On a sombre autumn evening a boy stood at the edge of a cliff, looking out at the ferocious waves that rolled out beneath him. An aggressive wind tugged at his clothes, as if trying to pull him away from the jagged ledge, but he didn’t move. Sweat dripped off his face as he exhaled a sigh of relief. He had to get away from them, the other students of St Jude’s. He had had enough of their constant harassment and abuse. Their company was intolerable.
Mark knew that the teachers would be oblivious to his absence from the group. They never really paid much attention to the children in their care, the most they ever did before going on a trip like this one was to take a rough count of the children before they left the institution. They avoided the students as much as possible, particularly Mark. To the staff he was known as “That Strange Boy”, and to the other children he was simply known as “The Freak”.
Mark was different, so people had always treated him differently. He was skinnier and lankier than most boys his age. He had long, dark unkempt hair that clung to his face like greasy curtains, his clothes were always grubby looking. Nobody knew that he was like this because his parents were unable to care for him properly. Nobody knew that he was only quiet because he had had trouble trusting people since he was a small child.
Nobody cared about Mark or his problems and he knew this. He knew that if he jumped of that cliff there and then he would not be missed. Sure, people would come and look for his body; the establishment that was supposed to be caring for him would look bad if they didn’t. But it would not daunt anyone if he were alive or dead.
The thought of this settlesd in Mark’s mind and angered him further. His breathing became deeper and his face darkened to a shade of magenta. The anger consumed him like a terrible animal. Horrid memories battered his mind; arriving at school each morning and being greeted with a cacophony of insults; outstretched feet waiting for a chance to trip him up and lockers stuffed to the brim with a plethora of insulting notes that accused him of a range of things, from being homosexual to being a middle aged woman.
The blizzard of dangerous memories settled to an incident that occurred the previous day. The ocean churned below him as the grass around him danced and swayed in the breeze. He tried his very best to avert his attention to something else, anything else.
Mark had arrived at school to the usual buffet of threats and insults. This didn’t faze him, he was used to it. But as he slunk to his locker he grew suspicious, something was different. The clusters of students that usually congested the corridors to run and spread gossip and lies between each other now stood still. Every cold, beady eye was focused on him. They were waiting. The lock opened with a click, and silence shrouded the hallway. Without warning the locker door swung open and a cascade of feminine hygiene products rained down upon him. The last few dropped from his locker and into the pile that engulfed him as the surrounding crowd exploded into vigorous laughter.
Mark could normally deal with the pranks that his fellow students played on him, he would put them to the back of his mind and do his best to not let them resurface.
But this time was different.
The wind howled sympathetically as the event continued to play over and over in his head in a never-ending loop.
Fixed to the cliffs edge, all Mark could hear was the thunderous laughter of all the students, and even some of the teachers that were present at the time. All he could see were all the faces that had ever humiliated him, circling him like a swarm of angry wasps.
His gaze flickered to the ocean. The water slapped off the grumpy rocks. It looked inviting. Perhaps the white foam could wash away the anguish. Yes, there would be pain, but it would be followed by permanent peace.
Marks mind commanded him to jump and proceeded to show him all the things that could be left behind, all the things he would be free from. His body told him to stay. His mind shouted at him to obey it.
The laughing faces continued to torture him. His heart felt as though it was about to beat through his chest. As he leant over the edge of the cliff he felt a strong sense of vertigo. “Go!” screamed his mind. “Stop!” retorted his jelly like legs.
The internal brawl was interrupted by a roar from hell; “Mark, you imbecile! Come away from there!” The aggressive command came so suddenly that Mark was knocked out of his reverie. He stumbled. Pebbles and earth crumbled away from the edge of the cliff and succumbed to the violent water. Mark’s feet moved spontaneously in an attempt to regain his balance.
The group from St Jude’s materialised and scuttled to form a ring around him. Each person held their breath as they watched the misfortunate boy stumble.
A hushed silence fell as a stiff body flopped off the cliff and plummeted in to the murky water below. The sea rose and swallows it whole.
© Copyright 2016 Emer Hayes. All rights reserved.
Short Story / Literary Fiction
Short Story / Flash Fiction
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