It begins, as it always does, with the single chime of a tuning fork.
Stroll to the click clack, shoulder charging the stares and stomping footprints into the solid air. She walks arms wide, hair all nonsense now, breaking paving slabs and sending tables scattering across the bay. Majestic destruction. The young man can only pull the bridge back, peeling like a sardine can, as she comes – four arms and two legs full of sex and smiles. Metal groans and cries. Creases and splinters. Rivets explode like bullets. The water retreats respectfully and with haste, a pawing servant that has done wrong.
Limbs will be separated from the unwise and the foolhardy. Limbering up with many knuckles flexed. His dark eyes go cold and still, now only illuminated by the fire from her shoulders. The clenched jaw relaxes. The cheeks drop. Bags appear under his eyes. This is the time.
The first blow shatters his jaw in an unclean break, spilling molars out like ants from a disturbed nest. It falls away pathetically, as his tongue lolls desperately for an anchor. The eyes are crossed in desperate committee. With the second blow he explodes into matter, molecules dancing across a vibrating metal sheet. Underpinned by fresh air and vagarities, he falls into his shoes, collapsing with final elegance, falling without grace but finality. The bridge snaps back, relieved.
He has fingers like Greek columns. She has barbed-wire eyelashes.
Reflecting on events, as the salt water washes over my battered old boots. So many scuff marks from bad dancing. Running my fingers over old stone, bouncing my guitar string callouses off the granite flakes. Feeling the keen northern wind, knowing that my hair rears like an ugly Medusa in the backdraft. Single strands stick to my eyeballs and try to invade my mouth. I rest my elbows respectfully from the dead flowers mourning those who chose to vault the fence and plunge into the sea.
I remember; in my teen years a young man died whilst resting against the front window of a small supermarket where I worked. I strolled in on that unassuming Sunday morning to find a labyrinth of police tape to navigate. Showing my uniform to the solemn officers, I made my way in to an empty cold store and empty cold stares. The young man had been stabbed, staggered a hundred yards or so and finally bled to death propped up against the window. Every time I looked out of that window, or happened to walk past that spot, I’d look up and see what he undoubtedly saw in his final moments – an impossible connection between two contrasting states.
When I walk the route to the cliff edge, I look around and imagine what a person might be seeing as they take their final walk. Do the seagulls irritate with their harsh cackle, or does the graceful swoop allow a moment of serendipity? Does the daunting cliff edge, with it’s diving board profile beckon them, or does it haunt like the shadow of a drizzly gallows? The harsh lines of a guillotine.
I rest my elbows and reflect. I’ll never take that walk with those intentions. I’ll always turn around and walk back. And yet I can’t help wondering what I will be staring at when my eyes close for the last time, whether anyone will be there to share that view.
Out of a strange respect, she removes the boots and sets them on fire. She cuts off her ponytail so the strands are now splayed like a hand grasping for them in desperation. They too are burned. The bridge buckles like melted plastic under her light foot but never threatens to break. A final wave, a lick of the finger to check the air. Her knees are bleeding but she can’t remember why. By the time she returns, the blood now forms the tattoo of a river that deltas at her long feet.
The vibrations die. Everything is still.