After Elizabeth blurts out to Andrew that she can see (and touch) The Dead Boy, Andrew fights back hard. He does not believe her—even thinks she’s being intentionally cruel about his “crazy delusion”. She, angered and impatient, doesn’t bother to argue. Abandoning him in the Hospital courtyard, she races, on foot, up sinister Summit Centre Trail.
It is a favorite horror movie trope: the heroine who does a colossally stupid thing—creaking up the stairs to investigate the noise. Entering the forbidden room. Answering the ominously ringing phone in the dead of the night. Why do these characters deliberately put themselves into peril?
Why do we put ourselves in deliberate peril?
As Elizabeth takes the trail with the intention to confront The Dead Boy, she is struck not only by her own mounting terror, but also by the mountain footpath itself. The rich foliage and the tree roots, buckling out of the ground and reminding her—a classical guitarist—of a crudely-wrought fretboard. It charms her…and so does The Dead Boy when he materializes behind her, a tease who longs to seduce her and loves to flirt.
Real-life temptations are a whole lot like this; we never ascend our own proverbial set of stairs and purchase risk without some sort of pay-off waiting on the other side.
In Within The Summit’s Shadow, the trail to Summit Centre, and even the old Lodge up there itself, are both symbolic of Elizabeth’s temptation to rekindle her relationship with Andrew. She knows it is dangerous—knows, too, that she can never be ‘just friends’; if she’s in his life, she’s all in because she knows (even though she’s loathe to admit it) that she’s never, really, stopped loving him. Yet she also knows what his barbed tongue and surly disposition are capable of, and to this day she is not sure how he feels—or ever felt—about her. Dez, too, issues a warning: “If you are determined to love that man in spite of everything, then you’re in for a lifetime of saving him from himself.”
Elizabeth’s response is reflexive and without conscious thought: “Then I’ll take my chances.”
Because scary stairs are like that. We are aware we shouldn’t go. We don’t want to be in jeopardy.
As Elizabeth puts one apprehensive foot in front of the other up Summit Centre Trail, she reflects on her teenage treks up this same mountain with Andrew when they were teens, after dark. It was “the safest, most dangerous place she’s ever known.”
Andrew is the “safest, most dangerous things she’s ever known.”
And so, knowing it could hurt, knowing she could die….she climbs the stairs.
’Cause love’s like that.
Read Within The Summit’s Shadow
Or, start at the beginning of my Secrets & Shadows series with Divinity & The Python