Ryan can't see the wider perspective, but somehow that's alright
Ryan knelt down slowly to retie the lace on his right shoe once more before tying the short blue scarf tight around his neck. The action seemed pointless but still, the young man was reluctant to be cold on this most eventful day. Stepping outside his cottage and onto the grassy cliff, he closed his blue eyes to feel the chill that shivered through his body. He could almost hear his brother’s voice telling him to do anything but this, anything but step off the cliff.
The cliff had once held such adventure, such wonderment, for the man who thought himself no more than a boy. His first house, his first car, his first everything. Every gale now brought to mind the first time he had stood on his cliff, looking out to the world. Ryan didn’t know where he was looking, but preferred it that way. Perhaps down there was Africa, perhaps somewhere less exciting like Wales; he didn’t know. It didn’t matter when all he could see were the blues and greens of oceans deep enough to house unknown creatures. It didn’t matter when all he could smell was the salt in the air from thewind that raced over the water. Now the cliff was nothing more than a tall place: taller than any building. Looking down might have meant looking into the abyss.
Stepping closer to the cliff’s edge, he hid his chin and his pursed lips with the woollen scarf his mother had knitted to protect his face from the cold. As if noticing the young man, the gale slowed over the sea as it reached the cliff. Ryan walked against it to stand on the edge of the tall chalk cliff, a thousand grey rocks beneath being beaten with a thousand violent waves. The slim man looked over the precipice of white rock into the danger below.
"To be or not to be, eh?" he almost laughed audibly to himself at the ridiculousness of Shakespeare and his impending death if the wind were to change suddenly. Excitement thrummed through his body and through the branches of the few, scattered trees in his garden. In the few movies he had seen, before someone jumped off anything, a foot was always hung precariously over the drop. Ryan dangled his carefully tied shoe over the choppy water. Nothing happened. Ryan was almost disappointed, expecting some dramatic music to play in the back of his head, or his shoe to fall even if he had tied it securely.
Shaking his blond head, he sobered; Lydia had told him once that she would never forget him. Of course, it gladdened him to know he would be remembered by someone, and if it had to be anyone he was pleased it would be her. It made him sad, though, that she would remember: she might be sad. Lydia had told him that he looked at his life like he was looking through a telescope when he wasn’t feeling happy one day. On the cliffs edge, he grinned, reminiscent of the days they had spent together and how she explained that if he were to step back, look at his life with wider eyes, a wider perspective, it wouldn’t be so bad. He thought it a shame that it wasn’t possible for him. That thought is what found Ryan on the cliff with securely tied laces and a warm scarf about his neck.
The grin remained on his face until he hit the rocks.
A month before, Lydia sat beside Ryan on the tall cliffs, staring out to the seas’ calming blue waves. Though he had tensed at first, she had laid her head in his lap and became comfortable, watching his long legs stretch out. He relaxed, and began stroking her chestnut hair from her face. A cool breeze made their cheeks pink like the raspberries they had eaten.
“It’s so pretty here,” Lydia said as if she had just woken from a deep, long sleep, curling herself tighter around his thighs like a cat.
He hummed in agreement, afraid the wind might steal his words. A silence followed until the sun began to fall behind the oceans horizon.
Then the young woman spoke: “Ry, why are you so upset? I know we never talk about it and you’ve never said it out loud. I can feel it, though, I can feel how scared you are all the time. Why is that?” She sat up then, to connect their eyes in the hope she might see some shimmer of a secret revealed there.
Stunned, he used his hands to prop himself into a leaning position away from her.
“I’m not upset, love. Not at all,” he laughed nervously. “I’m alright,” he smiled.
“No you’re not. I see the way you look at things. It’s like you’re looking through a telescope.” Turning her body round to face him properly, his hands could no longer support him and he sat up.
“What?” he asked.
“Most people, they see things differently to you. You know when you have a telescope and you look at a certain star? Or a certain bit of space?” He nodded once. “It’s like that. You’re looking at life like that. It seems to me you’re focusing a lot on little things. Like when we went to that fancy restaurant and you couldn’t help but think that man sitting across from us was looking at you, remember?”
“I remember,” he said, nearly inaudibly. “But why are you telling me this?”
She shook her head, smiling with her big teeth.
“Because you might need to remember it one day. When you think things are bad, zoom out a little. Look at the big picture, Ryan. It’ll do you a world of good.”
Lydia closed her eyes then and didn’t open them until she was lying on his lap once more, warmed from the last few rays of sunlight. His slender fingers trailed through the soft grass as the low glow of amber from the small cottage cast silhouettes of the young lovers. Ryan looked at her as if reminiscent of the days not yet past, like he was missing her already, though she lay by his side in absolute peace.