Christian Barragan

Even though my memory fails me, I’d say being stuck on this mountain’s frosty tip is an issue from any angle. I don’t even remember how I got here. 

I have a few theories if you’re willing to listen. I figured, considering the altitude, I might have been involved in a plane crash, but my lack of physical injuries and the absence of wreckage makes that improbable. I’ve already circled my section of the mountain several times and haven’t found any clue indicating how I got here or the presence of anyone else. Aside from some minor details, my mind is blank. I don’t even remember my name. I wish I could at least say I had some family searching for me, but I’m not certain of anything. I can’t imagine any sequence of events where I’d purposely be left here, but I don’t know how to explain it other than by someone’s negligence. The frigid peak of this mountain is a harsh place to learn any lesson. 

I’ve located a cave nearby where I’ve stashed my few belongings and what remains of my supplies. If only I had someone to share it with. But not a bear. Can bears survive at this elevation? If I’d been a better student, I could have answered that. I wonder what’s the last thing I learned before I was stranded here. How many opportunities have I missed? Perhaps it’s better that I can’t remember. I might never get the chance to try anything else. Worse, I have no way of communicating with anyone who might be trying to find me. 

You might be wondering why I don’t just climb down from here, but I lack the necessary equipment and the ledge is much too steep to attempt on my own. A fall from here would definitely kill me and no one would even know where to look for my corpse. 

If I look at the foggy horizon I can see the crests of other mountains and I wonder how I came to be at this particular isolated spot where there’s nowhere for me to go and I have no chance of moving or saving myself because at this point it seems like that’s all there is for me to do but I can’t do that and it doesn’t matter because I couldn’t reach anyone and you can’t even hear me so



Nothing compares to the natural acoustics of an echo. If the vibration of my own voice is the last embrace I experience before I die, I’ll take it. Once again, it’s up to me to validate my own existence. 

Sorry, I don’t know if I usually act like this. I’ll just sit in this bear-less cave and pretend my echo is another person alerting me of their presence. Acknowledging me. Letting me know they’re coming. 


It’s a little less cold today. I haven’t filled you in on everything I’ve been feeling (funny how these situations affect our willingness to do that) but I haven’t been particularly optimistic. But it’s still early, I think. Who’s to say no one knows where I am? They could be organizing their rescue at this moment! Maybe they’re coming in a helicopter!

I hope I didn’t do anything to upset them. What if this really is all my fault? I won’t do anything so terrible ever again. Don’t you think the cold is enough punishment? 

No, they might not know exactly where I am. I need to tell them. 



That wasn’t an echo! I know I can at least distinguish my own voice.  Someone finally heard me. See? You don’t get anywhere by just sitting around waiting for someone to talk to you. I don’t want anyone to think I didn’t try enough when I was here so let’s not let excitement dull this moment. For all I know, they think I’m just a bizarre hallucination. 



Now what if I hadn’t tried that? As long as I keep this up my chances will certainly improve. I can finally get back to my life! Whatever it was…



What?! That came from a different peak! Definitely a different voice! It almost sounded closer! 


I don’t have much of a way of telling the time, but the responses from the other peaks have gotten considerably sparser.  But I know what I heard and they can’t keep quiet for long. They should have arrived by now.


Nothing. I have to admit, I waited a long time to try this at all. At least, it felt like a long time. Did I always take that long to communicate with people before getting stuck up here? Is that why I’m now forced to rely on strangers?  

I just need to keep trying. Their voices are echoing throughout the mental cage of my memory as clear as if I’d just heard them. But I need to hear them again. I need to know they’re still out there. My throat is a little sore so I think I’ll take a break, but I’ll keep trying later. 


I’m able to recall more of my life, albeit in brief bursts. Nothing specific. Just an awful lot of voices. I’ll scream my head off as soon as I get better. I’m pretty hungry right now so I think I’ll have something to eat. I remember that I liked canned food and people judged me for it. That hardly seems like enough reason to abandon someone though. I wish I remembered who didn’t like canned food. Maybe then I could think of some things we liked. 

I hope the rest of these memories are worth the wait. I’ll let you know if any more pop up. I’d like to at least remember my own name. It’s hard not having a way to refer to myself. It’s also hard not knowing how to refer to my companions out here. 

I refuse to believe they aren’t listening anymore. 


It’s a really long way down. The rock I just chucked over the edge took a long time to disappear. I couldn’t even see where it was going to land. I was aiming for the other mountain. 

I haven’t heard those voices in a long time. Why did they even wait so long to start? I had a fire burning and made plenty of noise. My presence should have been obvious. What did I do in my life to end up so far away from everything?

How could they mislead me like that? I wish they hadn’t said anything! Then I could have at least died in peace. 

And where have you been all this time? Here I am with no more cans and no more bears and no more air in my lungs and you have NOTHING to say! It’s almost like…

…well. Nevermind. 

Whoever I used to be, I doubt she’d be proud of where I am. Why doesn’t she come up here and save me? She wouldn’t recognize me. Maybe I really don’t like canned food. It doesn’t matter because I wasn’t kidding about the cans. I had saved some, thinking my companions would be hungry after scaling my mountain, but I’ve already burned through their share. 

I’m just sick of all this waiting. I could have ended this at any time. Tumbled over like the hapless rock, with no one to hear the final impact. I was so sure there was someone else out there. I could picture the other peaks exploding with a vibrant energy only a person could produce. I could feel a bridge forming between us. I know there were others out there! That makes it worse. They all chose to stay silent when it mattered. I hope they stay quiet. I’d hate the idea of any of them swooping in now when it’s too late for me and pretending like they intended to help. 

What if I build a bridge? Let’s see how they’d like me coming onto their mountain. If this peak is so interesting to make fun of, then take some of it! 


I hope that starts an avalanche. 


My voice is fine now, but I don’t feel like yelling anymore. I don’t even have a strong objection to trying again, I just lack the motivation. I’ve strained the ears of these mountains enough. If I’ve gone this long without hearing from anyone, then I know I won’t. 

A few more memories have oozed out of hiding. Nothing too special. Glimpses of myself as a child. I think that’s where they stop. Maybe something happened later that caused me to block out the rest of my life. Either way, I don’t think I’m missing much by staying up here. 

I haven’t even seen the outside in a while. It’s been so much colder and I can hardly bring myself to move. The effort doesn’t seem worth it.

Maybe there was a way off this mountain that I never discovered. One that everyone else found. Did I spend too much time ripping through the wind with my screams? Was there something I couldn’t see in front of me? In another life, perhaps I could have found it. 

In the deafening silence of this moment, I find that the sounds were the easiest to remember. The soft crunch of my feet in the snow. The sharp whistle of the wind. The distant rumbling. Can you imagine the sounds? If not, I can do it for you. They’re such beautiful things to miss. 

Oh, I finally remembered my name. Leah. It doesn’t feel strange saying it. It’s a rather lovely sound to hold onto as I fade away. 

I know it sounds crazy, but now that everything’s settled, I can feel someone’s presence here stronger than ever. In a way, it gives me hope. 

Perhaps someone will listen close enough to hear my last breath. 

About the Artist

Christian Barragan is a graduate from California State University Northridge. Raised in Riverside, CA, he aims to become a novelist or editor. He currently reads submissions for Flash Fiction Magazine. His work has appeared in the Raven Review, Moria Magazine, and the Frogmore Papers, among others.

Twitter: @Crumpled_Bundle

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