Cliff-Top Witness

random short story I wrote a year ago.

She stood on the cliff-edge. At the most Westerly point of the island, the whole Atlantic stretched out before her. She was at the forefront of the rage. She bore the brunt. And yet she stood firm, oblivious to the storm. The sea was a torrent, roaring and heaving, snapping and swallowing, the angry waves restless and cruel as they reared their way up to smash upon the rocks with a mighty fury, occasionally spraying the cliff-top fifty feet above where she stood, oblivious to the storm. The wind was a monster, ripping and snatching, tugging and tearing, the merciless hands greedy and relentless, gusts like something solid striking terror into every being but her on the cliff in the very midst of it all, oblivious to the storm.

The horizon was grey, so grey, and dull. An occasional lightning bolt lit up the sky far away as it pierced the rocky surface of the sea. The tempestuous oceans could be seen writhing where the seas met the skies, but far out, further out than any idle eye could see, a black dot was being tossed and catapulted onto the treacherous Sirens’ Rocks, unseen to those who were unacquainted with their presence. And the cliff-top witness was watching with wild blue eyes, terrified, lonely, admitting defeat, helpless to the holocaust being preformed out at sea, powerless in the knowledge that her own father, brother, uncle and fiancé were perishing in the storm.

Unblinking eyes watched the black dot for many whiles, dry with the uncried tears, wet with the cried ones, unafflicted by the wind. She could not turn her back on the scene of disaster until long after the majestic ship had vanished beneath the brutal waves, pierced by a great needle jabbing from inside the waters, sucked down under as if by a magnificent whirlpool compelling it under with an iron grip.

Witness to such a horrific spectacle, there was no turning back into the innocence of the past, now a flat mirror displaying an image of shallowness, not corresponding with the depth of soul now made accessible to her by the suffering knowledge of drowned loves.

The cliff-top spectator felt the deadly coercion that was clawing at her heart, grasping it and hurling her off her high roost into the treacherous waves below where she would supposedly salvage at least the bodies of her family. And yet she was aware of the dangers. She had seen them well with her own eyes years before. At the juvenile age of six she had been a bystander at the tragic scene of her grandfather’s heroic leap from this very cliff into the waves in an effort to rescue a poor fisherman caught unawares by the Sirens’. And that event had been lacking the storm. Tragedy was connected with this cliff.

She resisted the fatal compulsion that wanted her too to jump off the cliff, and turned away from the place. It was too dangerous to stay longer. Instantly she woke up to herself. She had lost her hat and scarf long ago. Her gown was in tatters, muddied, but quite dry. Her hair stood out in a shock of knots around her head as if she had been back-combing it for hours. Only her white stallion was grazing faithfully a little way away. The storm did not bother the horse, however elderly he might be growing.

The heavens began to weep as she ambled towards the thatched cottage a mile or so down the hill from the cliff. The cool clear drops were a relief for her as well as for the overwrought skies themselves, and as they cried all the emotion of the day, she too cried all her emotion out where it mingled with the raindrops and absorbed into the ground. She was still crying sorrow, memories, love, self-pity, lonesomeness, regret and misfortune when she reached the wicker gate to the cottage.

She rested quivering fingers on the latch, but something changed her mind and she drew the fingers away again. She paced a few steps further down, and glanced for the last time at the place where she had spent her childhood. All the familiar home things would never be the same without her father, brother, uncle or fiancé. The pretty thatched roof, the perfect rose garden, the shady trellis arch, the walnut tree, the open wood fire, the permanent smell of baking; and the loving mother within the house. The mother who would be so distraught at her loss. The mother who, also, would never be the same again. She did not want to be the bringer of bad news. She blinked briefly, tears forgotten, and continued down the hill to the village.

The End

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