wind and the occasional thunder clap. They were kings of the range, and relished their thrones atop the pines, above the restless lake, on the shoulders of the sun. But it became a tedious tenor: living outside of life, above it all. For mountains do not do well at stooping.
Occasionally, a man would stretch his legs out in the lake and float from one shore the other. For Rajat, it seemed like a disturbing violation; his grisly face would stretch its teeth and loom above the waters. But he never left, that man. He would simply wade from shallow to deep under the gentle rays of a warming sun. The sun on whose shoulders sat the mountains.
To Damien, he was beautiful: a shining, flittering thing teasing happiness out of blue. He was a playmate, a friend. And though he could not lean to whisper, could not stretch his arms to play, he was comforted the same. And when the days were long and warm, that young man would come often and shed his clothes. He would swim with his pale white skin and auburn hair. He would dive beneath the surface of the water like a fish, and re-appear before the shore. He would make dear Damien smile, and giggle, and grin.
Rajat fumed whenever his domain was trespassed; he hated that man, he hated the way he swam, the way he moved, the way he grinned and sang as though no one could hear. He wanted him out, forever gone. No more to linger in the lake that was his, beneath the sun whom he befriended first. And so, he began to scheme and stretch. The fissures in his skin grew wider, and his wrinkles deepened. Damien could feel, could see the anger coursing through his rock. And he feared for that man, his friend.
As the summer days were waning, and the sun’s light ebbed, the man came less and less. Rajat—pleased enough to smile—even thought to calm his aching muscles and subdue his gritted teeth. Until, in the final heat of August sun, the man returned—with a lover. And if that bright and cheery person could ever have been happier, it was now: grinning constantly, shining brighter, laughing without reason or end. For in his hand, he held someone so dear and fairer still than he. Both of them came to the foot of that gleening lake, and shed their clothes again. Laughing, tickling, playing, they jumped into the warm, welcoming waters. They splashed each other with the glowing blue and wiggled ’round about each other underneath. They loved each other at the foot of those imposing mountains, and were happy.
But Rajat was not. Was it not enough that one man had come to disturb their peace? Once again, his shoulders heaved, his arms bulged, his face contorted with an angry glare. Even the sun, afraid of what would happen, shied away in the cool of the afternoon.
Though the lovers kept at their game, and Damien smiled down at them. His head cocked to one side, nearly resting on his shoulder, and he daydreamed with a sigh that became the wind.
Soon, the day grew too cold and the sun retreated further from the sky. The laughs continued, and as the two ascended from that lake to dry themselves and dress again, Damien thought they would be spared all the anger of his brother Rajat. No harm would come to them; they would wander fast away, hand in hand, giggling and smiling. And they would not return until next year.
But they did not leave. They gathered their things, and meandering amongst the trees, came to the very foot of the towering three: Jon, eyes wide like an infant; Rajat, a chest as wide as continents; and demure Damien, sloping at the hips. They turned to each other and kissed gently, the final rays of sun lighting their ivory faces. And they turned to climb higher, to see the trees, to see the lake from above, to see the setting sun.
They turned to Jon, but he was lost in sky. They turned to Damien, but he was too small to see the sun. And they turned to the rough-hewn limbs of Rajat, and went their way. They grabbed and clawed up the face of that stern mountain, pausing to pull each other up, pausing to kiss and smile. And when they finally found a ledge on which to rest, to see down below, to watch the waves sail across the face of the lake, to tower above the trees, the wind rested.
Rajat clenched his fists and burnished his muscle: the entire mountain trembled and shook. The fissures grew, and slowly released from his wide, heavy shoulders, boulders careened down his chest, down his stomach, to the ledge on which the two lovers sat, hand in hand. As the great rocks, flung from the body of Rajat the elder, came down upon the love of those two, the weary sun set in a bath of orange fire, atop the pines, above the restless lake.
To this day, no one comes to the water. Rajat is old now, and his face sags with each breath of the wind. And though Damien has grown, his body hangs like a weeping willow, a dark and brooding shadow over the waters. Over the deathbed of two friends, two lovers, to perfect creatures in the sun.
Even the sun herself, on whose shoulders sat the mountain kings three, has left them to the cold. And the trees—evergreen slippers of the slopes—have all but turned to kindling at the shores.