the place

the place

There were tears in her eyes as she tried to clear a space for him to land. She looked up at him; he seemed so small, so alone, so helpless, forlorn, far up there in the sky. Very soon, it would be too dark to see anything; he would have to come down now, he had to jump off that height.

She looked around her; the landing would not be easy. It was all rocky plains, with sharp edges of stones jutting out in places, there were pieces of wood, cans, broken bottles and other sharp objects lying around; no, the fall would not be easy. She wondered how it could be so beautiful up there and so harsh and rugged just below.

She looked up at him again. He was looking around, unsure of what had happened and why he was the only one standing up there without a means of coming down. She felt so sad, sorry and scared for him. Was it only earlier today that they had come to this place together? It seemed like ages ago when they both walked down to this place full of smiles, full of happiness, full of life, full of dreams, full of …love.

They had come from different places, very far away, to this place that had a heavenly spot up in the sky, the most beautiful and perfect piece of nature just above the hard ground on which she now stood. They had needed a place to share the beauty in their hearts, to be at one with nature, to live only for each other, even if only for a while, to find real happiness. And they had been blessed to find this paradise, this perfect piece of nature where most people only visit in their dreams, where some just hear of, but never visit, where only a very lucky few get to actually see, where the most beautiful memories are made. Because you see, this place, you only stumble upon it, nobody ever really knows the way to the place, and most people never want to return once they get there.

They had climbed up with the help of ladder which they found miraculously at the foot of ‘the place’. Climbing up there was the next best thing she could remember that happened to her in her life, second only to the experience up there; that was simply Amazing.

The beauty of the scene up there was just breathtaking, and can only be understood by being there, not by being told. It was an embodiment of perfection…actually the best work of nature’s art. It made perfect the beauty of what they shared. They had had so much fun up there; they laughed so hard, played like silly children, danced with abandon and the world around just stood still and envied, as they enjoyed every second for the sheer joy of it. It was really the perfect place for the perfect moment of her life, and she knew without a doubt that no matter what happened now, she would never have given up sharing those precious moments for anything…

It had all been so wonderful, until evening came, and they had to go back. The light had disappeared suddenly, and it seemed like the elements were so envious, they couldn’t wait to put an end to their joy. They both wished they could stay there forever.

And then the winds came, it was so heavy, blowing away everything in its part, and they knew in its wake, there would be a storm. That would be hazardous. They had to get back before the storm, before it became too dark for them to find their way back.

She started heading down, so sure he would follow. She called out to him behind her, but the raging wind made it impossible for him to hear. She got to the edge of the place and held out her hand to him, when she did not feel the warmth of his hands around her; she turned to see him still seated where she left him. He begged her to stay, but she knew nobody could weather the storm up here. They had to go back, and if the fates were kind enough, maybe, just maybe they might find their way back to this place again. But for now, they had to leave with only their best memories.

At the edge, she pleaded with him to return with her, so they could find their way back in the dark together. He got up, and began walking towards her. She stepped on the ladder, slowly, ever so slowly, waiting for him to catch up, wishing time and eternity would hold still, so they could savour a little more time in this paradise.

The wind whipped the air and her hair into her face, making vision difficult as she descended the ladder. She had to hold on with all her might, as the ladder squeaked at the point of contact with the edge. She called out to him to hurry up, while she tried to locate the steps. When she almost down, the ladder was forcefully snatched from its hold on the edge, and flung down forward by a very powerful wind.

She screamed as she fell, and her scream brought him hurriedly to the edge. For a few seconds, all was still. When she regained her senses, she felt like the product of a stampede. It took a while for her to become conscious of her surroundings, and with it came pain, and the sudden realization that he was stranded up there, alone.

That was when she started to cry. She knew that she had to help him somehow, but she didn’t know what to do. He was still standing at the edge, but he was staring at the place. He did, like a little child holding unto what little happiness he had gained from their time together, not want to let go, afraid of the pain of being separated by their different worlds.

She began clearing a place for him to land, removing as much as possible, everything hurtful from his path. She knew it would be a hard fall, which was inevitable; she only wanted to make it as less damaging as she could.

Pain coursed through her, not just physical pain, but that heart wrenching, deep seated sorrow that stemmed from the knowledge that try as she may, the end of their today would definitely make senseless its ethereal beginning. The fates were dealing a very hard hand; even their beautiful memories would be snatched from them.

When she had cleared a little piece of land, she motioned for him to jump. She could sense his fear, it mirrored hers. When he had braced himself enough, he threw himself off from the edge and started falling downwards.

But fate was not done yet. For instead of him to land on the cleared piece of land, the force of the wind propelled him to land on the heap of hard objects which she had gathered together in one place while clearing the landing for him.

Her screams rent the air, and competed favourably with the howling wind in volumes. She knew if he did not survive this fall, it would be her fault. Far safer it would have been if he had just landed on the surface just the way it was. Her desire to help him had inadvertently led to her creating the danger that would break him.

She ran to him. He was a mass of broken flesh and bones; mercifully, he was breathing, but unconscious, so he couldn’t feel the pains. But she could not move him, she could do nothing for him out here alone, and the storm was very close, she could feel it. She had to get help.

She did not know if she could find her way back in the dark, alone; She was not sure he would still be alive when she returned (if she ever did); she did not know how far she could go before the storm set in. She only knew that she had to go back.

She was weeping as she ran, hurting from the sadness of it all, bruised from her fall, afraid of the darkness into which she ran, scared of not being able to return to him, but most of all, broken by the thought that he would never remain the same, if he survived.

She should never have come here, but that was stupid; it was better to have been here for a minute than not to have come at all. She could have stayed back with him, but that was unrealistic; they would never have made it through the storm. She should have left the objects the way they were on the floor, but that was callous, how would she know he wouldn’t land on the space created? She should have…

She prayed as she stumbled blindly, painfully ahead, that he would make it, survive this and find his way back to where he came from…

written by Helen Nnadi

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