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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

From the SHOWCASE archives...



Fiction • “How it Always Happens,” by S R Mastrantone •




Celine held her hand up to the horizontal slash in the mountain wall. A soft breeze tickled her palm, barely discernible but for its temperature: much cooler than the arid summer air that had made their week in the Ardèche so torturous.

“What do you think?” Dermot asked. He was standing below her, at the foot of a pile of rocks. The look of boyish expectancy on his face belied the twenty years between them.

Celine’s thudding heart felt like the only organ in her body. She wasn’t in control of the smile that broke out on her face. “I think we’re going to have to stay another week. There’s a cave.”

Most of their equipment was back at the camp. Their final, one-for-the-road walk had meant to be a gesture at best, an excuse to explore the mountains without lugging cumbersome backpacks and waterproofs.

All they had was a battery-powered torch and a helmet; still they began clearing away rocks from the opening.

Isn’t this how it always happens? In all the stories Dermot told in his lectures and in all the books she had read when writing her doctoral thesis, there was always something fortuitous, almost revelatory that preceded a big discovery. Less than a mile away from where they now worked, Jean-Marie Chauvet had literally stumbled across some of the world’s oldest cave paintings and changed the way in which the world related to ancient man.

She put her hands around Dermot’s neck, pulled him toward her and kissed his forehead. When she let go he pulled away looking slightly embarrassed. But she didn’t care. If this wasn’t the moment then there was no such moment.

“Sorry,” she said. “I’m just excited.”

This is how it always happens...

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