Precipice

By DC McLeod

‘As I stood on the precipice I felt the weight of my past pushing me closer to the edge.’


The day began as they usually do for me. I slept till mid-morning until my thoughts prodded me awake with the normal deluge of dark contemplation and brutal put downs. I was awake and wishing I could return to an unconscious state.


Sleep was a refuge for me, it never let me down and I could nap all day and still sleep at night. The general consensus from other people was that I was 'so lucky'. I would still sleep with all the ruminations of the day buzzing in my head, for all I knew it continued as I slept.


I considered staying in bed with the duvet over my head and pretend I was on a raft in the middle of the ocean with no one to interrupt my thoughts or to try and silence the chaos going on inside. I will not lie, I thought about it. I always do, but life and time moves on, with or without me, and so for today I decided to go with it.


I crawled from the sanctuary of my bed and went to the bathroom, today my morning ritual consisted of brushing my teeth and gargling some mouthwash. This was a step further than yesterday and two better than the day before. I made coffee and sat with my hands wrapped around the cup, stealing warmth from it. I always seemed to be cold, no matter the temperature.


I crossed the room and switched on the PC. I waited and glared at the screen while the CPU came alive with clicks and pops then the usual screensaver appeared. Taken from the top of a snow capped mountain by some intrepid climber who had decided to leave their backpack in the foreground, dwarfed by the spectacle surrounding it. The bright orange bag stole my focus and I stared at it, wishing I could so easily release myself from the burden I carried and set it down. Not sure I would have wanted the whole world to view it but then it would have appeared so much bigger and totally obliterated the true beauty of the mountains and lake below. I was now so weighed down with regret and sorrow I could not focus on what lay before me. I have climbed many a mountain but never this one, the stamina required would be beyond me.


I spent the next hour or so answering emails and getting the less important things out of the way. I didn’t have any steadfast plans today so there was nowhere I needed to be, no one I needed to see and nothing important I needed to do. I realise that having no purpose was not ideal for me. At the end of this day I expected to have achieved very little, however a part of me would consider this a day wasted. That’s the part of me that would make tomorrow so much worse, it would negate me, belittle me and pour scorn on me and my wasted day. My own worst enemy.


I switched off the pc, got up from the chair and opened the blinds. The sun burst through, initially blinding me then warming me, I squinting a little then I turned away and walked into the kitchen. The fridge was buzzing loudly and I opened the door and looked inside. In the door there was milk, fresh orange and one single bottle of cider. I stared at it for a while, unable to remember buying it or why it was even there. I reached in and paused, I believe I was going for the juice but my hand closed around the cold glass neck and I took the bottle out and set it on the counter. I flipped the top off and walked to the door, unlocking it and then sitting down on the cold concrete step. The sun had not deceived through the window, it was equally warm without the glass barrier. I sat there, lifted the bottle to my lips and drank the cider, it bubbled up in my mouth and I swirled it around before swallowing it down. It was exquisite and decadent in equal measure.


One of my neighbours passed by with a dog, he waved and smiled so I did the same. I wondered if he judged me, sitting here drinking cider, alone on a Wednesday morning. His judgement would never be as harsh as my own. Maybe he didn’t give it a second thought or maybe he was envious. I felt good, albeit a little naughty, breaking the rules, unconventional. Nothing was happening, my thoughts were still, silent, contemplative but nothing else. I stared at the bottle like it was a magic potion.


I was content. It doesn’t sound like a big deal but it was an alien concept to me. This very small, insignificant moment was not just joyful or uplifting, it was almost euphoric. When you have stood at the bottom of that mountain this must be what it felt like at the summit. Taking a photo for someone else’s screensaver.


So today, because of the sweet cider, the warm sun and that brief, exhilarating moment; I am marking down a point in the win column, regardless of what else the day brings. I had succeeded today. Not only had I managed to fool my neighbour with a wave and a fake smile, I had tricked myself, for a few minutes at least. My mind had found a tiny moment of calm, cool water in its tumultuous sea.


It left as quickly as it had arrived, a single cloud appeared and the gloom descended, my brow furrowed and I closed my eyes. Then as I stood on the precipice I felt the weight of my past push me closer to the edge.


Today, I pushed back.  


inner rebellion, personal strength, pushing barriers