She stands on the cliff edge as a chill wind tugs at her coat.
Anna hears this in her head; can see it on the page. She’s become both character and creator, standing here, looking down at the waves crashing onto the rocks. She imagines her old raincoat blowing backwards. Like a cloak. Yes, a cloak. This is not a good place, though. Further on would be better.
Here. The rocks are spiked. It will be instant. And then there will be nothing. Our little life is rounded with a sleep.
But, wait. The rocks further along are rounder, softening into a circle. It is an interesting rockscape, a maelstrom in its centre. Maelstrom. She spells it: m-a-e. Swirling turbulent circles of water. Where a body could be lost. Could be sucked into the cavernous dark and never found.
Would that leave Carl bereft and searching, scanning the surface of the water? She wonders if he would come like a sad sailor every night to gaze at the sea, to wait for his wife’s body to float to the surface.
He would drown in booze at the pub and Jackie the landlady would display her sympathetic face. She pretends she’s a good listener but watch closely and those pale eyes, lashes caked with mascara, glaze over. Men tell her about their frigid wives. Maybe Carl tells her that his wife is cold with him. It’s true. She is. His rough pawing makes her grit her teeth. She pretends headaches, she pretends sleep, anything to avoid his whisky breath, his pinching hands.
For Sylvia a gas oven, for Virginia the wide river and a pocketful of stones. Sappho, all those centuries ago, took a leap into the abyss. A moment, perhaps, when she felt that she was flying.
Anna moves back, biting at her thumbnail. There must be a way to die that is original, not influenced by writers she loves.
It’s a nice hobby, Carl says, this writing thing. But why don’t you do something where you meet people. Make some friends for Christ’s sake.
She must think of a creative death. A creative life evaded her but she died a creative death.
Anna turns, scraping the mud from her shoe, wondering if she has time to change before Carl sees her.
He stands on the cliff edge as a chill wind tugs at his coat. His strange and beautiful wife smiles at him, steps back. Carl feels a sudden hard pressure on his spine, hears a whispered goodbye, takes a last look at that turbulent maelstrom – before plunging downwards, downwards, into the abyss.
published 4 October 2011