<This one is long, so please click the ‘Read More’ button. It was written from a prompt from Allen (“a love letter dropped in a popular suicide site”), so many thanks to him! Tough one to write…>
It was one of those places young lovers drove to when they wanted to be alone. Away from the prying eyes of parents and other adult types, where there were no questions, judgements, or condescending sighs. A place where they could look up at the stars, without the problem of light pollution, and indulge in what little, true romanticism there was left without it becoming a cliché. A place where futures were made, and broken, through promises made and rescinded in outbursts of uncontrollable emotion.
Sometimes, those broken promises would tip people over the edge. Already encumbered by the increasing pressures of education and adolescence, they’d feel helpless and alone. They’d try to reach out; a phone call to a loved one with the hope of some encouraging words, only to be disappointed. They would stand on the edge of huge, chalk cliffs, staring out at the dark, hulking mass of water that was the Atlantic Ocean. They would listen to the waves violently crashing against the rocks below, wondering where it all went wrong.
Then, after hours of twisted thought, and as the sun rose before them, they’d right those wrongs the only way their tortured minds could see how.
For Windfury Point had also developed a reputation as a suicide site.
It was no different for Ellie. An incredibly smart girl for her sixteen years, she was coming up to her final exams and the pressure from her parents had been ramped up a gear. They expected straight-A grades, nothing less, and in their version of her future, she was to be a successful lawyer. She was the shining star in the family, they’d told her, and because of that, her path in life had become non-negotiable. Whatever she wanted was rejected, whatever she said went unheard. Her parents knew best, and they did not attempt to ease up from their control of her over the years. She’d dealt with all this with an incredible sense of maturity, however, and it was not this that drove her to the Point that night.
It was a boy named Danny.
Danny was one of the popular kids at school, and someone who Ellie had admired from afar for several years. They’d been in the same class since high school began, but he had never acknowledged her in the way that her burgeoning hormones would have liked. Five years with nothing as much as a lingering gaze, or a knowing smile. Nothing that reassured Ellie that he knew who she was, knew she was more than an unfamiliar face in an overcrowded classroom. Nothing until the last term before the exams, that is.
Shortly before the period of study leave students were given as preparation for those exams, there was a party of sorts. A grand ball for the students to blow off steam before the most important series of events in their young lives so far. Naturally, everyone was to attend, whatever their social status at school. For most, this was a welcome distraction, and a chance to ensure they left school and took their steps into the adult world armed with some positive memories.
With the help of her closest friend, Ellie picked out a killer dress, applied a little makeup, slipped on her heels and headed to the school gymnasium. To walk through those doors was a big deal to all the students, male and female alike. Appearances were to be judged harshly by a council of jealous and prejudiced peers, and so extra effort was made to prevent unfavourable opinions from even being thought. Their one big chance to make the kinds of impressions that got them their memories. Ellie was optimistic, for once; that she could convert her final chance to make Danny notice her, and therefore secure her memories. She walked through those doors with her head held high, and a fire in her heart.
It was a fire that was cruelly extinguished as the evening wore on. The details weren’t important; nothing but the realisation that she had become the victim of a shallow, torturous prank courtesy of Danny himself. Convincing her to abandon every ounce of the common sense she once held dear, for nothing but a fleeting moment of emotional euphoria. A feeling of being wanted, only for that feeling to be ripped away just when she felt closest to actually having it. All Ellie could conclude in her devastation was that all of those fears, doubts and insecurities she’d had about herself had just been confirmed.
Ellie left the gymnasium without anyone as much as noticing. Why would they? She put on her jacket, and flagged a passing taxi. The driver was an elderly man with a kindly face, and he displayed genuine concern when she told him her destination. She dismissed his fears, telling him truthfully that she lived close. As they turned onto the road leading to the Point’s car park, a set of headlights sped towards them in the opposite direction. Ellie duck her head hurriedly, as the car that passed somehow looked familiar. She didn’t want anyone to know she’d come here. She thanked the driver when they arrived, paid her fare with a sizeable tip, and got out.
She stood for a moment or two as the driver pulled away, feeling the cool sea breeze upon her face. Then she started walking, slowly and deliberately, along the cliff edge. She wasn’t in a hurry, nor was she nervous. Having made her decision, she felt rather serene about it all, which puzzled her slightly. Why am I not afraid? As she walked, she gave some thought to this, and decided that it was because she felt a weight lifted from her shoulders. All that pressure she’d been under, all those people she’d felt she needed to please – dissipated in the moment of that decision. She smiled.
She reached the set of benches that marked the end of the cliff-top path, and sat down. It was late, pitch black and somewhat calm out at sea, and she decided to enjoy this peace for a little longer. Just watching, waiting, and wondering, but never what if? She closed her eyes, emptied her mind and found herself dozing off under the influence of the sea breeze. At first she tried to fight it, but then succumbed; it was a while before sunrise, and she wanted to do things as they had always been done here. She slept, undisturbed.
She awoke with a start. The first signs of daybreak were peeking out from the horizon before her, while behind her, the last few stars battled to keep their place high in the sky. She blinked a few times, eyes unaccustomed to the light, and yawned. It was early; her watch told her that it was before five a.m., which she thought was perfect timing. She stood up and stretched, bones cracking in her spine from the awkward position she’d slept in on the bench. The previous night’s peace still lingered, enough for her not to have any second thoughts as to her decision.
She wandered over to the cliff edge and gazed out at the ocean. It was calm this morning, deathly, and there was barely a sound over the ambient whisper of undersized waves coming and going. A lone seagull soared above her, hunting for its breakfast, piercing the relative silence with an urgent cry. She watched its fruitless efforts with a smile on her face. She seemed to notice smaller details much more; the blending of the grey and white on the gull’s wings, the ruffling of the feathers on its tail. Seeing things in such detail helped prolong the peace of mind, helped her appreciate the magnitude of all the things nature provided yet often went unappreciated. She wondered, for a fleeting moment, why she hadn’t come across this feeling previously. However, she’d already made up her mind, and no brief moment of peace would alleviate the vast pain inside her.
She walked forward slowly, inching closer to the vast drop she was about to take. Looking down, she felt the nerves creeping in; her hands began to shake. Not that this was at the impending leap, but more a long-standing fear of heights. Spooked into being afraid by her father, who’d made fun of her as a child while climbing an incredibly narrow set of winding, stone steps at an old castle. She took a step back, collecting her wits, and looked absent-mindedly at the warning sign that stood a handful of metres to her left. Ironic, really, that the sign put there to prevent fatal accidents had so many times proved useless.
Something, this time, was amiss with the sign. It wasn’t the usual graffiti, which the local council had to continuously remove. She took a step towards it, and noticed there was an envelope attached to it. Strange. Another step forward and she saw that it was actually addressed to her.Not just coincidence either, someone with the same first name, but her name – Ellie Thomas, Class 11F. She pulled it off, and held it in her hand, just staring at it in disbelief. Why would anyone address a letter to her? And how did they know she was here? The handwriting looked familiar, but she couldn’t place it. With shaking hands, she opened it up.
Whatever you may be about to do, just stop for a moment and allow me to try to change your mind. After all, there’s only one reason for coming here. I know – I’ve been here myself, staring down at the crashing waves, but I couldn’t go through with it. I’m hoping you’ll feel the same.
I read your blog, the one you thought nobody you knew would ever see. I’ve seen the way your head drops in class when those bitches make snide comments about you. I’ve seen the quiet determination with which you face projects, essays and exams. I’ve also seen the longing way you’ve watched that selfish idiot Danny as I’ve watched you all these years.
Sure, school has been hell for you, as it has for me, but remember this – it’s almost over. The clean break that you’ve needed is just around the corner, and although I understand being at breaking point and not wanting to go through another day of it, it deserves at least a chance to show you that it can get better.
I’ve always loved you, Ellie. Since the day I saw you as a five year old on primary school’s first day; since you took the apple I’d offered at lunch and your hand lingered on mine just a fraction of a second more than it perhaps should have. I always knew you were different, and that’s what I found most attractive. It deserves a chance to shine; not to be hidden away because some morons in school deem it sad or pitiful. It’s not – it’s you, and you’re far more beautiful than anyone could ever give you credit for.
I just wish that I could help you somehow, that I could do something to make all that pain go away. I’ve always been too afraid to say, but no more. I’d rather face the humiliation than lose you, even if I never had you to lose.
There’s always someone, Ellie, even if they’re not the person you expected. You’re never alone.
Tears rolling down her face, frozen by the wind, Ellie looked over the edge of the cliff once more. She was mere inches from the drop, and shaking more uncontrollably. Edward, the geeky kid in the back row…
Now she remembered, images coming flooding back to her. Receiving an apple because she’d had her lunch taken from her by a bigger kid on that first day, which had kickstarted her dislike of the social side of school. Her only Valentine’s card when she was thirteen. The beautiful pen she’d received as part of the school writing club’s Secret Santa project the following year. It all made sense.
She stepped back from the edge, still shaking.
Not today, she thought, and headed home, letter clutched tightly in her hand.
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- amusealex said: wonderful stuff, I am so enjoying your prose at the moment.
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