Prologue

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 of coastal tea trees and banksias crouch like old men hunched over a campfire.
A young family is out for an afternoon walk along the cliff top path; the husband and wife are holding hands and talking, their heads leaning toward each other with loving familiarity. I can hear the children laughing and squealing with happiness as they run past the spot where I am standing silently, and the parents are smiling warmly after them. They don’t notice me. I am invisible to them, as I float through the world in a dream.
Across the bay, a yacht is disappearing over the horizon. It is just a speck now as its white sail slowly disappears, drifting on the breeze, 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 watch 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 is pale against the dark branches that claw at my legs and leave red scratch marks. Long auburn hair is whipped around my face by the late afternoon breeze, its early autumn chill blows through my thin cotton dress and presses it against the curve of my belly. But I don’t feel the cold. All I can feel is the ache in my heart and the roaring confusion of painful words in my head, the taste of salt on my lips.
Shadows of cloud are racing across the grassland, flowing over me with their trailing dark ribbons that paint my face in shades of grey. The only sound in my ears now is the rushing wind and the cry of a sea eagle in the solitude, so hopelessly lonely and unwanted.
Wild surf on the rocks far below beckons to me, promising an escape from all the turmoil, the loneliness, the bruises on my heart and face. So many years have passed by as the sea eroded the rocks into jumbled shapes, so beautiful and eternal; so many choices that have led me to this one point in time. All I need to do now is take a step forward to make my next move and sink gracefully into the waiting depths. That is the only choice left, the only path that is clear to me. My hands have stopped shaking; there is no more fear, just quiet certainty and all the time in the world.
I close my eyes and feel the bitter tears on my cheeks. From a distance I hear a voice calling out across the coastal heath. “Molly” it calls desperately, rising and falling with the wind. “Molly, where are you?”

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