The Only Thing I've Got

We drove. Drove through rain drenched streets in milky dawn light. For the umpteenth time that morning I looked at her and felt only love. For the umpteenth time that morning I looked at her and saw a soul so devastated that words failed me. I knew that this journey to nowhere was her therapy. I wasn’t even sure she knew I was in the car with her. This did not matter to me. All that mattered to me was the woman I loved with every fibre of my being. All that mattered to me in this whole world was Amy.


2. Journeys End

The town was now far behind us and the roads became narrow arteries lined by thick tall hedgerows hiding the patchwork quilt of farmers fields beyond. I knew our destination now. One of our favourite haunts. I have lost count the amount of times we’ve been there and talked about how amazing our life was going to be. Our minds would fill up with images of homes and babies and contentment and safety, the warm fuzz of a future shared. The sun was hot on my cheek as it glared through the windscreen but I felt no real warmth. The car was icy cold. I leaned forward to toy with the heater. A dry blast of heat began to roar through the vents. I foolishly looked at Amy for her approval. Her eyes never left the road. That was when the déjà vu hit me. A peculiar thing, Déjà vu. I never fail to be bemused by it. The notion that you’ve been in that exact instant before - a millisecond overlap of time and space - which convinces you that you know what’s coming next, always gives me the creeps. But I don’t know what is coming next. I wish with all my heart that I did and that I could use it to fix the mess we’re in so we could turn around and go home. I know too well that nothing I say can make a difference.

The road begins to climb and wind its way up the side of a steep hill. I know what will greet us at the top: A dazzling sun slowly climbing above a shimmering sea the colour of pewter and shot through with swirls of foam. This has always been our view as the years have past while we talked about our spectacularly ordinary future. A future I wanted with certainty. At least that is what I always thought. I never realised that there might be something else out there that could shatter my dreams and aspirations and replace them with the unknown.

Amy steered the car carefully into the car park that sat at the top of the cliffs. A thin strip of parking spaces close to the edge allowed visitors to share the view that Amy and me had gazed at so many times. I looked at the small wooden rail that ran the length of the ledge and marvelled, as I always do, at just how useless it is. Its rudimentary barrier a thin line served as a warning but not a deterrent. How easy it would be to drive a car through it and plummet to the rocks below. Lines are easy to cross.

Amy got out of the car and like a puppy dog I followed. She walked over to ‘our’ bench but didn’t sit down. Instead she stood and looked out to sea, watching seagulls turn circles and ride thermals. I walked up behind her. I knew I had to say something. I knew I had to explain myself. I had to tell her how thoroughly stupid I’d been and how I lost sight of us. We’d be okay. I knew we’d be okay because I loved her. I loved her but I’m a bastard. Looking at her as she watched the sun disappear behind a band of cloud I realised with a cold hard clarity that I’d lost her. I could do nothing to solve this. I could do nothing to fix the damage. How could I expect her to believe that I loved her? To her it would just be a word, a device to worm my way in and beg for forgiveness.

I suddenly realised that Amy had stepped over the barrier.

“Amy!” The déjà vu returned. It was stronger this time as if I could have reached out and grabbed the moment and determined exactly what was going to happen. And then I realised. It wasn’t déjà vu. I had lived in this moment before. I knew exactly what was about to happen and I was powerless to stop it. I tried anyway. I lunged forward and reached for her arm but my outstretched hand gripped only air as she stepped off the edge and plummeted to the rocks below.

I awake as I always do on this day in the cemetery. My limbs are stiff and aching from lying on the grave all night. My clothes are wet with morning dew. I pick myself up tentatively to the percussive click and pop of bones and read the inscription on the headstone of the grave I have spent the night sleeping on.


Died 28th October 1997

Aged 29

Beloved Daughter

You lived for those you loved and those you loved remember

I know the inscription by heart but read it anyway, my gaze lingering on ‘Beloved Daughter’, Amy’s parents denying Amy her true worth in a grief stricken endeavour to snub me. I wasn’t allowed to attend the funeral. Her father said that a bastard like me had no respect for Amy in life so I shouldn’t be allowed to appease my guilt after her death. I was angry for a time, until the anniversary of Amy’s death when some abnormality, some freak occurrence of time and space allows me to take our final journey together to the cliffs again. I always awake the next day in the cemetery not quite knowing how I got there. Not quite knowing whether the day before was a dream or real. Whether the Amy I travel in the car with is really her or a ghost. Some may say this is my punishment or my curse, a penance to be borne. I take it for what it is. The only thing I’ve got.

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