At the Edge

The edge of the cliff stared back at me, daring me. Just three short steps would bring me to it. A fourth would send me careening over the edge. “Jump wide. You don’t want to hit the side of the cliff on the way down.” The advice reverberated in my mind. Jump wide. Cautiously I crept up to the ledge and stared down.

It was farther than I thought it would be. There were jagged outcroppings that I was sure to crash into.

I didn’t want to reach the bottom broken and bloody.

I should have brought somebody with me. Somebody to pressure me into going through with it.

This was the last thing left.

Once I’d done this, there was nothing more to do.

I couldn’t quit.

I wasn’t a quitter.

Why had I even agreed to this? Surely there had to be some other way. Something potentially less painful.

I was going to die.

Tomorrow was my twenty-fifth birthday and I wasn’t going to live to see it.

* * *

I spent my life making lists. I even had lists on how to make lists. Sometimes the lists were little things. What I needed to do for the day. What I needed to buy from the grocery store. What I needed to take with me on a trip. Other times the lists were things I wanted. Like for my birthday and Christmas and any other holiday I could use to convince somebody to spend money on me. I had list for bigger things. What I wanted to accomplish in the year. What I needed to do in order to get my dream job.

I had lists for everything.

But I rarely ever actually used them. (Except for the grocery lists. And the wishlists. Those were important).

I’m much better at creating lists than implementing them.

Then when I was graduating college, my friend made a suggestion. Twenty-five things to do before you’re twenty-five. A less morbid bucket list. Three years to complete twenty-five goals. I didn’t even get to choose them for myself, she made the list for me. And I was determined to see this one through.

1. Get a job, with benefits (I crossed this one off three weeks after graduating.)

2. Go on a road trip, cross at least three states (Drove to Vegas for my 24th birthday)

3. Go grocery shopping in an evening gown (My prom dress still fit, so I tossed it on at four am and went to the 24 hour grocery. Still got stared at.)

4. Sing in public (Karaoke. Lots of alcohol. Don’t really remember it. It’s better that way)

5. Go on a blind date (Done. Never again.)

6. Go skinny-dipping (Friend’s pool while I was dog-sitting)

7. Go camping, with a tent (One miserable, bug infested night)

8. Stay up all night and watch the sun-rise (While camping. Couldn’t sleep because of the bugs)

9. Volunteer somewhere (Volunteered at the humane society, still go back every weekend)

10. Go to a concert (Small indie band, place was empty. Why do people enjoy these things?)

11. Reread a classic book from each year of high school (Tom Sawyer, 1984, Grapes of Wrath, and Les Miserable. Still don’t like them)

12. Go to Vegas (24th birthday. Hit the jackpot on my first night. Spent it all on shows and drinks)

13. Get a pet, fish count (Brought home a cat from the humane shelter. Named her Catnip.)

14. Start a garden (I bought the stuff to make one. All the plants died)

15. Throw a themed party (Sexy pajama party. Pillow fights and every thing)

16. Run a 5k, actually run the whole thing, not walk it (I puked when it was over. Enough on that.)

17. Kiss a stranger on New Years Eve at midnight (He was tallish. Possibly with eyes. Pretty sure he had a nose.)

18. Learn to play the guitar (Spent a month taking lessons. Haven’t touched the guitar since)

19. Get a tattoo (You’re never going to see it.)

20. Professional photo shoot, clothing optional (Clothing definitely included.)

21. Start a retirement account (Set up through my job as soon as it was available, because I’m responsible)

22. Start a blog, actually update it (Done. And I’ve updated it. Twice.)

23. Go a week without taking a selfie (One hundred, sixty-eight hours and forty-five minutes elapsed between selfies. Check.)

24. Take a pole dancing class (Bruises for weeks. Thankfully did not try this before the photoshoot)

25. Go cliff-diving

* * *

I tugged on the strings holding my bikini in place, making sure they were secure. Making sure they weren’t going to come loose.

Three steps back.

Then a fourth.

Then a fifth.

The sixth, seventh, and eighth followed quickly.

I closed my eyes, drew in a deep breath.  And then started running. One step. Two. Three. I opened my eyes and leapt, my legs flailing under me as I cleared the side of the cliff before I began the plummet. I closed my eyes and the last thing I saw was the rich blue sea rushing to greet me.

At the age of six, Eliza was certain of two things. The first was that she had stories to tell. The second was that she had no talent for illustrating them herself. Talent or no, she still wrote and illustrated her first book, one that should be located and locked away if only to prevent her parents from embarrassing her terribly by showing it off alongside baby pictures. Now she spends her days writing stories that she isn't embarrassed to show off after a little bit of polishing.

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