The View From Up Here

by Dimpra Kaleem

THE VIEW FROM UP HERE

The wind was playing havoc with the hem of her dress as it pushed the thin material against her legs, highlighting the contours with every gust and threatening to expose an awful lot more to anyone who would find such a sight interesting, if not erotic. Moments like this required stocking tops, she mused. Situations glamorised by the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable and the like, but she never really had the figure to carry such things off. She was more of a legging, or pantyhose kind of girl.

Articles of clothing that would hide such short and dumpy legs.

Thick thighs and cankles considered by the mainstream media as 'unworthy' of a public viewing, but up here it didn't matter if the wind tore the clothes from her - she was alone and far away from the public and social judgments that had haunted her since her teenage years.

She smiled at the irony of her last thought as she let he mind drift back to that strange and frightening time in every young woman's life when they morph into something, and someone very different - seemingly overnight. Sometimes it was pre-ordained what you would become.

The image of your mother, with the temperament of your father maybe? So many variations potentially being played out, with a cocktail of Grandmothers and other varying ancestry all vying for genetic dominance, until finally settling into place.

So many body types to choose from, with the choice never being completely your own.

Would she inherit the mother of the fathers DNA patterns?

Tall and thin?

Short and fat?

Flat chest or with a bosom that would impress - or repulse, depending on your sexual preference?

Such a lottery being played out during that short, unforgiving time.

And then 'BANG!' - There you were for the entire world to judge.

Winner or loser? - The big question that was never yours to answer.

She took a deep breath in order to settle the storm in her head.

The air was cleaner up here and the world looked almost peaceful.

Clear blue skies ran forever in all directions, carrying birds, clouds and planes. So much space filled with radio and television waves that carried the thoughts and ideas of so many to the four corners of the world.

If the world had corners - She smiled.

Phones calls wishing joy to those with birthdays, and hope to those who craved such attention. Huge metal tubes powering their way through the air with a noise that threatened to tear the very sky itself, bringing people together, or taking them away to some place else. Places where troubles could temporarily be forgotten, with romances forged and the promise of fidelity broken so easily by a mixture of seduction, sun and alcohol.

So much open space to step into.

One more added attempt to fill that space - if only for a short moment.

A decision so hard to make, with a step so easy to take.

She looked around and smiled.

She really could see her house from here.

That small two-bedroom house where she had grown up and shared with her parents during such a carefree, innocent time - Such a happy time.

Happier times - hopeful times.

Her own first sexual encounter as a teenager happened in that very street, being that of a brief fumble in the back of a car, the thought of which made her blush a little, for it served now as nothing more that an embarrassing memory of that awkward time. By the age of twenty her world had been turned into a cesspool of broken promises and false proclamations of love from the men in her life, and there had been so many - too many. Categorised as they had been in the years to come as lesson learnt, relegated from embarrassing to that of distant and painful memories.

One step forward would end it all - The pain and loneliness.

Or maybe it would be the start of something else?

  "I guess it depends on what you believe in," she said to herself.

She turned slightly - Carefully at first, as not to slip.

If these were to be her last moments on earth, then it would be by her own hand, and not by way of a careless accident, for so much of her life had been this way. In an out of frying pans of varying heat only to land into pots of hot water.

Ever relentless in their punishment, and non-forgiving in their pain.

From where she faced now she could see the small lawyers office where she had worked. It had been her place of employment for the past fifteen years when she had first walked through the doors as a young and impressionable girl of twenty-three.

But from day one there had been the subversive whispering.

Comments about her size, her choice of clothing and her constant, embarrassing flirting with any man who paid her the slightest bit of attention. Not that it wasn't true, but nobody likes hearing the truth about themselves. Sure, there had been more than one occasion where she had found herself in compromising positions with some of the junior staff.

If the truth were told, some of the senior gentlemen had paid her the same attention when late nights had reduced the possibility of discovery from their wives - impending or otherwise.

This made her the impossible target for dismissal. Feared as she was by the knowledge that she could supply any half decent divorce lawyer with the ammunition they needed, and equally hated by the women that could not share their suspicions aloud without incurring the wrath of that same dismissal.

So rumours were shared, and a reputation was forged.

The wind snapped her from her reminiscence, but for all its efforts it still did not manage to raise the hem of her dress above her knees, failing badly where so many men had succeeded.

It did, however, cause he to wobble slightly, and so the eased herself gently into a sitting position until she was ready to make her decision.

As her legs dangled freely over the edge, she kicked them out slowly - one at a time, as a child would do in times of boredom.

The noise of the church bells swam lazily through the thin air.

Saint Julian's was at least twenty miles away from here.

She marvelled at how the sound could be carried so far without being hampered by the day-to-day background noise of traffic and the like. It was nearly as clear as the day when she had been married there almost ten years ago, and as they rang another memory sparked into life - An altogether less disturbing one - Happy almost.

Love had been an alien feeling to her when he had walked into her life, for feelings of lust and a low self esteem had been so commonplace that it was almost as if it was part of her genetic makeup.

Dictating the way she walked, talked and dressed.

But he was different.

He saw passed the heels and the obvious cleavage - the red hair and glasses, instead choosing to see the woman who had hidden behind the monster. This strange and perverse creation that had been used more as a defence mechanism that an imaginary friend.

They had dated - Held hand even, as they walked together through parks and market places - shops and malls.

They had kissed and made love.

Unhurried sex instead of the rushed fevered, instant gratification that had been so much part of her life. He poured his desire over every curve of her body, relishing in its imperfection thus making it perfect by his actions and lust for who she was - and not what she had become.

And then one summer's afternoon he had asked for her hand in marriage.

She had accepted - well of course she had, for the way he made her feel made her past seem like an unpleasant dream - not even important enough to qualify as a nightmare.

But there time together was snow.

As the stark light of reality hit them both, waking her from this gossamer dream, it melted on the day she had died.

One small step in the wrong direction had sealed her fate.

One look in the wrong direction

The screech of tires.

The sickening sound of bone against metal.

The screams - The end.

She took a deep breath and tried to expel the memory along with air she no longer needed, returning instead back to the church bells as they rang out a slow rhythmic toll.

Not for a wedding this time but a funeral - Hers.

They would bury her body soon and all in attendance would wonder as to his absence, but she knew he could not bring himself to say goodbye, instead choosing to sit alone in the very park that they had shared that first kiss, struggling with emptiness in his heart that was as vacuous as the one she now faced.

It was as if his own heart had stopped beating at the same time as hers.

His life was without meaning without her in it.

The sun that had shone on them both had set - never to rise again.

So one final step then.

So an easy action, fuelled as it was by such a hard decision - The hardest.

She stood once more and stared out into the vast space that beckoned to her with a wind that seemed to call her name.

She smoothed down her dress against that same playful and mischievous wind.

Up or down? - Another decision that was not hers to make.

A movement to her right caused her to start slightly as someone else stepped up onto the ledge with her.

He smiled and held out his hand as a tear rolled down her face in recognition. She took his hand, a hand that was as comforting and strong in death as it had been in life and looked into his clear blue eyes, happy that the choice was no longer hers to make alone.

She had waited long enough. Years had passed as her love had taken the longest road in order that they complete their journey together.

Many more would step onto that same ledge in the years to come, as those who had done before them.

Some would wait, and some wouldn't hesitate to walk into the cold thin air alone, but all would look back before stepping forward - but this was not their time. For today the story of the girl who, for most of her life questioned her own worth, and of the man who saw a goddess instead of a demon, ended as they both stepped into a new beginning - Together.

  THE END

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