I lie with my toes pointing to the moon and wonder if you ever did the same. I like to come up here. I think it’s because I used to see you everywhere- the coffee shop, the movies. Now this is the only place I feel like I can really see you.
I think over all the days we spent here. It was our place, nobody could touch us here.
(paragraph should be in italics) You take the lighter out of your pocket and offer me a cigarette.
“Aren’t you worried those will kill you one day?” I ask you. You shrug and light it anyway.
The moonlight reflects on your eyes, I wonder if it knows how bright and blue and full of life they are. You sit down on the icy grass next to me.
“We’re at the highest point in the city right now, you know.” You tell me. I shrug.
“I think that’s a myth. Nobody comes up here, if it was the highest place then surely more people would come?” I say.
“Ah, see it’s a secret. My dad found this place when he was a kid, I’m the only person he told. Then I told you.” you say. I feel an unspoken honour.
We used to come up here all the time, just you and me. You used to dangle your legs off the edge of the cliff and I would scream and shout for you to come away, but you were never fazed.
The smell of the sea air sends goose bumps straight down my spine, it doesn’t feel right being here without you.
(paragraph should be in italics) “Here, take my hand.” You tell me. I look at you, unsure.
“I promise I won’t let you fall.” You say. I look at you, unconvinced, you try again. “Close your eyes, I’ve got you, just don't look down.” I take the hand you offer me and grip onto it so tight I feel I might break it. You pull me back up from the side and smile at me as I sit safely on the grass again, shaking. You laugh, and suddenly I am trying to forget how good it sounds.
“Climbing’s easy, you just haven't had any practice. You’ll get better, I’ll help you.” You tell me.
I stand up and slowly take a step closer to the edge of the cliff. I look out at the horizon and see the eagles making their night-time kills and the waves lapping against the rocks far down below.
I wonder if you saw all of it. I wonder if you listened as the rocks whispered their taunts to the ocean. I wonder if you heard the noise of the grumbling thunder miles into the distance.
I wonder how you could see all the beauty of what was in front of you and still do it.
(paragraph should be in italics) Your skin looks like the ash of all the years we burnt while getting here. I’m as ghostly and pale as the breath we are now full of.
I had never seen you cry before now. You scream and curse the mountain and stamp your feet. I beg you to stop, I don’t know what is happening to you.
It starts raining, your hair falls to your face. And I realise something. I realise quite how much I love the boy in front of me.
I take your trembling hand, and tell you the same thing you told me just weeks before.
“You’ll get better, I’ll help you.”
But I wasn’t good enough.
I remember the weeks before it happened. Your parents called me saying you were missing; looking back, the panic in their voice makes me think they knew what was happening to you. I wish they had told me. I wish I wasn’t so stupid to miss it.
I knew were you were instantly.
My heart was hammering in my chest. I had no idea what I was going to find.
(paragraph should be in italics) I run up to the mountain. The rain is so heavy it takes me a second to see you properly.
You are thrashing your hands into the soil and screaming so loud that all the swallows have long since flown away from the small shrubs surrounding you.
I throw myself on the ground next to you and grab your hands. You look up at me. Tears rolling down your cheeks. A gaping cut in your head is bleeding down your face and your hands are bruised and covered in blood.
Rain drips off your muddy chin. I don't know if it’s the cold or the fear, but your body is shaking violently.
I embrace you and take your hands gently. I pull off my hoodie and use it to wipe away the blood and water from your forehead and your hands.
“I don’t know what happened. I don’t remember coming here, I…” You stammer. The sheer look of panic in your face shatters my heart into a thousand tiny pieces. I don’t know how to help you.
“It’s okay. It’s gonna be okay.” I tell you, but you know I’m lying.
You got progressively worse in the weeks after that. I could see your behaviour deteriorating, like you didn’t care for anything or anybody anymore. Even me.
I remember the last time we both came up here together. You gave me that box, remember? It had everything in it. Your favourite movies, books, letters you gave your parents as a kid, dreams and secrets you never told anybody.
I asked you why you were giving it to me, you wouldn’t say. But you made me promise I wouldn’t open it yet. You wouldn’t tell me when I could, all you said was ‘when the time is right.’
I hated you for that. For leaving me with that box. At the time I thought it was such an honour, I was the only person you trusted with all the deepest parts of yourself. But that goddamn box was a curse.
I spent months obsessing over it, every little detail- it made me feel as though you were still with me. I ran my fingers along the binding of a worn book you must have read countless times. I lost myself in all the scraps of paper you had scrawled your hopes and dreams on, and let my tears run onto the secrets you bound in that leather book.
(paragraph should be in italics) “Promise me.” You say.
“I don’t understand. Why are you giving it to me?”
“Just promise me. Please.” You beg.
“Okay, I promise. But when can I?”
“When the time is right.”
“How will I know that though?”
“You just will, I’m sorry.” you say.
You seem different. Like you’ve got it all figured out, I can't help but feel there’s something I don't know.
I take the box from my bag. My hands won't stop shaking. The wood of it is worn from the amount of times I have examined it, and your smudged name is scrawled on the top in permanent marker.
I open it. The hinges creek and beg me not to, they clutch on and wobble, almost falling off.
For the last time, I examine all the memoirs you left me. More careful than ever.
I see you for the final time. Your face smiling, and then crying. You dance in the moonlight in front of me and I laugh as you take my hand and lead me into a slow dance. You have never looked better.
You are ghostly pale, but your eyes still bright. You sit next to me. You don’t speak, but your body next to mine is all the comfort I need. The moon is the only thing that can see us now. We are completely alone but for a few night owls.
It is at least an hour before either one of us moves, yet it feels like barely a minute.
I go to the box, you watch me- still completely silent.
I soak up every part of you. Breathe in your past and swallow the words you wrote. Memorising the way you drew the circles above your i’s and the way you wrote your name with little care as though it wasn’t worth anything.
I hold the box over the cliff edge. The swallows dance and sing below, egging me on.
I turn and look at you. You give me a reassuring nod, and I know it’s going to be okay.
Then I do the one thing I am most terrified to do. I wonder if this is how you felt when you jumped.
Two deep breaths and I let it go. Released into the air of the only place we felt safe.
It takes a minute for me to hear the splash of it falling into the water.
The ghostly illusion of you inside of my head has dispersed into a thousand tiny particles. Your voice is now but an echo in my mind. By the time I turn back around, you are gone, and for real this time.
I feel both a sense of relief and fear. A weight has lifted off my crumbling shoulders, but I feel more scared than ever, because that feeling was my shelter from knowing you were really gone. And already I feel myself missing it, longing for you back in my arms again.
Once, you told me a story about a boy who gave too much. He loved the sky and the sea and the stars and found beauty in everything, except himself. He had been taught how to be kind to strangers and how to love even those who were cruel to him; but nobody ever taught him what to do when he couldn’t love himself.
You told me some people aren’t made for this world, that their souls just don't match with their brain and there’s nothing anyone can do, they just aren’t right for earth yet.
I never quite understood what you meant, I think maybe now I do.
I sit and dangle my legs off the edge of the cliff we loved so much, not scared anymore. Just alone, alone and missing you.