I wrote this as a way to express what I was feeling at the time. This is a work of fiction. I am sort of obsessed with my biological mother’s suicide, but to be clear this is not how it happened, this is simply a story to express myself. – Jess (Phoenix)
As I stood, at the edge of the cliff, my rainbow painted toes dangling off the edge, I could hear the sound of the raging river far below. The rocks were digging into my bare feet, soft and fresh from a pedicure earlier in the day. One slip, one misstep or, one deliberate walk into the void was all it would take.
As I stood there, my internal clock ticking away, I was struck with the realness of everything. Something I had not expected as I had been in such a daze for so long. My emotions ranging from rage to grief to simple pain and sadness. Unable to focus, think, even speak as thing got worse.
I think it was the moment I lost my job that I realized what I was going to do. I knew without truly knowing. It was as if the fog had been lifted and I realized that I did not belong here, I did not belong anywhere.
I lived in a world where you had to be “normal” or pretend. I have never been good at either of those things. Somehow I always knew it would end up like this, a self-fulfilling prophesy. The foster home, the last one before I was thrown out into the streets to fend for myself, tried to help. They did. But they were ill equipped for the damage that was done long before they came into the picture.
I stood, barefoot, listening to the waves crashing into the rocks below. Time was running out before the tide moved back out and the cavern below me would no longer be filled with water. I had to make a choice that I had already subconsciously made, one that was irreversible.
There was a time my mom brought me here, the family cabin in the woods, far away from everyone. She was having one of her psychotic episodes. I tried to stay as far away from her as I could, but she needed a witness. This was my first time at the family cabin, as we were the pariahs of the family. It could have been an adventure.
Instead it was a terror filled time, me watching her closely from behind the trees as she ranted and raved to a god that only she believed in. Cursing her god for abandoning her. For causing her mental illness. Spitting and crying, her face red from rage and longing.
When it became dark she created a bonfire at the edge of the cliff. I helped pick the wood. Thankfully she was too absorbed in her mission she did not realize that some of the pieces were a little wet. I was so young I had to make several trips. The fire lit and that seemed to make her happy for a moment.
She told me to sit down and I choose a stump across from her, the fire between us. Her face alight with her internal mania and the orange glow of the flames. She sat, stiff and still, watching me with eyes that reflected the orange of the flames while I watched the little pieces of lit ash that floated into the darkness.
My stomach grumbled. We had not eaten for two days and I was so hungry, but I never said a word. I just watched the fire float in the blackness of the night always keeping an eye on her, just in case.
I was used to being silent when she had her psychotic episodes. So I waited to see what was in store, ignoring the increasing hunger in my gut and the urgent need to pee. I did not want to move because that would break her out of whatever trance she was in.
The fire mesmerized me. It was beautiful and bright in a night where the stars shined brilliantly in the black moonless sky. I would see their reflection on the water below. Imagine a different world in the reflection.
“It wasn’t supposed to be like this.” softly she drew my attention back to her. Her lips curled up into a wistful smile causing my internal alarms to go off. I carefully tensed my body, getting ready to run. My heart beating faster as I watched her carefully. What was happening here? What did she want from me? I was so tired.
Her eyes, black in the darkness with that damn glow from the fire reflecting back at me. Hair disheveled and face red with pain and suffering. “We were all supposed to be a family. It was never supposed to be like this. Jessie, I love you, you know that right? I have always loved you. I always will.” Unwilling to break this spell, this moment, I said nothing, my eyes wide and I imagine reflecting the fire light back at her. A dirty, skinny little girl with long disheveled auburn hair, just like her mom’s.
“Lord knows I tried. I tried so hard, but I just wasn’t good enough. I passed on the darkness to you. The devil lives in you and he will eventually take you over, just like he tried to take me.” Tears were starting to flow down her face. I tensed, getting ready to run. “I should have done this long ago.” She stood, slowly, like she was in pain. Watching me as a predator with their prey in sight.
She walked over to the edge of the cliff and looked down. My heart was beating so fast I was afraid it would force itself out of my chest. “But I was afraid. Fear Jessie, Fear was my downfall.” She turned back to me. “They want me to sacrifice you. Give you to them so that they can leave me in peace.” Turning back to the edge of the cliff she leaned over and I realized I was crying. I did not fully understand what was happening but I knew it was bad and it was going to hurt.
“Can you hear them? They are so loud Jessie. They are screaming for us, for you.” I stood up, listening carefully as I stepped away from the fire, into the darkness, into the forest. I watched her from behind a tree before she noticed I was no longer there. All I could hear were the wave crashing into the rocks below and the crackle of the fire.
“Jessie! Come back here. Come to mommy.” Tears rolled down my face as my hand covered my mouth watching her, knowing she could not see me, knowing what she intended. She yelled one more time. “Jessica Lynn you get out here right now young lady.” I stifled a sob.
She turned, talking to herself. I could not hear what she said but I watched in horror and my mother took a deep breath and yelled one last thing. “You will be here someday and I will wait for you. I love you.” She looked up at the stars, gave the finger to her god and stepped off the cliffs edge.
I am not sure how long I stood, shaking and crying behind the tree while I waited for her to reappear. The fire eventually started to go out and the transition from night to day occurred so subtly it was daylight before I knew it. I had wet my pants as I waited. My first thought when that occurred to me was that mommy was going to beat me because we had not brought extra clothing.
As the sun started to shine down, oblivious to the drama that had just occurred, I slowly walked over to the edge of the cliff and I looked down. I did not see anything other than the water. I found out later that she had been dragged into the cavern that would eventually empty out before filling up again.
I stood watching, my shoes, too small for my feet, hanging over the edge and I swore to myself that I would never come back here. I would never be like her. I hated her for leaving me. I hated her for hurting me. I loved her for freeing me.
I turned slowly, exhausted, the sounds of the waves following me as I walked head down past our old rusty car towards the dirt road. It was hours before anyone stopped for me. I plodded along, my feet hurting and tears just streaming down my face. There was no one left now. I was all alone. An orphan in a world that beat us, raped us and ignored us. Innocence was something for other little girls. Not me.
Years later, after fighting my own battles, remnants of her birthright to me, I started to hear the waves again and this time, they were accompanied by a cacophony of voices, voices of the lost, voices of darkness and peace, voices of home.
It all came back to this moment, to this cliff and this cavern and this water. This is where I would choose, even though in a way I already had. Alone. Lost. The pain so great I felt like doubling over. Grief, loss, longing.
I took my hair out of my bun and let the wind carry it as it would. I took off my sweater and stood alone, in the darkness, lit only by the sparkling of the stars that always bore witness. Although, I suppose they didn’t really, because by the time their brilliant light hit us, they were probably long gone.
I stood. Naked as the day I was born. My feet sore and bleeding from the sharp rocks. I looked at the water, it was an angry night and the waves were so powerful that when they hit the cliff, the spray reached me, tickling my body with the cool salt water.
I took a deep breath, reveled in the beauty of the moment, of my choice, and instead of simply walking off the cliff, I dove, arms in front of me as I fell, the salt water and wind mixing together and before I knew it I was under water. My body shocked by the cold. I swam towards the cavern she was found in and as I allowed the water into my lungs, fighting the urge to fight for air and life, I swam, the pressure building in my chest. My body trying desperately to reject the water, fighting despite myself for survival.
I could hear them, those lost souls and there was one I was seeking, I could see them, these women and men, lost and longing for what I have given up by choice. I felt their weak grasps as they tried to pull me back. I was starting to lose consciousness as I saw the light, a soft glow and a woman swimming toward me. Her smile was one of peace. She embraced me and I could hear softly “Welcome Home my child.” Before I was lost to the darkness, peace.
It felt like an eternity that I floated in the darkness and it was so peaceful. No pain. No longing. No hurt. No grief. It was beautiful. Until suddenly light flooded my vision. “Dude. Seriously. You have been in bed for long enough. Time for us to go grab some iced coffee and start looking for a new job.” Cruel hands grabbed my warm blanket and pulled it off the bed. “Enough wallowing. Let’s go, shower time.”
Groaning as the last remnants of the dream faded I allowed myself to be dragged into the bathroom. “I hate you.” I mumbled. “Snort. I know. Love you too. Breakfast is waiting when you get done.” A soft shove, bathroom door closing and I stood and stared at the space cat shower curtain for a minute before I sighed and gave in. Best friends can be such a pain in the ass.