got away from him. Even that moment of anticlimax does not, cannot, exist. The hill starts to fall away into the sky, he starts to hope, in spite of himself, that this time is different, that he’s finally worked enough, strived enough, that he’s beaten them, that he’s won, and then—
There is no gap, no irritated, weary trudge down the hill. Too chaotic by far, that, too much chance for the boulder to build up speed, to escape. So, instead: he is merely mid-stride, lungs and legs already half-jelly, shoulder and neck pressed against the uneven surface of the rock, at the bottom of the hill, looking up, that half-moment of triumph still ringing in his ears.
He can’t be sure that he has done this before, that this isn’t the first time he’s set himself against the hill, the boulder, the gods. Time is slippery, here; the light never changes, the asphodel never crumples beneath him, the boulder never wears a track into the hip of the hillside. Memory is clear, clear and perfect, and the sentence laid upon him as fresh as yesterday.
Let him be perfectly clear: the boulder never