Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Chapter 2 Pt 3

The boat skimmed lightly over the water. The steady rhythm of the oars in the water lulled me to sleep. I had not slept in so long… if my jump into the ocean wasn’t, indeed, a dream, then it likely was a hallucination brought on from not sleeping enough since I lost my father.

I woke to the scraping sound of wood on wood and the jingle of dog tags as Kip leapt from the boat onto a dock. I rubbed my eyes, feeling like I was stepping into a fairy tale. The docks lead up to a lovely blue and grey cottage surrounded by red and white flowers and the dripping beauty of a large willow tree. Window boxes were overflowing with an abundance of green. I wondered what magazine I had stepped into.

“This is your home?” I heard myself asking, as Devon reached out a hand to pull me up onto the dock.

Devon looked up at the cottage, as if seeing it for the first time. “It’s home,” he affirmed.

I swallowed a lump in my throat that I hadn’t even realized had been there. I tucked a non-existent strand of hair behind my ear, hoping that there was no tell-tale brightness in my eyes. I had a horrible suspicion that my nose had just turned scarlet, as it always did when I was about to cry.

The back door of the cottage opened towards us and a woman with dark hair, streaked with white, came out to meet us, Kip running around her legs and wagging his tail happily. She shaded her eyes against the glare of the light on the water and her face grew puzzled, though she smiled and started forward again.

“Did you find a selkie-maid in the surf and steal her from the sea, then?” She called, laughter filling her beautiful dark blue eyes.

Devon wrinkled his snub-nose at her. “Ma, this is Meg Tanner. She’ll be staying here… helping you out, if you don’t mind.”

“You don’t have to take me,” I said, feeling suddenly very shy.

“Nonsense,” She said, briskly, “I’d love to have you. I don’t get many woman visitors and it will be a nice change from my churlish son here.”

I was surprised to see Devon’s face flush to match his bright hair.

“Meg’s father recently died,” Devon said, abruptly. “I found Meg near the old cottage.”

His mother stepped back a pace and seemed to study me with a closer look. She let out a bark of laughter. “Perhaps I wasn’t far off the mark, then?”

Devon shook his head, a tight, little movement, clearly trying to keep her from continuing on.

“Oh, where are my manners?” She exclaimed, tossing back her salt and pepper hair like a young girl. “I’m Maureen… please call my Maura. Everyone does, even my son. It’s close enough to ‘Mama’ as never mind, and I do prefer it.”

“Ok… Maura,” I said, shyly. “Thank you… I don’t know where I would go if your son hadn’t said I could stay here. I suppose… I left my car somewhere…”

“Devon will help you get settled,” Maura said, brightly. “Just be back for dinner. I’m making crab that came home on the boat this very evening.”

Devon gestured for me to follow, the sunlight touching on the freckles that crowded across his nose. “My Da’s dead, too,” he said, abruptly. “He died when I was ten—it was a shock—changed my world. I’m sorry for your loss… it’s very hard… You… don’t have a mother, do you?”

I shook my head, unable to speak around the stone in my throat. I rubbed at it, trying to ease the ache. It hurt so much, I had to stop and bend over, trying to breathe. When I could, I raised myself up again, pretending that nothing had happened. I could see the worry on Devon’s face, but that just made me feel like crying even more. “No… I don’t have a mother. She drowned when I was a baby. I don’t remember her. It was just me and Dad and now…” I couldn’t finish the sentence. Now I was completely alone. We had been so happy together, just the two of us. Losing Dad had been like losing half of myself—my father, my best friend, my whole world—just stripped from me as bark from a young birch-tree. My heart was exposed and I was afraid that, at the slightest thing, it would break completely.

“I’m sorry,” Devon said, his voice soft. He paused, then continued. “I don’t know what I would do without my mother.”

“Can we talk about something else?” My voice sounded ridiculously high to myself. “Anything else? I don’t think I can… do this right now.”

Devon nodded briskly. “Um… so, what do you like to do?”

I actually laughed, it was such a basic question to ask after the deep emotion of the previous questions. “Oh… I ride… used to ride… a lot. I had my own pony for ten years. We used to go everywhere together. I never really got along with the kids at school, so it was pretty much me and him all the time. His name was Coal.” I closed my eyes, smiling as the memories brought back the rough feel of his shaggy mane under my fingers and the sweet scent of pony.

“I had a pony too,” Devon said, surprisingly. “My Da wanted to make sure I could ride. We still have him in the back pasture, though he mostly just bosses the horses around these days.”

“You have horses?” I felt a leap of hope in my chest. Perhaps I really was supposed to be around here.

Devon grinned at my enthusiasm and I felt a blush creep up across my face. “Yes, we have three of them, other than my old pony, Dragon. Once you get settled I’ll take you out with me. They could use the exercise. Maura doesn’t ride much these days… my Da died on horseback.” He said it with a matter of fact tone. I wondered if I would ever be able to say it so casually.

Our walking had brought us closer to town and I actually was beginning to recognize the sights—the harbor where the ferry had come in was right in front of me. I quickly found my old car, and was surprised by how good it felt to find it—some piece of something I knew, there in front of me—part of the old life that seemed so very far away from here.

My car’s condition caused me to blush again. The floor was littered with wrappers from all the fish sandwiches I had consumed on my drive. My few possessions—clothes, a few books and photographs, were flung helter-skelter across the back seat. I had left the dog unlocked and the keys in the ignition, but no one had disturbed the vehicle at all. I was surprised and grateful for that small favor of grace.

Devon surveyed my mess with a grin and cleared himself a seat, leaning back, perfectly at ease. “I like it,” he said.

“You’ve got to be joking!” I blurted. I had been teased at school for my rusty old heap of junk.

“I like old things,” Devon said, seriously. “This car has character! It has personality.”

“It doesn’t have shocks,” I warned. “So, be forewarned.” I shifted into gear and eased onto the road.

Dinner was delicious. Dad had always talked about how fresh seafood was the best way to eat it, but I had never even imagined the velvety-sweet flavor of the crab that Maura had prepared for dinner. It was a simple meal—crab, brown rice, and asparagus. Everything was flavored with the salty air of the ocean and I could hear the breath and sigh of the tide so nearby, it made me feel relaxed, whole, for the first time in so long.

I tried to drag myself to awareness as two strong arms lifted me up and carried me into the room that had be designated to me. I tried to protest, and to thank him, but Devon just said, “Shhh.”

I was too tired to protest. Before he even set me on my bed, I was asleep.

I dreamt I was swimming. I danced through the water, as if I had been born to be one with the element. My skin was smooth and dark, sleek in the water. I danced around, surrounded by silver moonlit bubbles. I laughed, surfacing, and turned my face to the sky.

The young girl from the cottage was sitting on the shore, smiling enigmatically as she spun her dark cords. I waved happily to her, begging her to join be, but she kept spinning, not even pausing in her work.

I turned back to the water. Gold and silver light flowed through the sea. I dove deeper, trying to see where the golden light came from. A hand caught onto mine, pulling me towards the surface again. Startled, I kicked up, taking a deep breath of the icy night air.

The most beautiful man I had ever seen in my whole life, smiled down on me. His hand was warm on my arm, his fingers as pale and perfect as moonlight. His hair was silvered in the darkness of the night and flowed back on an invisible breeze, framing the perfection of his high cheekbones, the sculpted, straight, nose-- his eyes the most intense shade of silver-blue I had ever seen. Chills races up and down my spine as his eyes turned to mine, my heart thrilled within me, my breath caught in my throat. He was exquisite, perfect, glorious as an angel, and he turned his hand in mine and twined his fingers through mine own imperfect, nail-chewed ones.

Suddenly I was no longer in the water, but we were standing there, side by side, under the trees, knee-deep in grass, the moonlight pouring down on us like a waterfall. The perfect being stared deeply at me, feasting his eyes on me as if he had never before seen anyone like me. I, myself, could not tear my gaze away. I had no desire to. I wanted to melt into those incredible eyes and swim in them. I felt my finger tips reach out to brush the too-perfect skin of his face.

I woke with a start and it was daylight.

Chapter Three

I lay in my bed, my heart pounding, my hands shaking. I did not know where I was. I couldn’t breathe. I felt shaken and unnerved by the vividness of my dreams. I had seemed so real—I had felt the water as I swam, I had actually smelled the scent of wild roses rising off of the strange, beautiful, man’s body.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Chapter Two PT. 2

Devon started walking again, and I had to stretch my legs to keep up with his long strides. "This is a very old place," he said, over his shoulder. "I'm surprised that you found it… not many people show up around here."

I broke into a jog and swatted absently at a mosquito who was gnawing on my leg. "I didn't mean to trespass."

He shrugged. "Don't worry about it… I guess I was just… surprised. It's not a safe place."

"But it's so lovely," burst from me before I could help myself.

Devon paused, looking back over his shoulder at the old cottage. "It has its charm," he said, wryly. "I don't know that 'lovely' would be the proper term for it."

"Where are we going?" I demanded, after he continued on, striding at a pace that made it difficult for me to match my strides with his. The happy golden backside of his dog appeared and disappeared in the grass and trees around us, wagging his fan of a tail and his mouth agape in simple doggy pleasure.

"I'm taking you to my mother's place," he said, then smiled at my obvious surprise. "You said you weren't staying anywhere in particular. She sometimes takes in boarders for the summer. She has an empty house this summer, so I thought you might find it comfortable."

"I—I couldn't," I stammered. "I mean…" I felt my face flooding with blood and knew my cheeks were scarlet. "I… I don't have any money," I admitted, trying to hide my face by staring down at the ground and my feet. "I couldn't afford to stay anywhere."

Devon waved his hand in the air. "Don't worry about it. You can help her out in the garden and she'd think herself repaid in full. She won't mind an extra pair of hands around."

"Thanks," I mumbled. "I don't know why you're being so nice."

As he didn't appear to have heard me, I didn't press the point. I had grown up in the Midwest, it wasn't unheard of for hospitality to be extended to those in need, now here I was, horribly in need, and Devon had appeared like s pug-nosed knight in shining armor. I wasn't going to press the point. I knew all too well that I had no money, no future… nothing but the clothes on the back, which were not clothes I recognized, when it came down to it. I was fairly sure that the nearly ground-length green dress I was wearing with a white undershirt of some light, yet warm fabric, was not something I had ever had in my jeans and t-shirt closet. The fine, leather ankle-boots were certainly not mine. Who had dressed me, anyway? I must look like something out of an old fairytale in a get up like that.

I reached up a hand to touch my hair and found it plaited behind me in a long tail. My hair was long, nearly to my waist, but curly enough and thick enough that it rarely appeared to be that length.

I wondered about this apparent gap in my memory. Perhaps I had struck my head. Or maybe everything I seemed to remember was nothing but some strange post-traumatic stress dream. Only one thing was sure—nothing was making sense. Something had happened to me. I had either leapt into the ocean and been rescued, in which case I could not even slightly remember my savior… the young girl in the cottage? Or I had wandered around for heaven knows how long, completely unaware of my surroundings… hallucinating? Either way there were some serious gaps in my memory, and in my understanding. I felt completely off-balance, as if I had opened my bedroom door and found Narnia there, staring me in the face… make that Wildside, I amended to myself.

Devon was whistling to himself, a rollicking, happy, tune, that somehow seemed to echo the golden and green of the spring abounding around us. It seemed fitting that he would whistle—his homely, kind face fitting well with the happy tail-wagging golden dog, the birdsong on the cool breeze coming off of the ocean.

We came in sight of a cove, with a small boat brought aground. Devon waded out into the water and Kip, the dog, leapt aboard, bearing a large white stick in his mouth—a trophy from his ramblings. I followed, aware of the cool, moist air rising towards me as I approached the water. A tingling filled my legs and lurched into my stomach as I stepped aboard the boat. I leaned over the side, dropping my fingers into the rich beauty of the salty water surrounding us.

"Careful, or you'll have us over!" Devon cried, sharply.

I jumped. I had forgotten anything existed, but the water. I obediently took my seat, but I let my fingers lightly dance across the surface. Something in me could not bear to be this close and not be in the water. It took all of my self-control not to jump from the boat and submerse myself in a grand echo of my leap? Fall? Dream? Of last night? Ever? It no longer mattered that I could not remember what had befallen me. All I wanted was to be with the sea. I wanted to taste it, to be held by it. I wanted to feel the chill against my skin, the waves pulling at my hair.

"Meg," Devon said.

I snapped to awareness, feeling as if I had drifted into a trance. Devon was regarding me steadily, with a quiet, guarded, look on his face. "Where are you from?" He asked.

"Missouri," I said, surprised.

"How did you end up here?" He asked it as soon as I had answered his first. I felt as if he were firing the questions at me.

"I drove," I said, my voice dripping with sarcasm. I felt a blush touch my cheeks and I clasped my hands together, much as I longed to throw them, and myself, back into the water. "My… my father died. I didn't have anywhere to go. I just… drove."

"And you ended up here." It wasn't a question, so I didn't feel like I needed to answer it.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Chapter Two

The girl’s sweet, angelic face, smiled at me with a gaze of non-comprehension. Her fingers never stopped playing with the cloud of dark fiber over her shoulder, and she cast her spindle down again, creating a long cord of thread, before winding it again. I watched in fascination, the repeated gesture mesmerizing to me.

Through the cottage window a slant of sunlight drifted across the floor, lighting up particles of dust and setting them to dancing. I had never suspected that even Heaven had dust, but as I pondered on it, I figured that dust was one of those inescapable things—even in the afterlife. Birdsong and the gentle song of wind dancing through tree leaves filled the air. The breeze which wended its way through the window was chill and I wrapped my arms around myself.

Another whistle joined the songs of the birds, then shifted to a different song, one with definite rhythm and cadence. It was a jaunty tune, full of spring, and jollity. I turned to smile in wonder at the girl, to share with her the delight I felt at that charming tune.

She was gone. The cottage was empty.

I started, staring around me at the cracked and darkened walls—the empty fireplace with the fallen timbers shattered across the floor. The whitewash was darkened and stained by years of rain.

The whistling drew closer, and I went to the doorway, drawn to the sound despite the sudden change it seemed to have brought about in the once-cozy, now dismal, cottage. The whistler was a slight form, strolling slowly up a dirt road. The sunlight glinted gold in his otherwise copper hair. As I watched, he shaded his eyes with one hand, and called out something to me that I didn’t understand.

“I’m sorry?” I stammered.

The figure drew to a stop, looking as astounded as I felt. After a moment, he drew closer, shaking his head. “You’ll not be wanting to be around this old place,” a firm voice called to me. “It’s not safe.”

I shook my head. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know I was trespassing. I don’t even know how I got here…” I made a useless gesture with one hand. How to explain that I had drowned that this was apparently my version of heaven? Did one actually have to explain things to a dream? As the man drew closer, I had more doubts of his angelic origin. He could be a leprechaun perhaps, but not an angel. There was a mischievous bend to his lips and his blue eyes had all laugh lines around them, dotted with a fair spattering of light freckles against his ultra-fair skin. His nose turned up, which would have been cute on a child, but looked rather out of place on his mature face.

“Who are you?” He called, coming nearer, his blue eyes suspicious. He waded through waist-high green grass to approach. The blades parted around his legs and parted around the open-mouthed, joyous face of a golden dog, running at the man’s side.

On reflex, I knelt down and tickled the dog’s ears. He was a golden lab, the spitting image of my dad’s old companion, though Tipper had died seven years ago. The dog swiped my chin with a sloppy tongue and I giggled. I looked up at the man, who had drawn to a halt right before me, and was watching us stoically. “I’m Meg,” I told him. “My name is Meg Tanner.”

“I’m Devon Horan,” He responded. “What brought you here?”

I sighed, rubbing noses with the friendly dog. “The sea, I suppose, you could say.” I told him.

“Kip,” Devon scolded, as the dog licked me again, with enthusiasm. The dog dropped back a few steps, wagging his high-held tail. “The sea?” His face was troubled.

“Where am I?” I asked him. “I’m afraid I’m… lost?”

“Yes,” Devon seemed to bring himself back to attention with an effort. “Yes, you must be lost. We are on a small island… the closest town is Trinity.”

“Oh!” I felt a rush of shock. Part of me had assumed all of this was part of dying, a piece a heaven. I watched a piece of dandelion fluff float on the wind and faced my returned mortality. “I came from Trinity… I’m not sure how I got here.”

Devon scowled. “Where are you staying, in Trinity?” He made the question a casual one, turning his shoulder, obviously expecting me to follow him. I fell into stride behind him, running my finger tips through the high grass.

I shrugged. “I don’t know… I don’t really belong anywhere.”

He turned with a sudden, jerking motion, so fast that I almost ran into him. His face was troubled, as if I had said something that struck him to the core. “What?” He demanded. “What did you say?”

I shrugged, nonplussed by his reaction. “I don’t really have a place to go.” I glanced back at the cottage behind me. It seemed so dark and empty, a shell where a spirit once had been. It made me think of my father, lying there, with all that made him real missing. “What is this place?”

I wanted to ask him about the girl, about the change that had happened to the cottage when he appeared, but was afraid that it would sound like the words of a mad-woman. Perhaps I had dreamt the whole thing. Somehow, I could not believe that.

Devon started walking again, and I had to stretch my legs to keep up with his long strides. “This is a very old place,” he said, over his shoulder.


I stared down at my hands. They were red, chapped and cold in the unseasonably chill June morning. My knuckles, I noticed, were white under the skin. I forced myself to relax my grasp on the lead line I was holding. Coal didn’t need me to fall apart now. In a few hours, when I was truly on my own, then I could let go and let everything hit me, but I didn’t want my shaggy, stubborn, best friend to remember me as a mess.

Coal turned his heavy Shetland head towards my cold hands and blew over them, searching for his customary treat. If I looked at him I could pretend that it was all just as simple as this. I was a girl who was giving up her childhood pony to a farm down the road. He wasn’t mine anymore.

If I focused on that pain then the other, deeper pain, could be ignored.

I closed my eyes and leaned against Coal, digging my hands into his heavy mane and scratching in that particular spot that was always itchy. For a moment I had to force myself to take deep breaths, or I knew that I would fall apart, shatter, split into a thousand pieces of glass, and then I wouldn’t be able to keep my last promise to myself. Tomorrow, I had promised myself. I will fall apart tomorrow. Not today.

A beat up pick-up pulled up, with two grinning kids hanging out of the passenger window. Even before the truck had stopped they were out and running towards me. No, not towards me, I mentally corrected myself: towards Coal. He snorted at their approach, as much as he could be bothered to do, and thirty year old pony who had seen it all and done even more.

I tried to focus on the energetic conversation of the children in front of me, but the numbness that had been my haven for the last few weeks was too hard to shake off. I felt muddled, drugged into a stupor, as if my own mind was not mine to use.

It was over all too soon. I could not bring myself to say goodbye to Coal. I just patted him awkwardly on the neck and then the kids jumped on his back, double bare-back, to ride him home, to their farm down the road.

I sat down on the closest rock and watched them ride down the road until they disappeared.

It was over. Done. Coal had been the last.

I was free.

I bent my head into my hands and let my grief overwhelm me.

A girl, a beat up old car, one bag of belongings, very little cash, and no place to go, I sat behind the steering wheel trying to decide where I was going. Finally, I just started the car, shifted it into gear, and burped our way up the road, with no particular direction in mine. After all, I had no place to go. I was not expected anywhere by anyone. After today I would just be a fading memory in the thoughts of the small town in Missouri that had been my home since I was too small to remember anything else.

My hands started shaking and I had to pull off the road. I cursed as my car stalled and bumped to a stop in a mud puddle. I took hysterical breath after breath, then let them take over. Who was I being strong for?

This couldn’t be me. This couldn’t be my life. Normal people don’t just lose everything. Normal people don’t graduate from high school, go into business with their father for a year, and then have the floor exploded out from under there.

Normal people don’t go out the door to get pizza and never come back. Normal people don’t fall asleep at the one stop light in this two horse town and then never wake up.

I had not been able to believe it when I sat for two weeks, holding a cold hand that had once been strong and beautiful, that had once been part of my strong, handsome, amazing father. I could not believe that now, even after he was gone, after the shell of what he had been had been placed in a hole in the ground, after everything we had had was sold to pay for hospital bills.

How could something like this be true? Could life actually be that fragile? My father had never been fragile in his life. He had been larger than life, warm, laughing, happy… how could that be twisted into the morbid still, weak, tissue-paper form in a hospital bed?

And I had not even been there in the end. I had held his hand non-stop for six days, scarcely leaving even to use the restroom. I had held onto him as if I could will his unhearing spirit back into its old hollow frame. The more I held onto him the more I could believe that he would recover, that he would wake up and his hazel eyes would crinkle up at me and he would laugh at my sober expression as he had so many times in the past.

I was asleep when he left—when he died. I was home, in bed, and he was taking his last breath.

I would never forgive myself. Maybe, if I had held onto him a little longer, he would have been fine. He would have come home and we would have found a way to make ends meet. And, if we had lost everything, we would have still had each other.

Instead, I was more alone than I had ever been in my whole life.

Eventually, I started my car again. I kept going straight ahead, joining onto a freeway, driving through the night, heading east and north for no good reason but that was where my car was facing when I left home. Only when my hands started to shake did I realize that I hadn’t eaten in two days. Eating was for real people, and I was not convinced that I was real in any sense of the word. Hunger overruled and I pulled off at the next stop, stopping to wash my face in a fast food restroom and eat a greasy fish sandwich and enough caffeine to power a submarine across the atlantic.

I cat napped now and then at different rest stops, eating when I started shaking, sleeping when I was endangering the other drivers by being on the road. I crossed the border into Canada and just kept going—north and east.

I spent my last fifty to get on a ferry. I spent my last three dollars on fish and chips.

I stood on the ferry and stared out at the ocean around me.

Perhaps there was more to my destination than I had previously allowed. I had never seen the ocean. My father held some kind of terror of large bodies of water, which was understandable as my mother had drowned in the ocean when I was only sixteen months old. Now, here I was, looking down at all this unbelievable water. I had never seen anything like it. It was bitter cold as it slapped up at me. I could taste salt in the air, and suddenly my heart was pounding. Blood was in my veins again, flowing and warm. I was alive.

I drove off of the ferry and found myself in Trinity, Newfoundland.

Nothing had ever called to me as the ocean did. I wanted to give into its seductive voice and plunge into its depths, ignoring the miniscule detail that I could, of course, not swim. Part of me was terrified, seeing its incredible strength that had carved out the cliffs and rocks around me, but most of me was wildly exhilarated. As if I were suddenly drunk, but not muddled, more clear headed than I had ever been in my life.

I kept my distance, as a woman does when she knows the man she’s attracted to is no good for her, but just looks too good.

At sunset I found I had hiked a little out of the town. Somewhere a violin and flute were playing a tune that sent shivers up my spine. It was wailing, haunting, and somehow so very familiar. There was something about this place that touched my very soul.

It terrified me.

The clouds above me opened their arms and sent down sheets of rain.

I leapt without a thought. Water closed over my head and I threw out my fingers, feeling the cruel, heavy, pressure of the water swallow me. The tide pulled at me, at my clothing, tasting this morsel that had thrown herself into his embrace. Deeper and deeper I sank, too overpowered to feel afraid.

My lungs burned within me and I knew I was drowning. I sent a silent apology to my father that he would have to see me so soon for being so stupid. I twisted in the water, luxuriating in its icy, thrilling, touch, even as I opened my mouth and the water poured like ice into my lungs.

Heaven was murky, green, and blue, and dark.

And cold.

I was staring into a young face, a beautiful young girl with wide brown eyes and her heavy hair floating in the water. Heaven was under water.

She reached her fingers towards me and, curious, I reached out and touched her.

Gold light swallowed me.

I woke again to find myself wrapped in blankets by a roaring fire. I reached towards the flames and I could feel the warmth against my fingers. The narrow bed and the white, rough, walls, around me did not fit my pre-conceived notion of Heaven, though I had been unaware that I had had any notions of what Heaven would be like.

I reached out to touch one white wall, it felt cool under my fingers, the grains of the stone could be felt through layers of whitewash.

What was this place?

A muffled sound came from one corner and I realized that I was not alone. In one corner, a young girl was playing with some kind of toy. It looked like a top, but with a stick through the top. She would drop it and it would spin around on a piece of yarn. After a moment I realized that it wasn’t a toy. She was making yarn with this odd implement from a puff of some kind of wool she held over her shoulder. She looked up and met my gaze with a pair of wide, unnervingly wise, brown eyes.

She was almost impossibly pretty, to my eyes, with round, high, apple cheek bones, and a profusion of dark curls tumbling down her back. Her skin was pale and white, perfect, with roses touching her cheeks and lips. She looked like a doll come to life.

“Am I… dead?” I heard myself stammer. “Are you an angel?”


Thick curtains of rain drifted like sheets of velvet down across the ebony expanse of water. Looking down on it, I could not catch my breath. It was as if some ancient, primordial, spirit had reached into my very soul and removed it from my body. I was numb, frozen, stilled. The rain crushed down on me, chill fingers grasping at me roughly, clumsily, but not cruelly. As if I was simply too frail to bear its gentle ministrations. My hair clung to my face as I clutched my arms to my chest.

How much time had passed? Had it been a moment? Had it been a life time? I stretched my fingers out towards that dark expanse below me—the haunting, perfection that I had never known existed until now. It called to me, lured me on, and as my heart leapt into mortal terror, the rest of me welcomed what would surely come.

I leapt down into that icy embrace.