Cliff – Låpsley
“Take me to the cliffs, there is a boy, heart is for sale, and he is shaking
I walk close to the edge with this boy without a name, I try to save him.”
She kicks off her shoes and the sharp grass pricks at her burning feet. Her new sandals have rubbed a hole in the skin on the arch of her foot and it feels raw. The pure relief of being barefoot almost makes her cry.
She pulls up her dress to above her knees and she begins to climb the hill.
The sandals stay where they are.
Her hair is curled where it is pressed against the damp skin of her neck. She wishes she had brought a hair tie. She usually has one around her wrist but today a thin, silver bracelet is there in its place.
A slight breeze sweeps in off the ocean and, for a moment, the world breathes in. It’s quiet, as if suspended, and then, without warning, the world breathes out once more. The ocean crashes against the rocks below and the grass flickers like a shoal of fish. Gulls screech as they swoop above. Daisy heads nod as she passes them.
All is as it was and as it should be.
At the top of the cliff, the town can be seen below. The small houses, painted in peeling pastels, the corner shop and the jetty that cuts into the dark blue. She takes a moment to watch Frank the Fisherman cast his net. It stretches out and hangs in the sky briefly before it falls and is lost among the waves.
There’s a boy standing at the edge of the cliff. He’s facing the ocean and she can’t see his face. His shoulders are set and rigid.
“Hello,” she says and her words are dragged away by the wind. The boy must hear regardless because he turns around.
His heart is small but it’s beating still. A twist of disappointment takes hold. The girl can’t help but stare at the red tinge that has brushed his collarbones, spreading out across his chest and snaking up to his shoulders.
“Fresh,” she mutters, unable to look away from his skin. The colour is so vibrant against his flesh, against the grey sky.
“She left me,” the boy says.
She nods and bites her thumbnail, turning and spitting the shard of nail out off the cliff edge. The girl holds her hands out, palms facing the ocean, feeling the salt spray splash every time the waves surge.
“Why did she leave me?”
The girl nods again.
“Her parents moved away. Out of town. They left yesterday,” he says. “It wasn’t her choice.”
The girl allows a small smile to pass across her lips. That explains the thrum of his heart.
Still here, it says. Still here, still here.
“And what about you?”
The girl pauses. There’s no point pretending. She had noticed this morning that the dark bruise of her heart-blood had spread to her fingertips, following the veins up her forearm and marbling the palms of her hands.
“He left me,” the girl says.
The girl says nothing.
“Because he couldn’t stay?” the boy asks.
“Because he wouldn’t stay.”
The boy reaches over and holds her hand. It’s cold and sea-spray wet.
“You shouldn’t be here,” says the girl. “This place isn’t for you.”
The boy says nothing but just stares out to the ocean. The world he’s living in isn’t hers. The boy is separate.
“Good luck,” she says and let’s his hand go. It falls to his side.
The boy doesn’t say it back. There wouldn’t be much point.
On her way back down to the village, the girl passes another boy. His neck is dark; long and thin tendrils criss-cross his jaw. His jugular pulses with darkness; every beat spreads the black blush further, his ears, his cheekbones, his brows.
His eyes meet hers. There’s something there.
She will return to the cliff tomorrow.