The Cliff


Raider Times photo / Alicia Karunaratne / Word Painter

Art By Alicia Karunaratne

The man peered over the edge. It was clear. He could go. All he wanted to do was end everything. The pain would be finally over. However, he stalled. His toes dangled off of the tall stone wall, atop a cliff. Three. Two. He stayed still. 

The man thought about his two best friends that he lost in a tragic car accident. Not just the obvious stuff about them, like his friend Jayden’s humor, or his friend Emmett’s energy, but the little things. Jayden’s handwriting on notes they had passed to one another in class, the sloppy chicken scratch scribbled all over the page, and how much he missed deciphering what it said. He remembered Emmett’s tea addiction and every time it was too hot, he would stick out his tongue and pant. He missed all of it. Both boys laughing, strutting down the hallways of their old high school, brought a tear to the man’s eyes. The pranks the boys played on their teachers– whether it was super gluing their butts to their chairs or putting powdered milk in their rainboots– he almost cracked a smile thinking about them, but couldn’t. 

What would Jayden and Emmett say if they knew that he was about to jump? Would they shun him? He continued to watch the empty path.  Still no one in sight. Three. Two. No, he couldn’t do it. His heart ached as his friends’ laughs and smiles haunted him. Then the man thought about his daughter. No older than two years old, she had passed away from a heart condition. He thought about her big brown eyes, and her saying “please don’t leave.” That always broke his heart. 

What would his daughter think of him if he jumped? Would she cry? The man just wanted to cradle the little girl in his arms once more. He was alone. The man took a deep breath, looking down once again, and it was still clear. However, he saw the three people he loved the most shaking their heads. They would never want him to jump. All three of them wanted him to continue his life on earth. However, life was just too hard. He was lonely. No friends, barely any family, and no one who wanted to be around him. They would say his attitude was toxic, and they couldn’t bear hanging out with a man like him who only moped around. 

His wife divorced him a year after their daughter died, three months after his best friends died. It tore him to pieces. He remembered her coming behind him, hugging his waist, and kissing wherever she could reach. But that all changed. The love died when his personality did. Before he fell into this horrid slump he was a kind, lovable husband, who always loved fun. Once they died, he was a shell of his former self. He couldn’t smile, laugh or sometimes even get up in the morning. The woman couldn’t take it anymore. 

The man counted down again. However, when he reached one, he stayed, looking up at the sky. He wanted his friends back, his daughter back, and his old life back. If he could just join them, somewhere mysterious and far. A form of afterlife. If only he could have been in the car with the men, or taken the heart condition from his daughter and given it to himself. He couldn’t though. Fate is fate, and this was his. He was meant to be alone, and by himself, for the rest of his life. Rain slowly started to poor out of the sky as the man stood atop the cliff. Thunder struck the land, one boom after another. This time he was going to do it. The man counted once more. Three. Two. Boom, another peal of thunder startled him, as he fell backwards, to the end of the stone wall he stood upon. The man crept back to the edge of the wall, where an old man stood below. The man on the path peered up at the man on the wall. He was elderly, at least 70 years old.

“Whatcha doin’ up there kid?” The man yelled, “It’s a thunderstorm. C’mon, get inside somewhere!”

“Erm…Sorry,” The man bolted. Fate was not on his side this time. Or maybe fate had been on his side for once. Whatever happened, he was safe, and alive. The man dashed for shelter, a nearby church. He plopped down on a back pew and sobbed. His life was far from over. 

Photo taken by Brianna Hume



(Published April 2021)