By Thomas Edwards
He stood alone on top of the hill. The sky had finally turned to night, pin-pricked by the eyes of angels. For three months he had pursued her. For three whole months he had felt the unending desire and longing fill his heart, only to be swept aside by a cruel callous blow. He now felt different; emptier, a lighter form of his former self. He looked out at the scene before him. The city-scape was spread out, its fingers never ceasing to expand into the horizon. It was home but also his prison. He could never truly feel that it was a place to live, never truly comforted by the idea of remaining here, and always too cowardly to move on. All he longed for was a simple life; happiness, family, friends and a warm, comfortable house to enjoy them all.
A fresh breeze swept up from edge of the cliff, catching his hair and whipping his face. He turned his eyes away for a moment and looked back at his car. The engine was still running and he stood, blinded as he looked directly at the headlights. They were two bright eyes looking at him, illuminating his form, casting a giant shadow behind him. The shadow twisted his form into a monstrous shape, showing the daemon in his silhouette. The chill breeze wrapped around him, causing his body to shiver; tip to toe. He turned again to the city. He loved this view. It was here his father had taken him as a boy. Now, he was alone. In the distance he could hear sirens winding their way through the streets and car horns declaring their anger to the world. All of them carried on the breath of the wind from far below.
It was time to go.
He walked back to the car and sat in the front seat. Closing the door behind him, he felt the heat from the heaters slowly breathe life back into his body. Each week he took the same trip. Just to see the view. He put his seat belt on, adjusted his seat and began to play with the dials of the radio. The signal was never good up here. He couldn’t get the station he wanted, always distorted by the crackles of the waves. He reached under his seat for his CD collection. His hand brushed against something sticky, perhaps an old sweet from a past journey. His eyes didn’t look to see. Grappling in the dark beneath his hands finally fell upon his prize; Bon Jovi’s Crossroads. All of his favourites on one disk. A sing along bonanza. He put the CD in the stereo, hearing the old, familiar, mechanical whir as it was read. The familiar riff of living on a prayer filled his car once more. Turning the dial to 20, he sat back and let the music soak over him.
It didn’t feel right.
This wasn’t the right song at all.
He needed something else. Something he could truly sing along with. He skipped through the songs until he found the one he always wanted. Now it was right.
He looked to his left. She hadn’t moved since he had put her in the car. She’d just sat there. Her head slumped onto her left shoulder, a look of peace on her face. Her hair fell over her left eye. He reached over and brushed it away, tucking it back behind her ear. He felt the tingle in his fingers as his skin touched hers; he let them linger a little longer on her cheek, running his finger down her face, circling her lips. Her skin felt warm to the touch. He had aimed the heaters to keep her so. Her eyes were closed, but he knew their hazel beauty lay hidden behind her soft lids. He leaned over and kissed her forehead. He smelt her hair as he came near, blueberry and cinnamon. Always clean. She always smelt so clean.
Pulling back again, he made sure that her seat belt was securely fastened. Safety always a main concern of his. He put his own seatbelt into its buckle. The lock clicked. He felt warm once more, so he turned down the heaters; a roar to a whisper.
“When you say your prayers, try to understand. I’ve made mistakes, I’m just a man.”
The engine ticked over. He put the car in gear and slowly began to reverse back down the lane. There wasn’t enough space to turn at the top. The wheels crunched the pebbles below sending some of them popping off in different directions. The car slowly made its way back towards the tree line, their long arms reaching overhead, blocking the starlit night with their canopy. He felt the car’s rear wheels reach the cattle grid behind him and stopped.
He looked at her once more.
She seemed more beautiful than ever. She had attained all the Greeks of old implored for. A modern day Patroclus, beautiful for all-time. A single tear made its way down his cheek; leaving its wet trail glistening as it fell.
No more walks in the wood.
He didn’t notice his hand moving the gear stick. The world felt so much lighter now. His mind felt more at ease. He felt as though he was witnessing his life from outside of his body; Above the car, swaying in the evening breeze, like a kite in a child’s hand. He wanted the wind to take him high into the clouds, to dance with the birds, to reach for the stars, to touch the moon. Gravity had no power over him now, he was free to do as he wished.
‘Release me child. Let my fly, let me soar.’
His foot pressed down until it reached the floor.