“Her eyes are closed and the rain stings as it hits her eyelids.” A friend gifted me that line once, but without a context it seemed destined to fester with the dust of my dreams until forgotten. But now, through the storm on the cragged edge of a Scarborough cliff, I see her. Her eyes are indeed closed but I’m unsure that the rain stings her eyelids, before it drips from her damp-darkened lashes, for she does not flinch. She is one with the soil, which quickens at her feet and with the wind, which whips her hair around her porcelain cheeks, and with the last light of the day as it blends with the mist into the sky into the sea. I cannot unsettle her. I can just watch.
Another figure, struggles hunched and breathless to the crest of the cliff. He has seen her and I know without looking for the detail of his face exactly what he is thinking. He sees a woman standing solitary, at the precipice of nothing, in conditions not found on postcards and thinks something must have occurred earlier in the day.
“Are you okay Miss?” He calls and, though I saw him open his wide, middle-aged mouth, the intrusion of his voice almost makes me drop my pen.
If she hears him above the swirl of wind and rain she pays no heed.
Her footwear, more appropriate for charging across vast planes of baked, golden sand in a Wild West movie, have sunk into the mire but if this concerns her she doesn’t show it. As she stands erect in the elements, the skirts of her coat blown about her, she is a vision of Nehalennia or perhaps, with that slight sigh in the corner of her eyes (a detail which always gives the impression of sadness somewhere deep inside even when she lights the world, by allowing it to glimpse her smile) Tin Han. Perhaps she is choosing the fate of the sailors invisible out in the backwaters of forever; either calling them to safety or guiding them to painful demise on the clot of sea-sharpened rocks below – though of course neither occurs.
“Maybe you should come away from the edge there Miss.” He calls, louder this time, determined to be heard above the roar of the night-time cliff. Determined to tear her from the roar of the night-time cliff.
She knows he is there and she knows he will never understand that the waves will never weigh as heavy as time. The moon, though just a small, white smudge, offers enough light, sparking off each shard of rain, to show that she remains resolute. He is determined to tear her away from here. He is determined to tear her from me.
“What are you doing out here Miss?”
And finally she surrenders to the stranger’s persistence and turns her sopping head, still bouncing with rain, a little in his direction. Her mouth she opens but her eyes she keeps tightly shut as if opening them would allow the way that she sees the world to fall out and give her away.
“I’m waiting for lucidity.” She offers weakly in one long, exasperated breath, but she is accompanied by a crack of thunder in a pitch-perfect harmony.
“Oh I wouldn’t fret too much Miss,” The stranger calls back. “That Lucy’s probably just runnin’ a bit late.”
And finally she lets her smile conquer her glistening face. She opens her eyes and turns back to the sea.