“It’s pronounced Err eye-va yo-coo-kill,” I say
“Oriva yocokl?” he says.
“Almost. You’ve got to click your tongue at the end. Like this: yo-coo-click.”
“Oriva yoco click,” he says
I nod, smile. He’ll never get it.
“What does it mean, anyway?” he says.
“Wasteland,” I say.
He adjusts his scarf. His breath unfurls from his fur-lined hood and drifts away.
“Remind me why we’re here again?” he says
“Fifteen years. Crystal. Whatever I want, remember?”
“I thought you’d choose a decanter, or champagne flutes. You know, something traditional. Something you could keep.”
“How can you still not know me, after all this time?”
He crosses his arms, kicks ice off his boots. The crystals scatter into countless sparkling fragments.
“Maybe you’ve changed,” he says.
“Maybe you haven’t,” I say.
Removing a glove, I squat down and press my bare hand into the snow piled at the crater’s edge. Seven thousand feet beneath us, a lake of liquid magma lies dormant, waiting to erupt.
“I’ve had enough,” he says. “Are you coming?”
As he walks away, I step onto the ice cap covering the volcano and stride toward the middle of the crater. Snow falls and melts on my skin.
Lying flat, I rest my cheek against the frozen crust and close my eyes.
Deep, deep within the mountain, the fire begins to stir.