Rob Does Words
Treating fiction poorly since 2019


“You know, no one really knows where those mountains came from,” it was the first thing the man had said and it wasn't as if he had only just got there, he had been sitting at the bar since before Riley had arrived. He wasnt even drinking. Just sitting at the bar, staring into nothing. Until now.

“Uh huh,” Riley said, not really wanting to deal with anyone, especially anyone who was going to harp on about what sounded like Facebook science.

“I’m serious,” the man insisted, spinning to face her. “One day they weren't there, then they were and no one can explain why.”

Riley closed her eyes and took a deep breath, when that wasn't enough to say the words that were begging to be said, she downed the rest of her drink in a single gulp and looked the strange man dead in the eyes. “One day they weren't there, and then the next they were?” she managed to walk the fine line between mockery and scepticism quite well, she thought.

“Hand to heart,” the man said, slapping the wrong side of his chest with his hand. “Overnight. Literally overnight.”

“You're using that word wrong,” she replied.

“Literally: actually, word for word, without exaggeration or inaccuracy,” he looked at her, like a tennis player waiting for the return shot.

“Mountains don't just appear overnight.” Normally she wouldn't engage someone like this, but he didn't seem dangerous, maybe a little off balance, and she knew the bartender here and if this mountain man tried anything too horrible, she'd be fine.

“Not usually, no,” the edge on his voice was far too tempting for her to leave the conversation there.

“So how did these ones do it?” she tried not to smile.

“No one knows!” he shouted triumphantly, throwing his hands in the air and getting dirty looks from the bartender and the half dozen other patrons in the bar. “Sorry,” he almost giggled. “Thats the best part,” he said quieter, almost conspiratorially. “How do mountains just appear?” she shrugged at his rhetorical question and called for another drink, and because she was rather entertained by all this, one for the mountain man too. “Oh no thank you,” he said. “I don't drink.”

Both the bartender and Riley stared at him. “What?” she asked.

“I only come here for the people. Bar people are great.”

“You have to order something,” the bartender said severely, eyeing the door meaningfully.

“Ok ok, fine. Hows your lemon, lime and bitters?” the bartender made him the drink without saying anything and sighed when Riley still picked up the tab. “Thank you,” the mountain man said.

There was a pause in the conversation as the two drank. The bartender wandered down to the other end of the bar to serve some others and the jukebox across the room played some soft 70s rock awkwardly.

Riley stood after a time and started towards the door. It wasn't late, and she had nowhere else to be, but she only popped in here for a drink after work but the rest of the world had been on pause long enough, it was time to get back to it.

“Leaving so soon?” the mountain man asked.

“Real life calls, unfortunately,” she replied hefting her handbag over her shoulder and putting her shoes back on. “Nice talking to you.”

“You as well. Remember about the mountains.”

She sighed. “Mountains are formed over millions of years of tectonic activity,” she recited one of her university textbooks. “They don't appear overnight.”

“Exactly. But a year ago, that's what happened.”

“A year ago?” the two of them had made it to the front entrance. “A year ago?” she was almost yelling at the man at the ridiculousness of it, although he didnt seem to notice.

“Almost to the day, even. No one remembers we used to live on a flat plain.”

“Except you,” she poked him in the chest, half to emphasise her point and half to see if he was even real.

“Lucky me,” he said, looking down at his shoes. “But,” he said quickly, startling her. “if I can get someone else to remember, then it will be worth it.”

“Those mountains have always been there. My parents took me skiing when I was a kid, to the same resort they had gone to when they were kids. Up in those mountains.”

“They're old.”

“Excuse me?”

“The mountains. You're saying they're old.”

"Of course they are; millions of years old.”

“They were old when they were made,” he said this so smugly, as if it proved everything he had been saying.

“What?” was all Riley could manage.

“They appeared a year ago, humour me.”

“Humouring,” she said, with more exasperation than she expected.

“When they appeared, they were old.”

“That doesn't make sense.”

“Why would I start now?”

“Fair enough," she conceded. "So, ok, how do you make something new, old?”

“A ha!” he said, as if waiting for her to stumble on this idea. “How do you make something thats new, old?”

“Thats what I'm asking,” her entertainment at the crazy mans ideas was slowly turning to annoyance, especially since he had followed her to the bus stop and she had no idea how to get rid of him, although she suspected if she asked him to go, he would.

“What would you do if you wanted to make something new, old?”

She thought for a moment. “Wait,” she replied. "Just wait. Everything new eventually becomes old.”

“Ok, good. Now say you need to make something old quickly.”

Riley shrugged and made noises as if she were about to speak but everything she wanted to say was too absurd for words.

“Go on,” he insisted, as if knowing the idea that was bouncing around her head.

“Wait faster?” was all she managed to say before the words stopped.

“And how exactly do you think you can do that?”

“Speed up time?” she asked with a shrug and a forced chuckle. Her bus had just arrived and she stood to board.

“Ooooor?” he was getting excited again.

She shrugged again. She knew what she wanted to say but the act of saying it was a step too far for her.

“Time,” he started her off.

She got on the bus and sat at the window, his face looking directly at hers. For the rest of her life she would pretend she didn't understand the word he mouthed at her as the bus drove off.