Her’s was the one on the edge.
The big, dark house on the edge of the cliff. Alone at the end of the road. Not that it was a road. A wide path was more like it. Wide enough for a car to drive without scratching its paint on the dense forest enveloping the road. Not that she drove. Not that she ever left, that is, if she was still there. Still alive.
You would never see it, if you weren’t looking.
The only real way to know it even existed was by way of boat. That’s how I found it. That’s how I found her. I suppose you could know of it if you had been invited in, but I don’t think that has ever happened. Not to my knowledge at least, but what do I know? Perhaps everything, perhaps nothing.
We were fishing.
It was one of those tormented November Sundays. The ones where dread hangs low in the air, low enough for everyone to fill their lungs with each inhale and perpetuate with each exhale. My father had drug me out of bed before the sun had even considered rising that morning. I tromped down to the shore with him, my legs carrying the half of me still half-asleep with shaky effort.
This was our Sunday ritual.
Dad and I. A way to escape the chores that seemed to spill out of our house every Sunday. It was our time together, he would tell my mother, but once we were out there, we never spoke. We never even made eye-contact let along vocal contact. It was his escape and I was his excuse.
The water was unforgiving, that morning.
And it had started to rain. Not rain but pour. The boat was close to capsizing, I had thought, but never mentioned it because at that point I would have been okay with it. Life had also been unforgiving and perhaps the dept of the ocean would be a welcome exit. My father was at the front of our small tin boat, and I sat at the back holding a rod without bait. I was never a fan of killing something for sport.
My gaze was fixed on the wailing surface of the water.
But my mind was elsewhere. On the homework I would never complete. On the girl who would never love me. On the family that was falling apart. The sky overhead was charcoal and dull, one of those veils that refused to follow the rules; it could have been midnight or it could have been midday. I had just started to wonder if I would ever see the sun again, when I saw it.
I saw her light.
A large, dark shape nearly dangling off the edge of the cliff. From where I sat in our small tin boat, I would have put the sheer drop at two hundred feet or more. I had started to wonder who would build a house so close to the edge like that, my eyes tracing it’s angles, when she stepped into the light.
Her soft honey-colored light.
I couldn’t see her face, but I felt her eyes. I knew in that moment that she could see me, that she stepped into that window to see me. We lifted our hands at the same time and I felt something flutter in my chest. Perhaps my heart had grown wings. I could feel her smiling down at me, laughing at the synchronicity of our shared gesture. I could only see her outline in the light, but I knew she was my age.
And I knew she had been waiting for me.
Everything else began to slip away after that. The rain, the waves, the stoic, deeply unhappy father, the nothingness of my teenage worries. Everything was just gone. We stared at one another for what felt like eternity and a spilt second all at once. It wasn’t until my father docked the boat, that I realized any time had passed.
I searched for her.
Asked about her at school, around town. Hunting for the road to that big, dark house of hers. The one with one warm, honey-colored light spilling out of her room. I considered all the ways in which I could reach her. Swim, climb, hike, fly. I needed to reach her. I need to touch her, to be with her. And I know she needed me too.
I could feel it.
I had felt it. Then. And it changed me. Her light had lit something within me. Gave me a home inside of myself. Washed away all of the bad feelings. Dipped me in her warmth to carry with me wherever I went. In a split second, she had changed everything.
But I never found her.
Even when I found the road to her and drove down it, peering into the woods as if she would be waiting for me. Even when I reached that house. That big, dark house. Even when I knocked and waited and knocked again. Even when I traced the perimeter of that house and came to the edge of the cliff. Even when I considered never seeing her again. Even when I left, and never came back.
But I never forgot her.
And that light never left me. So if you ever find her. Let her know. Everything. If you ever go looking, her’s is the one on the edge.