The Cliff

August 28, 2012
By seas.collide PLATINUM, Lawrenceville, Georgia
seas.collide PLATINUM, Lawrenceville, Georgia
21 articles 0 photos 6 comments

Favorite Quote:
"It seems only yesterday I used to believe there was nothing under my skin but light. If you cut me I could shine." - Billy Collins

The world was old, and he was tired. He noticed that the cliff was not as high as others he had climbed, but it would serve its purpose. Leaning over the edge was enough to assure him of that. Waves crashed relentlessly against the jagged rocks below, leaving an icy mist in their wake. They reminded him of the mountains of Asia and how they seemed to break apart the crust of the earth for the sole purpose of reaching the sun.

His life had been driven by the thirst for discovery, the need to dig his nails into the earth and tear apart its flesh to find what was hidden beneath. He could not remember a point in his history when he had not felt such an urge. Since he was old enough to walk, he had spent his time ducking through the alleyways of his city’s core, peeking into sun-laden rooms of clay only to find a mother baking bread, her leathered hands pressing a quiet pulse into a mound of dough. The familiar sensation of burning muscles followed him through his childhood as he carried himself over the hills towards the sun outside the city walls. His mother often complained of feeling decades older than she should. “Chasing you is a full time job,” she would sigh. “You must learn to sit still.” But the next day, as always, he would forget to gather water in favor of following the stream a few miles further than the day before. When he reached the age of manhood, he ached to escape his home, to chase the sun until he found the place where it sunk beneath the skyline.

He dedicated his being to exploration. Education and love were fleeting desires, ultimately disregarded if it meant renouncing his claim on the earth and her secrets. He found work on a ship for little pay, but he gladly exchanged the luxury of money for the lull of his mistress’s gentle waves under a sky splashed with stars.

Through his time on earth, he saw wonders untold from every corner of the globe, grabbing the fruit of life and feeling the juice run down his face in heavy streams. The sands of the east felt rough on his tired skin, yet as soft and warm as the eyes of the elephant in Asia. Never before had he seen so brilliant a sunset as the pool of gold, red, and purple that soaked the northern snow in light. The people were almost as incredible as the places, though none impressed him as much as the dark-haired lady from the tavern in Mexico, who met his eyes and ducked shyly into the shadows. Her tinkling laugh still rang in the back of his mind when the quiet overtook him in the night. “Will you stay with me?” she whispered into his ear, and he nearly did. But the chilled dawn called him from her bed in the morning, and he slipped back onto his ship while she remained tangled in the sheets and memories of his body.

That was years ago, a lifetime it seemed, but he sometimes caught himself wondering if he would have been happier if he had stayed. The years had been good to him - his body remained strong and healthy despite the constant running, fighting, exploring. He could no longer deny, though, that he was slowing. His muscles, sturdy, no longer held the energy of his boyhood. He had begun to run less, choosing instead to walk. He had told himself that he was merely appreciating the scenery. He had rushed through the lush valleys and rocky peaks of his youth, leaving only vague memories of their true magnitude. I’m slowing down to appreciate my earth, he said. But one can only deny the truth for so long before it smashes through even the strongest defenses.

And that was how he ended up here on the cliff, his life teetering in the balance as he rocked back and forth on his calloused feet. He could see his ship aground in the distance. It was pushed onto the sand of the island against a backdrop of dense forest - a forest he would never know. It seemed to him as if this were the last place in the world. He had seen and done all there was, his eyes heavy with the memories of a well-lived life. This island, this piece of the world, was the stitch to heal the aching in his heart; the ache to discover, explore, unearth. And that was why, he decided, he could not go through with it.

To live without exploring this land would be tortuous, but to explore it would mean the end of his journey. From his first steps, he longed to bury himself in the secrets of this world, and until now he had succeeded. He had grown drunk off the spirits of pure life. Now he had reached a turning point; a choice must be made.

He knew not what the next life held for him. Dead men tell no tales, and he feared that when his time came, his light would be extinguished and he would be left to rot in the dark. To die with passion is a beautiful thing, he told himself, and to die fulfilled is to deny this beauty. He could not bear the burden of knowledge and had no desire to live in a world where there were no mysteries to be solved. This line of thinking led him to the mist-drenched cliff where he currently stood. He came directly to the edge, not allowing himself even the chance to stop and admire the blossoming orange petals that adorned the vines of the trees. There would be time for that after the fact.

As he closed his tired eyes against the blinding sun, the very fibers of his being screamed against it. The pulse of his blood steadily urged him to turn back and find the source of the thick sweet smell in the air. Pineapples, maybe, fallen from the trees and decaying into the sand. But he edged closer still to the drop. To allow this wilderness to keep its secrecy was to tie himself to this earth and its wonders, to comfort himself against the thought that death was silence. He bound himself to the earth through this promise to her. And it was with this last thought that a smile stretched across his face and a sigh escaped onto the breeze. He let himself fall freely into the waiting arms of his true love.

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