Last updated  :  | By Terry Shepherd

Flash Fiction – The Cliff

The Cliff

Your face appeared above the edge of the cliff, framing the breathtaking view of emerald flatlands, undulating into foothills, ultimately erupting into a snow-covered mountainscape.

Your hair was silver-gray, short and straight; not at all what I expected. I recognized the contours of your cheeks and the eyes I’ve yet to behold in real life.

You wore a down jacket, a button-down red flannel shirt, hip-hugging genes, climbers boots and a backpack. Your right hand gripped a rope ladder chiseled into the uppermost edge of the cliff. At the bottom a carpet of green moss drifted toward the horizon.

I forgot about  my morning motorcycle ride and the unidentifiable sights I tried to decode over the past hour, following my gut through an unfamiliar town in a place out of the Twilight zone.

I struggled for the right words, not wanting you to go but uncertain if the vision before me was real.

“It’s you.”

You nodded in recognition, your expression enigmatic, not giving anything away. Your recent cryptic posts hinted at unease with a life that appeared to be evolving in directions yet to be revealed. I stood, mute, not wanting to say the wrong thing.

“Are you coming?” The voice I knew by heart was impatient, alluring and perfunctory, adding to my confusion.

You let go of the rope, your arms and legs slowly spreading into a human “X” as you fell. At the last second, you dipped backward, piercing the mossy surface of a thin, circular pond. After what felt like a long time, the ripples calmed, but not before you broke the surface, elbows lifting your bone-dry body into a sitting position on the edge.

I assessed the rope ladder, the distance and the tiny target at the bottom.

You held out upturned palms, a jerking thumb guiding my gaze toward the mountains. But I couldn’t take my eyes off of you, knowing the iPhone next to my bed was about to start pinging me, revealing another anonymous airport hotel room, evaporating your essence into the pre-sunrise blackness like dancing droplets of water on a hot Teflon stovetop.