The Refuge

From where Louise sat, she could see the bottom of the gorge. At a distance of three hundred meters, it seemed unusually close, the stream at the bottom clear and distinct. It flowed lazily, caressing the colourful rocks and then withdrawing, brushing flirtatiously, fondling the smooth stones in an interminable tease. Sitting at the very spot as a child she had retreated with regularity, always alone, always as an escape route from the vagaries of adolescence. This place was where she felt safe, her personal sanctuary; it listened to her with the subversive presence of a conspirator.

Louise had lived with her Aunt Theresa from the age of twelve. Her parents had died seven years ago in a vehicular accident leaving Louise in the care of her aunt. She had lived with a degree of relative comfort as her aunt being childless, allowed Louise to engage in her personal affections with little restrictions or supervision. It was Aunt Theresa who had acquainted her with her retreat, introduced her to this hermitage, gave her the gift of solitaire.

 Two weeks ago, without warning her Aunt Theresa died. She had gone to bed the night before with the mere complaint of a bit of a headache, and was discovered the next morning by the girl, lifeless. Louise was devastated. Now sitting here, she was assailed by disconsolate spirits issuing a languid melancholy, dreamy and sad.  

Rising slowly, she walked towards the edge of the cliff, careful not to disturb the loose stones at the perimeter. She saw the stream clearly her vision enhanced, seeing every pebble, blades of grass on the other slope, gaily tinted flowers. The wind took her hand and gently tipped her over, embraced her in a spiral without urgency towards the waiting stream.

Submitted: July 16, 2021

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