A rocky headland stood above the long curve of beach, brooding and sinister in the dull light of late afternoon. A pathway rose from the beach, carefully climbing through the rocks to reach the windswept grassland where occasional low bushes crouched like old men over a campfire.
A young family was out for an afternoon walk along the cliff top path. The husband and wife were holding hands and talking, their heads leaning toward each other lovingly. I could hear their children laughing and squealing as they ran past the spot where I was standing silently. They didn’t notice me though; I was invisible to them.
Across the bay, the white sail of a yacht was disappearing over the horizon. It was just a speck now, drifting on the breeze and drawn by some inexorable force to leave this shoreline and seek adventure elsewhere; sailing away from its past through the whitecaps and the ocean swell.
I watched the family walk on, before moving myself slowly to the edge of the cliff, arms open wide to reach for the clouds drifting in the baby blue sky. My skin was pale against the dark bushes that clawed at my legs and left red scratch marks. The late afternoon breeze whipped long auburn hair around my face, its chill blowing through my thin cotton dress and pressing it against the curve of my belly. But I didn’t feel the cold. All I could feel was the ache in my heart and the roaring confusion of painful words in my head, the taste of salt on my lips.
Wild surf on the rocks far below beckoned to me, promising an escape from all the turmoil, the loneliness, the bruises on my heart and face. So many years had passed by as the sea eroded those rocks into jumbled shapes, so beautiful and eternal; so many choices that had led me to this one point in time. All I needed to do was take a step forward to make my next move and sink gracefully into the waiting depths. That was the only choice left, the only path that was clear to me. My hands had stopped shaking; there was no more fear, just quiet certainty and all the time in the world.
I closed my eyes and felt the tears on my cheeks. From a distance I heard a voice calling out across the coastal heath. ‘Molly,’ the voice called desperately, rising and falling with the wind. ‘Molly, where are you?’