The package was heavy. He could have carried it in his pack, but soon enough he knew that he would be laying it down, and his heart would feel the ache of his empty arms. Instead, he trudged onward. The crags and ledges of the mountains rose on either side of him highlighted by the glitter of ice, and a dusting of snow. So tall they almost blot out the stars.
The last time he was here it had been day, and the sky was pale blue rather than the inky black of now. Instead of his own feet carving a solitary ascent up the glacier, he and Lucy had forged a path together. Two sets of tracks cutting through the crisp snow. Her laughter had rung out like the chime of a church bell on the clean air. He imagined that the sound still lived on somewhere, bouncing through the rocky passages of the mountains and soaring upwards into the air, like a bird.
Her cheeks had been ruddy with the effort of the climb, and her eyes sparkled with the satisfaction of a challenge met. That was his girl, most alive when defying expectations or testing her mettle. He had revelled in her thrill at looking back down over their progress, and his own thrill at the press of the small square box in his pocket. He had been on one knee when she had turned to appreciate the view. When she said yes, her smile had been even more radiant than the glistening snow-capped peaks.
“We should stay up here forever,” she had said. “At night, I bet the stars shine like diamonds.”
He had kissed her, “you would eclipse them all.”
Now he knelt in the snow once more. He imagined it was the same spot. His breath hung in the frigid air as crystalline wisps, and he couldn’t tell if the ache in his lungs was the cold air, the effort of the climb or the emptiness of his heart. He cradled the package to his chest as though he could infuse it with his heart, fill the void, and ease the ache. He said no words as he shrugged off his backpack and stood once more.
The stars had all come out to greet him. She had been right; they were diamonds of the greatest beauty. That was his Lucy. Always proved right in the end. He let her steal a smile from him at that. He opened the urn, and let the wind take her to the stars.
*This was my first entry for the Blank Page Challenge. The featured image was the writing prompt for this one. It wasn’t a winner, but there’s just something about this one that I love.