The sea was lapping at her feet now, the cold water slithering underneath her toes as the sand pulled away beneath her as the water receded. The waves were small and calm, placid like the mood she was in. It always calmed her coming here, walking down the perilous path that led from rocky outcrop at the top of the cliff. To her they were cliffs at least. Vast walls of rock keeping the sea and the world at bay. White cliffs that crumbled and creaked like the teeth of a slumbering giant.
She watched the little boat off in the distance, floating over the horizon; bobbing on the waves. Wondering what it would be like to be on that tiny vessel. Off to an unknown destination, casting her troubles and life overboard and setting off to the ends of the earth. Her dress flickered as the breeze blew in from the south, a small bit of spray spat at the bottom of the dress, marking her as an object of the ocean. Marking its territory. But she would not be owned, at least never again. She pulled at the flowers in her hand, twisting out the mauve petals from the peony bunch she loosely held in her hands. She squeezed one of them, bruising the skin and releasing a tiny bit of moisture which escaped into the salty air.
She came here for the silence and the solitude, but today she was haunted by the voices. The ghosts of those she knew that had followed her down the tumbling cliffs. They squawked and chattered, soliciting opinions and throwing comments like pebbles into the sea. She closed her eyes, but the sounds increased, twitterings of things she never asked to hear. She would never truly be alone, though it was the paradox of her desire. A wondrous dream that she chased, yet frightful of ever attaining it. Like chasing rainbows, she always came up empty yet surrounded with the multitude of others. Life dripping over her.
Dropping the flowers into the water, she watched as they descended in slow motion. The little helpers she took earlier we beginning to swim their own synchronised dance in her head now. The flowers separated like divorcing couples, sticking to each other while parts seemed to drift away with the tide. From the shore, she would have received respectful stares from passers by. Considerate looks for a soul caught up in a difficult moment, perhaps saying goodbye to a loved, one or remembering a time or a moment in life that had gone, corroded away into space like the rocks on the cliff. But she wasn’t saying goodbye, or thinking about anyone she loved. She was thinking only about herself, and how to unfix herself from the web she felt caught in.
She lifted her feet out of the sand, kicking off some seaweed which had begun to coil around her leg like a snake from the shallows. She looked back to the shore, the virgin sand glistened back at her, untouched today by those who sought out places to oil and tan themselves in the tangerine sun. She loved this place for that reason, that it was a quiet slither of the world that was her own.
Pulling the plaster off her arm, she folded it twice and popped it into her pocket. She pushed the hair back out of her eyes, securing it behind her ears while she squinted off into the distance. The boat she had seen was much further away now, battling the stronger currents she knew lay towards that area of sea. She looked at her watched, but realised she had taken it off earlier. She had left it on her bedside table. A tiny rebellious act, not to be controlled by time, or space, or matter. She had kept the ring on though, she twisted it now on her finger feeling the cool metal slide back and forth.
Some of the petals licked at her legs now, the approaching tide giving them free movement. One sloshed up her leg, sticking to it like a barnacle on a ship. She folded her arms and began to walk, slowly but determinedly into the sea.