A gentle gust of wind rustles down through the tall pine trees that surround him. It brushes the man’s hair upward as he stands sure-footed on the edge of a cliff. Then with his hand he settles it back down into his face before the gust departs for farther trees below. He follows it with his eyes, looking over the edge, carefully battling the urge to urinate that came with his mild vertigo.
“I am alive,” the voice says to him.
“I know,” he says.
“You must also be alive,” the voice says, pleading with him.
“And you must stay alive.”
“That, I’m not so sure of,” he says as he widens his stance and takes a deep breath. The remnants of wind, filled with the scent of pine and particles of dirt and decaying bugs, plants and other fauna, swirl up like a spoon stirring undissolved sugar at the bottom of a cup of tea. It travels to his brain which contemplates the reasons for him coming to this cliff every Saturday night instead of spending time with his fiancée.
“I love the way your hair rests upon your face like that,” the voice says. “I love the way it feels running through my fingers.”
The stars in gangs, claim their territory in the sky, but cannot warm and light the earth like the sun. But the trees send gusts despite the night, and a stronger burst ruffles up between his black T-Shirt and torso. It travels up his abdomen, over his shoulders, and down his lightly-haired arms to which he raises, by reflex, in response. Complete darkness is obscured by the faint light of the moon. It tries to hinder the man’s vision but fails miserably to do so; a combination of the man’s desire to see and the dark’s willingness to succumb. Looking to his hands for affirmation, his palms reflect the receding moonlight back into his squinting eyes. His fingers extend upward, the tips of them feeling the culmination of energy that the wind brought from the core of his body, to that place, and return back into the wind like the end of an embrace; the fingers of the wind slip through his.
“I don’t want you to know how much I love you,” the voice says, “but I can’t help it.”
With another deep breath, this time more for exhaling than inhaling, he replies, “I love you too, but sometimes...” he hesitates while thoughts of the past week scrambling in an unorganized fashion, flash before his eyes. “Sometimes I see this other person who I don’t even know and I think maybe I love her too. She’s mysterious, alluring, beautiful and, I can imagine, offers the utmost security.” As he describes her, visions of this mystery woman dressed in a black robe, fluttering in a headwind, enter his mind. She’s walking away from him, enticing as much as avoiding–in that maddening fashion only a woman can do. She leaves behind a scent every man at one point or another has known. A scent two-parts bravery, two-parts fear, a Hemingway glass of whiskey and water. One step forward, closer to the edge, brings life and two steps back. He looks down again and feels the essence, the importance of each direction.
“Stay with me a little longer,” the voice sobs. Not with pity, dignified but still sonorous with worry. She always knows what visage to wear. Class, personified.
“Maybe I should,” he says as he follows a small rock that had loosened its grip from the cliff when he took his two steps back from the edge. The rock falls, its inertia pulling it towards the bulls eye of the earth. Neither wind nor other influence can alter its course, set for the canyon below. As he imagines himself falling with it, the sense of falling into a trap surrounds him. He sees the mysterious, black-robed woman waiting below, growing in size with every moment that passes. He hears her laughter and it reminds him of his own. Not in sound, but in how he only laughs at the same things over and over again. Her laughter says she’s done this many times before; enticing those close enough to the edge to jump and let their souls enter their own inertia. Sure the body stops at the foot of the cliff, but their souls keep falling forever with nothing to stop them, not even the crust of the earth. “Maybe I should,” he reiterates, this time with finality.
A blast of wind, cold and almost solid, whips across his face and body, further pushing him away from the cliff. “Damn right, you should,” the voice says.
Immediately, he counters the coldness with the thought of his fiancée’s embrace. Warm and inviting, it never ceases to wipe away the tribulations of the day, the struggles of life, the stress of the unknown. He smiles at the sky and another gentle gust tousles his hair into his face.
“You will all know the great unknown in time,” the voice says. “But you have other temptations to fulfill first.”
He nods in approval while his head falls from the arc of the sky to the sturdy ground he stands on, humbled but reinvigorated. He whispers, “I love you” as he gets into his car and drives off from whence he came. He rolls down the window and feels her again, through each curve in the road, descending back into the metropolis below.
Kelly Kusumoto is a New York City-based writer with a BFA in Creative Writing for Entertainment from Full Sail University. Born and raised in Los Angeles, he has written articles and reviews for The Arroyo Seco Journal and Pasadena Weekly. He also maintained his own publication before moving to New York City. Currently, he is an editor for Cicatrix Publishing, a scriptwriter for Los Yorkers Productions and a copywriter and graphic designer for Kiltic Studios. He also publishes short works of fiction on various websites around the world and is working on projects ranging from novels and screenplays to gaming, transmedia, graphic novels, and children’s writing.