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Dismal Peak

As small towns go, you can’t get much smaller than Dismal Peak; one thousand people lived there, give or take a few. No roads went through the town, as the town was off to the side at the base of a snowy mountain peak. The main attractions in town were four taverns and a bowling alley on the outskirts; the closest school was a fifty minute school bus ride. Not that it mattered that much, not many people in Dismal Peak had children that still lived close by, most people moved from the area as soon as they were of legal age. Nothing exciting ever happened in Dismal, or so it seemed to the folks that were in a rush to move; and for the most part they were right.

The Felstone family could trace its roots from present day to the founding of Dismal Peak, a proud Norwegian family of blond haired women of blue eyes and perked lips, and men made of barrel chests and bulging biceps. Well except Ray, at eighteen he was an anomaly, a toothpick in girth with dark hair and glasses perched over his nose. His family didn’t understand him with a book in his hand inside his room rather than the outdoors like the rest of the family. The second child of four, Ray just always felt out of place. His younger brother could beat him in a wrestling match, if Ray would actually partake in the challenge, probably even his younger sister. In school he belonged to the choir, frustrating his teacher who could hear his perfect pitch and baritone only if she were standing next to him in a room all alone.

His older sister Julie was an old crone at the age of twenty, having already married the local football star, she took every opportunity to point out how Ray didn’t measure up or just wasn’t good enough. Julie was solely responsible for a nickname Ray had been branded with since elementary school-Germs, many people still snickered at him as he walked down the street in remembrance of that name.

John, his younger brother, was the talk of the town; a real jock a member of all the local sports teams and the youngest member of the volunteer fire department at the age of 16. Every girl in town could be found writing “Mr and Mrs. John Felstone” over and over again on their notebooks. John used this charisma to have any of the girls he wanted, like kites he would keep them dangling in the sky hoping to be swept up in his arms forever. His contempt for his older brother was apparent to all, all he ever wanted was a brother to compete with and lead by example, certainly not Ray.

Of his entire family, Denise was the most understanding and supportive of her brother. She always took the time to find out what he was reading, and tried to engage him in activities that would lead to the outdoors or just with people outside the family, the attempts usually met with failure, but she never gave up. Denise shared the common characteristics of most other Felstones, her long blonde hair and blue eyes were admired by the boys in town, but she was a bit shy still at twelve.

And while Pa Felstone would have approved of a more active, masculine son he never pressured Ray to do or be anything. Each afternoon upon returning from the factory, where he crafted steel tanks, Pa would sit in his recliner and fall fast asleep, his snore rattling the windows ever so slightly. Pa’s naps always lasted until Ma would call for dinner, he get up and come sit at the head of the table a glass of buttermilk already there waiting for him.

Ma Felstone was a homemaker, and she loved every minute of it, her quiet times were spent in her special sewing room making this or that, creating new looks for rooms with drapes, pillows or throws. One of the best cooks in the county, she had won awards at the fair, and was always the most sought after for local pot lucks. Ma always had dinner ready at 5:30 sharp, and the kids were always on hand, savoring the scents that would emanate from the kitchen. Ma always went out of her way to prepare meals special for Ray, he was the pickiest eater she had ever seen, no onions, mushrooms, sauces, or seasonings… she always worked to make everyone else happy.

Ray might have never left Dismal Peak or his family home, he was content to spend the rest of his life remote and distant. Of course that was before the big snowstorm and the avalanche that changed everything…

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