by Lee Conde
As far as Rosa was concerned, she was already dead. The moment Mark took his own life, and took her beautiful baby girls with him, her life had ended. He had taken the marriage split badly, sinking into a deep depression, but she hadn’t expected what was to come next.
It was a little over six weeks since that day, but Rosa would never recover, and she knew it. The darkness within was all consuming. Rosa felt the wind and even the hailstones laughing at her, egging her on even, as her hands formed shields for her red rimmed eyes.
Rosa was staring into the abyss, the dark raging swell that was the sea over five hundred feet below, and her imagination was running away. She could see herself, contorted, bloodied, arms and legs twisted and broken, dragged off the rocks at the foot of the cliff by the icy clutches of her eventual grave. Tears were rolling down her cheeks and on into the darkness below, she half battled & half welcomed that vision of a violent end. A constant struggle to focus through the fog of the Gin haze, the near empty bottle lay close by, mocking her. The Gin had been her best friend for the last torturous, tumultuous month. What she wanted more than anything in the world now though was closure, for it all to end. That’s when the darkness closed around her.
Eve kept tossing and turning, frustrated, the tick-tock sound normally so relaxing wearing her down. She felt thoroughly defeated, and was compelled to jump in the car, drawn to her place of solace. She had split from her boyfriend, Mark Harris, a man she had idolised, while out rambling on the stunningly beautiful South Downs Way. It was here she discovered he was married with children, a secret he’d managed to keep from her for a year before it burdened him too much and he’d told her everything. She’d felt so stupid.
She had spent hours sitting atop the white cliffs at Beachy Head consoling herself. The place made her feel vulnerable, but she found it to be very meditative, strangely calming. She was aware of it’s infamous reputation as a suicide hotspot, but perhaps it was part of why it made her feel the way she did.
Eve had heard about a recent and deeply shocking incident when a man threw himself over and took his two children with him. She just couldn’t understand what could drive a Father to do something so horrific. She pulled the car off the road just beyond the Hotel, and cut the engine. The weather was atrocious. She questioned her own sanity looking out into the storm, and for a minute thought to turn back, but she’d made it this far, she’d be damned if she would head for home now.
Eve trudged up towards the cliffs edge, the wind and rain wreaking havoc with her hair. She stood tall, invited the elements to do their worst, and breathed in the darkness. She felt at one with nature, some sort of primal aura surrounding her. It didn’t last. She dropped to her knees, tears and rain stung her face. She thought about all the good times she’d had with Mark. They loved to explore the Downs together, where they walked hand in hand, spending summer evenings together before he had to go to work on the night shift, he’d said. She did suspect he hadn’t told the whole truth of course, but it was clear now she’d buried those thoughts, and fallen for him completely.
Daylight was imminent, first light would soon appear on the horizon so Eve she stood up to leave, scanning the horizon, and that’s when she noticed what looked like a bundle further along. As she approached, it soon became clear through the darkness it was the outline of a woman.
“Hello, wake up, are you ok, wake up!” Eve shouted as she shook the woman. She felt for a pulse, it was there which was a relief. She noticed the Gin bottle nearby which explained a lot but she needed to make sure she was ok. She shook her some more, and she stirred somewhat, more of a groan than anything. Eve noticed how rough the woman looked, like she had been drunk for a lot longer than just this night. She looked a mess, soaked to the bone and probably freezing, her dark hair was matted and stuck to her face, skin sallow and deep dark circles around her eyes, but still she could see there was an innate beauty through the rough exterior. The woman started to come round, groaning she opened her eyes, but quickly bent double and vomited everywhere. This continued for a few minutes. Eve wasn’t sure the woman could bring anything else up she’d retched for that long, “the poor soul”, Eve thought.
Rosa wiped her vomit caked mouth, “Leave me alone!” she managed to shout. Her head was spinning and hurt, a lot. “You don’t want to get involved with me, go now so I can finish this” she spat. Her mouth was so dry, her throat hurt too and she tried to spit out more of the sticky remnants of vomit. She wondered how long she’d been there for, and despite the fact she felt very ill from the Gin, she started remembering why she had come there.
“Are you ok, what’s happened?” said Eve, clearly worried for the woman. “What’s your name? Can you tell me your name?” Eve asked in a loud, deliberate and slow manner.
“Rosa” the woman managed to whisper out.
“I’m Eve, I just spotted you from over there. I didn’t expect to see anyone else out here at this ridiculous time, and in this weather. You must be freezing you’re soaked to the bone”. Eve said.
“Don’t feel cold, just numb, empty, and sick” said Rosa.
“What are you doing here?” Eve asked.
“I can’t take it anymore, I don’t give a shit anymore,I came here to end it” Rosa said defiantly, almost like she was trying to convince herself she had it in her.
Eve sat down, her hand now feeling how sodden the wool of Rosa’s cardigan was, trying to comfort her as much as she could. Eve could only think about getting distance between the two of them and the cliff’s edge.
Rosa suddenly started rambling, incoherently at first but then Eve picked it up. “I don’t know why he did it. It doesn’t make sense. I knew he was depressed, but my beautiful girls as well”.
It dawned on Eve that Rosa was talking about the recent suicide she’d heard about where the man dragged his children over with him. Eve moved her mouth, but silence. This woman, Rosa, would carry the scars her whole life, if she managed to survive Eve thought.
Rosa looked quizzical and said “why are you up here at this time anyway, in the storm?”
“I couldn’t sleep” replied Eve, “and this is where I come to think when I’m feeling low and anxious. I have fond memories of being here, walking on the downs. It’s also where I broke up with my boyfriend. I find this place has a calming influence when my mind races away with itself.” Eve said.
“I’m sorry to hear about your boyfriend” said Rosa.
“Yeah it was a tough time, especially when you think you know someone you’re in love with” said Eve. “Then they tell you they’ve been married and had a family the whole time” she added. “I was in love with him and he broke my heart, I had to end it” said Eve, as tears filled her eyes.
Eve looked to the heavens and bellowed “Why, why, why. You’ve got a lot to answer for Mark Harris!”
Rosa felt a jolt in her head, her heart raced, her mind all a whirl, she managed to sort of whisper, “Mark Harris? My husband?”
“Oh no, this can’t be happening”, Eve thought, gasping for breath. “It can’t be, the man who killed his own two children along with himself? It can’t be the same one. This wasn’t making sense” her mind raced.
Eve stood up. The man she loved, the man Rosa had loved, was responsible for all of this? She couldn’t speak. She wanted to say something, she opened her mouth but words wouldn’t come out.
Rosa could feel rage building inside of her, her heart beat so fast and hard, her head was flushed, she swallowed hard as a lump formed in her throat. She was struggling with this.
It was all clear now to Rosa, she had to do what she came to do, it was time. She stood, summoning all remnants of any strength she had, she charged at Eve, grabbing her, wrapping her arms around her, and clutching her tightly. She pushed on, screaming his name as they plunged screaming deep into the darkness.