This story is by Rita Harris and was part of our 2017 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Leaning serenely over the rail, Lexie found herself mesmerized by the wild beauty of Niagara falls and was tempted to cast herself into their torrent of irrevocableness if only to preserve the serendipitous sensation she was experiencing.
She traced the railing’s ornate scroll design contemplating that was all that separated her from eternity.
Lexie was enchanted by the turquoise water, the transformation into untainted white foam as the waterfalls cascaded, the spray emanating from them like a magical mist. In the hazy distance the autumn kissed leaves of magnificent centuries old trees radiated a myriad of colors.
As she stood, a lone fragile figure shivering in an unsuitable floaty dress, the sun turning her hair to shimmering gold and highlighting her exquisite beauty, she became aware of another solitary soul, intently studying her.
The setting sun gave him an ethereal guise, its glow seemingly radiating from him, not the other way around. He glided towards her, the mist ostensibly delivering him to her, a beautiful angel without wings. Lexie was captivated.
His eyes analyzed hers, delving into her psyche. His crooked smile caressed her cerebrally promising things unspeakable.
When he enveloped her tiny shivering hand in his great one, pulling her close and whispering in her ear, ‘I’m Nick, I’ve come for you’, she quivered with expectation. When his fingertips traced the contour of her face, Lexie’s being detonated with anticipated hedonism.
Sheltered in a period gazebo which was carefully concealed from the viewing area Nick ravenously possessed her. She felt like he was an emotional vampire and she his quarry, powerless to resist his possession of her body and senses.
Lexie felt she could fly, after that first time with Nick. She felt anything was possible, that her feet were walking just a little bit higher than the ground. ‘Is that possible?’ Lexie asked him.
‘Anything is possible’, Nick answered, indicating the rainbow that had materialized over the falls. The shards of color seemed to cut through the falls themselves and into the cavernous mouth of the cliffs that surrounded the shimmering turquoise lake, being devoured just as Nick had devoured her.
And he said those words that etched themselves into her brain forever. Her synapses screamed with delight as he repeated them, again and again.
He said it was her.
Her that he would love forever.
Her that he would die to defend.
Her that saved his earthly soul from a strange deathly calling inside him – a missive that echoed in her own heart.
As the sun set over the falls making it resemble a spent volcano, he professed she was the light and all that mattered in his darkness.
And she believed him. He gave her motive to subsist.
Disturbingly, all too soon Lexie noticed a foreign radiant presence lurking at the threshold of their world.
She beheld the longing looks they exchanged, almost felt the passion behind them, fighting to stay in, fighting harder to surge out. She saw, flickering in the glow of that new sunset over the same falls, their respective vanities leave their bodies and enchant each other, lighting their faces with lust and an ache she knew herself. As she witnessed their intimacy she found it impossible to disengage, even though every frame of that scene sliced her essence with the intensity and precision of a surgeon’s scalpel.
It was torture, watching such passion materialize on his handsome face for another instead of for her.
And then on another, and yet another. It was as if they were flavors of the month. Lexie shamelessly relished in their hurt and confusion when he abandoned them and returned his favors to her, the small part of her that was just chipped not broken luxuriated in his attention. For a moment, for each of those moments Lexie would think, ‘You are mine again.’
‘Anything is possible,’ Nick would promise as he consumed her with his old passion.
Eventually a day dusked when Lexie knew she had been irrevocably replaced. Ironically it was a youthful and naïve version of herself. It was like looking backward into the mirror of time.
‘She’s the one,’ Nick told Lexie, his dark eyes afire with lust, his thundering heart beating with a passion she had never witnessed before, visible even through his t-shirt. ‘You understand, don’t you? Anything really is possible,’ Nick professed, his jaw taut and brow furrowed.
Predictably, over time, this new love died down to glowing embers, and then cold finished ashes, and Lexie witnessed even that great passion turn to dust. He came to her for counsel, for she was still his best friend.
He came to her, his crooked smile promising things unspeakable in his usual customary way, breathing ‘anything is possible’ so softly in her ear that it was like a fairy had whispered.
Lexie was torn, experience and pain had sharpened her sense of self-preservation, but she feared her heart would betray her and she would be lured back into his ensnarement.
For she could still feel burning on her skin that look he would bestow on her, that special look meant just for her. That addictive look of love, his own special cocktail of pleasure and pain on ice. That unspeakable look, the one that caused her to dream her dreams, those naïve dreams of love and hope, that look she finally realized would be her ruin.
In a heart-beat she made the decision to leave. In another time and place, she managed to feel safe. She had discovered an escape hatch to another life.
Time, her enemy and her friend. Days turned to weeks, weeks to months, months to years, and years passed.
Memories softened and faded in the tumble dryer of time. Their sharp edges lost their clean lines and ability to cut. And her pain subsided to a dull ache that only clawed at her on fall evenings when a mist cloaked myriad colored leaves as the sun set, and the flickering lights from the sun threw shadows that confused her senses.
‘Distance is no object between the hearts of lovers’, Nick had once said to her. ‘I will always find you, anything is possible.’
Inevitably and yet impossibly, the orbits of their unconnected lives collide without warning. Lexie looks the other way, her head down, praying he won’t recognize her.
Time has changed them both. It is only his eyes, mesmerizingly evil and beautiful at the same time, that break the camouflage he wears of the lost years, and whispers to her that it is really him.
His face lights in recognition. ‘Wait,’ he appeals. Lexie shies away from the attraction of his orbit, but like a lost electron finds it too great to resist. She slows unintentionally, and he materializes at her side, his hand reaching out for her.
Lexie recoils, ‘don’t let him touch you’, her inner angel advises, ‘if he touches you it will happen again.’
‘We are old now my antagonistic lover, and what have we learnt? ‘ Lexie questions silently.
She has learnt that love can be found in many places, not just in his enchanted arms. Love is there in the faithful eyes of her loyal dog, in the trusting smile of her baby grand-daughter, in the warmth of her friendships. It is there still, in the touch of her devoted husband. For yes, she has really moved on from the edge of that precipice where Nick left her, left her to fall whilst he followed his narcissistic whims.
‘And you? Where do you find your love now?’ thinks Lexie. Intuitively, he answers with his eyes, they devour her, they caress her face, his crooked smile cracks his still beloved face, promising unspeakable pleasures.
He takes her tiny hand in his and it all dissolves, the pain, the sorrow, the wretchedness, the lost years. And all that is left is raw and exposed longing. And young love.
She falls into his eyes and the years spin and reverse. They are young once more, just once more. Young and in love. Anything is possible.
For it was love, just bad timing. ‘We were just too young, and too young to even know it,’ thinks Lexie. Nick nods intuitively.
It is unspeakably sad, those lost years.
Ironically now their destiny lies in her hands. The street reflects a myriad of colors from the leaves, the sun is setting, a mist envelops them, a magical mist just like Niagara. Her fated heart cries in defense, it would be fall, ‘anything is possible.’
Lexie slips on the wet leaves falling hard into the gutter, her body shuddering from the impact. Nick helps her stand, his smile with its unspeakable promises almost invading her senses. The shattering sensation after her fall serves as a timely reminder of the flipside of that smile, the inevitable agony of his toxic love. Self-preservation kicks in and Lexie finds the strength to extricate her hand from his and navigate past him, whispering ‘It’s fall, anything is possible. Farewell adversary.’