Short Stories Collection

Ten Sleeps Wyoming- R’s story

The floorboard creaked, and he muttered under his breath. Stopped in his track and listened. No sound. No other sound but the soft breaths of the others still asleep. He took another step, carefully avoiding the sharp corner of a comforter and stepping on the same creaky old wood.

While grabbing his camera bag, he wished he had the inspiration to charge it the night before. But he had been so engrossed in thoughts; he forgot. It was not the first time lately when he forgot to do things he should have.

It was pitch black outside, the crescent moon just looming over his head, not making his escape easier. Some stars were creeping down between the clouds, winking at him.

Opened and closed the door with one swift move, knowing that if he would have opened it wide, it would hit the chair behind it. The last thing he wanted was to wake them up and have to explain himself. He just wanted to creep out to his escape.

There was a chill in the air, and he revelled at the thought that soon it will be fall. However, until then, there would still be some scorching days to get through.

As he put his camera bag on the passenger’s seat, he took in a good breath, as if to test his lungs. And again, deeper this time, and third time to clear his head as well as his soul. Three was the magic number after all.

The road was empty in front of him and he enjoyed the drive, only seeing some shadows and hills on each side. That moon was bent on not helping him. As he drove with the window down and in total silence, he started to feel more and more like himself, more than he had felt lately.

Being out on the road did that to him and he chastised himself once more for not doing it more often. It was as he had been somehow punishing himself for already being down. The human mind was a true abyss and trying to understand it and make sense of it was a real Sisyphus’ job. Not to mention how exhausting was to always try to understand the whats, the whys and the hows.

He was getting close to his spot. Well, not exactly his spot, but he has been there before and he had seen the beauty. That would reboot his mood and would make him crawl out of that depression hole he has dug for himself a while ago. Or so he hoped. Manoeuvred his car carefully off the road, on to the not so beaten path and, after a while, he stops. The moment he killed the lights, he found himself surrounded by darkness. But with every second his eyes grew more accustomed to the little light coming from above, throwing shadows all around him. He could make out the shapes of the rolling hills and, even if he could not see them properly, he knew they were of many, many colours from the red soil to the green of the trees and bushes that were sprinkled here and there in a playful contrast.

As the morning began to break, he felt chills of excitement crawling under his skin, making him shiver.

When the first sun ray touched the ground, the reds have exploded. Ochre, umber, burnt sienna, terra rossa as he knew it from the Renaissance paintings.

Within a few moments he could see the horizon, still muddied, still sleepy, but there, at his fingertips. He took his camera out and took a photo. The sun rays rested on the hill in front of him, lightning it up as it was on fire. The valley beneath it held the village still asleep. Even the name of the village was somehow connected. Ten Sleeps Wyoming. Population of 300. And his mind went straight to the “How Ten Sleeps Got its name” post, and that made him chuckle. Some things will never stop being funny. And people from the past really had a dry sense of humour well hidden in platitudes. Only children these days would count the time to an event by counting sleeps. And that was quite funny.

He could now see clearly the Signal Cliff and wondered what would have looked like back in the days when communication was not done through invasive technology that occupied 23.5 hours of your day but was only used for that… communicating important, vital, and meaningful information.

That place did not change for thousands and thousands of years. People have come and people have gone, from Sioux tribes to pioneers, to the modern man… From people manoeuvring bows and arrows to people manoeuvring lassos and then smartphones and climbing gear. They were all little flies, living for a second, marvelling at the sight, and then disappearing. But what a sight!

Looking like a painting, the Ten Sleeps Canyon was a timeless beauty, and he was blessed to have seen it. Not just once in his life, but twice. And he was grateful for his eyes to see what he was seeing, for his legs to take him places, for his mind to make him think and remember, for his soul to crave adventure. He was grateful for the means to travel and to explore. For the stories he had found all those years of his life and for all those that were on the way. He was humbled by the thought that he was undeserving, and yet so showered with beauty.

He felt himself being part of something bigger than him. Being part of the Sioux tribes and of the pioneers’ caravans, the cowboys’ journeys and the small villagers living the hardship of life, there, in the midst of it all. In the midst of eternity.

He took another deep breath in and, when the sun finally fell on his face; he felt happy.

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