The cliffs seem to rise out of the thrashing ocean. Resolute. Calling those brave enough to approach. To wiggle their toes into the dirt where it falls away. To stand at the edge of nothing just for the fun of cheating death. People claim the wind blows stronger here. That it races through the tall grass to pull on the clothes of travelers begging them to try their luck against the hand of fate. The cliffs were beautiful once. The kind of beautiful that stays locked behind thick glass at a museum for people to press their noses against, gawking at what was inside, but never touching it. The kind of beautiful that is unearthed in an impassioned frenzy only to be rehidden under the dirt by desperate hands. The kind of beautiful that is beautiful until it’s deadly.
There were those in that small town, set off from the world, who knew better than others why the cliffs became as lonely as they were proud. Those who knew, knew it in their blood. They felt the truth coursing through their veins everyday. They used to try and paint the pictures in their heads onto crumpled papers from their back pockets, before they realized their memories would always remain their own, confined into their minds until the end of time. They used to try and speak, though the words came out short and sloppy and never quite right. They tried to explain until they didn’t. Tried to make people believe them until they realized no one ever would. Now they walk the same streets lost in the rhythm of their footprints trying to forget. Trying so hard that they could almost believe they succeeded.
The little town wasn’t the same as it had been all those years ago. People used to flock to the town claiming the salty air healed broken hearts and the view cleaned twisted minds. The people who came brought their money. They ate at small restaurants that served crispy fish and soggy french fries and tall glasses of water with limes bobbing inside. They stayed in quaint hotel rooms with dusty floors and creaky bed frames and beautiful views. They filled the town with their innocent enthusiasm and their deep pockets. The town could afford to be kept nice. They upgraded where they could, new paint, fresh imports of food, less creaky bed frames. The town was happy until their tragedy was splashed across the front page of a newspaper the way the tide sweeps away sandcastles. The cliffs were the place to be until someone didn’t come back. Someone teetered too close to the edge. Someone ignored the warnings of their fluttering stomachs. Someone fell.
Willy Woods wasn’t a tourist. Willy Woods was a local. Willy Woods wasn’t naive. Willy Woods had known the cliffs his whole life. Willy Woods was careful, yet they found his body broken on the rocks at the bottom of the cliff three days after he didn’t come home. No one knows how Willy Woods went falling. No one was there when he slipped. No one knows if he screamed or clawed silently at the clouds as he passed them by. They only know that when Willy Woods fell he took the town down with him. People stopped coming to see the cliffs. They stood only as a symbol of ticking morality and pain for the boy who fell. It was easier to make up stories about the cliffs than to the mist shrouded edge. Questions became the answers those terrified souls searched for; how did Willy Woods fall? Maybe he slipped. Maybe he was pushed. Maybe he jumped. What kind of a boy would jump? Maybe the wind pulled him over. Maybe it wasn’t the wind at all. Maybe it was something else. Something that could never be explained.
It was foggy the day when the two men returned to the town. It was windy enough to blow crunchy fall leaves over their slick black shoes. Sunny enough to illuminate their short styled hair, brown for one, blonde for the other. Cold enough for them to clasp the buttons on their coats. Haunting enough to keep their faces pointed at the ground. They met at the hotel. Climbed the rickety stairs together and sat adjacent on the creaky bed frames. These two men had once called this town home. Back when tourists had flocked and people had laughed they had been the young children always under foot. They had run the cliffs together, inseparable in their renegades, except back then there had been three boys.
They moved away. Each on the day of their 18th birthday. Some had nodded their approval saying that they were moving up in the world. Others had frowned their displeasure saying they were running away. When the smoke flowed freely from the cars and the song of the engines faded into a distant ringing in their ears, neither man ever came back. So why now did they come? Why did they pause their lives to sit across from each other? What pulled them here? Some might say fate followed the men the day they left and accompanied them the day they returned. Others may say there are things that can’t be outrun and it was inevitable that these men would return. In truth the brown haired man had sent a text to the blonde requesting this meeting. The blonde had obliged.
“Thank you for meeting me here,” The brown haired man spoke first in a hushed tone. His name was Jace.
“Of course,” The blonde haired man spoke seconded in a louder tone. His name was Dylan.
“It’s been so long,” Jace’s eyes filled like wells as his gaze drifted towards the open window.
“I know,” Dylan was less sentimental. Jace opened his mouth to continue speaking, but Dylan's words flowed first.
“I know why you called me here,” With each word his voice dropped lower, as though each word was a step down an elderly basement staircase.
“I should have called you here a long time ago,” Jace’s voice was rising softly the way a sunrise illuminates a day a little bit at a time.
“Don’t put this on me,” Dylan’s anger was no longer hidden from his counterpart. “I wanted to come clean when it first happened.” Composure returned to the blonde man's face, he raised his hands. “Sorry, sorry. I know this is hard.”
“This place deserves better than we gave it,” Jace ran his nimble fingers over the decaying wood in a melancholy gesture.
“I think it's been established that we really messed up,” Dylan's head fell to his hands. Jace nodded his cold grey eyes, never leaving his friends.
“The only thing we can do now is try to set it right,” Jace’s voice was soft as a lullaby sung to a fussing child. Dylan met his eyes, their gaze consumed by the pain of their past.
“You think it's time to tell them what really happened?” Dylan asked with the innocence of a child.
“I think it’s past time,” Jace stood. “Willy would want us to.” Dylan sucked a breath through his dry lips.
“What are we going to say?” he asked though the answer was clear to both parties in the room.
“The truth,” Jace responded. “Willy didn’t slip. He didn’t jump. We pushed him.”
“You pushed him,” Dylan's voice was barely audible. “We were chasing him and you pushed him and I let you do it.” Jace was quiet. His face slack. His eyes bright.
“Are you going to sell me out here? Because we both know what happened that day. We were chasing him and we pushed him.” Dylan blinked the way a person does when they are confused.
“Okay,” he says finally. “The details don’t matter so much.”
“Let's do it at the cliffs,” Jace licks his lips as he looks out the window. “I’ll call the police and tell them to meet us there in an hour.” Dylan nodded as someone would when they expected the reality they were faced with.
“We should go over what we’ll say.” Jace’s voice housed the nerves that appeared to race through his body. Dylan nodded again
“That morning we ate at the bakery.” Jace fit the first piece of the story into place.
“We ate cinnamon buns, we got frosting all over our faces and we didn’t wipe them with a napkin.” Dylan's lips twitched with the memory of a long lost smile as he spoke.
“We stopped at the store and bought colas to bring to the cliffs.” Jace fingered another piece.
“Willy shook all the bottles on the shelf, except ours of course,” A mist like that that shields the ocean from its admirers fell over Dylan's blue eyes.
“We were playing catch by the edge,” Jace continued the way a train does even when there is no one to steer it.
“Willy threw the ball too far. It went over the edge.” Dylan's voice was soft.
“Yes, he threw my ball over the edge and then we all leaned over the edge to see it as it broke against the rocks.” Jace’s back was straighter than before.
“It was windy,” Dylan spoke as a person would if they were awakening from a years long dream. “He might have fallen by himself.”
“Except he didn’t,” Jace’s features rested like stone on his shadowed face.
“No he didn’t, he wouldn’t have fallen if it hadn't been for us,” Dylan’s head bowed.
“We pushed him,” Jace supplied the final piece of the puzzle. There was silence. That deep dark secret that infected their souls for so long finally released to linger in the air around them. They were not free, but they were no longer prisoners. The two men embraced. Their fate was set, it had been set since that fateful day, except now they weren’t running from it. They left the room separately to set their affairs in order.
The forgotten town held its breath as the clock ticked forward. Held its breath as Dylan's car parked at the cliffs and he stepped out. Held its breath as Dylan stood at the cliff's edge just as Willy had. Held its breath as Dylan trusted Jace, just as Willy had. Dylan held his breath as he watched the sea pound mercilessly against the rocks. Held his breath as the sea air kissed his cheeks. Held his breath as he waited. He lost himself in the view. Lost himself in the pain. Lost himself in the time. Dylan was standing at the cliff's edge when the police arrived. Dylan turned to greet them, alone. Dylan asked the police to wait for Jace to arrive and so they did. With each moment that passed Dylan's heartbeat rose higher in his throat, sweat beaded on his forehead. Dylan had never been the brave one, that had been Willy. Dylan had never been the smart one, that had been Jace. Dylan had been the trusting one. Dylan had been the one to go to college. The one to get a good job. The one to build a happy life. The one who was throwing it all away.
No one knows why Dylan ran. Some say he realized that Jace wasn’t coming. Some say his conscience was eating him from the inside out. Some say he was trying to outrun his past. Some say he realized Jace had never planned on coming at all. People know why the police ran after him. They say it was their job. They say it was because Dylan looked guilty. They say it was because it was the right thing to do. No one knows how Dylan went over the edge. Some say he ran straight for it. Some say he slipped. Some say he was pushed. Some say it was a force stronger than the wind that sent Dylan to his death.
When they pulled his body up from the rugged rocks below the cliff the police found a note in Dylan’s pocket. Concealed in a plastic baggy, his last words written in a handwriting that was not his own.
We ran the cliffs. I guess we must have figured we were invincible. We loved the thrill of danger and the kiss of the wind. I’m not sorry for being a child, but I am sorry for being the cause I grew up too fast. Willy Woods didn’t slip. He was pushed. It was my own hand that sent him over the edge and it was his memory that sent me over mine. This cliff is haunted by the tragedy I created. Tell the world I’m sorry I buried what was beautiful under unnecessary pain. Tell Willy I’m sorry.
People returned to the cliffs. They filled the hollow little town with their shallow laughs and deep pockets. They came not for the cliffs, but for the mystery. Not for the beauty, but for the haunted memories of three little boys. The one who died too young. The one who lived a half life until the cliffs claimed his soul too. And the one who escaped. The town had found peace, or so the townspeople said. No one asked why Jace drove away leaving Dylan at the cliffs alone. No one asked why the note in Dylan’s pocket hadn’t been in his handwriting. No one asked why Dylan had gone to the cliff at all. No one asked why Jace had been the one to call the police. The town wanted peace so they found it even when it wasn’t there.
After the meeting he had called, Jace left the hotel. He walked to his car and turned the key in the ignition. Jace drove away. He faced his future without remorse as he left Dylan to pay for the mistakes of his past. Jace’s face was stone. Anyone who knew the truth would know that his heart was too, though he hoped that secret had fallen over the edge of the cliff with Willy and Dylan. Swept away in the thrashing waves. Sunken into the pounded earth. Forgotten by the townspeople. Jace put his back to it all and was never seen in that town again.
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I think that this was a good story and that you did a great job with it ^^ i hope that you'll continue to make more stories on here, though only when you aren't busy or anything. 10/10 :)