For me, time stands still. Just a memory, as I trace back the moments before, while real time moves forward. Always forward. Beckoning me to a time when it will stop for me, too.
But for now, I must live with what I have done. What others do not know. In the hope that others never find out a secret I must hold close. For evermore, walking in shadow, in case light betrays me.
Julie was perfection. Beauty personified. Eyes that shone with a brightness to put the sun to shame. Hair so fair, cascading down her back, purer than a glinting waterfall. A smile that lifted my heart higher than Everest. Limbs more graceful than the fleetest gazelle. A litany of purity I could write forever. Except for her heart.
The one she gave to another.
The nights she crept to my bed and feigned fatigue. The days we were apart and I had no sight of what she was doing, while I was away, on business abroad. I always imagined her waiting for my return, filling her day with the kind gestures she showed to others, spreading her generosity worthily. Not just on one other man. He’s gone now. He holds no memories. I can’t even say his name. Though try as I might he still intrudes my thought.
I lied. I didn’t go to Antwerp as I told her. I went to Hartland Quay. They were there. Atop the steep bluff of ancient mountain that forms a jagged cliff. A quiet spot on the coast path well north of the quay itself. Laughing, smiling, embracing on the travel rug from my car. Remains of a picnic to one side. Too engrossed to hear my steps. And oh, so near the edge.
Rage and adrenalin. A fatal combination. He had no chance. I flung myself at him and he tried to roll away. Further towards the edge. I stood and kicked at him and Julie grabbed my shoulders to pull me back. I twisted suddenly and she overbalanced, shouted with pain as she lurched away, lost her balance and went in a still graceful arc, over and down to the hard, rock strewn, beach below. He and I scrambled to look down at her broken body. I’d lost everything. And as he put his hands to his face in horror, I put mine on his back and shoved with all my might.
The papers recorded the sad tale of two picnickers, who fell to their death. Too close to the edge. An accident? Joint suicide? The inquest found no evidence of murder. But I have been imprisoned for life. With guilt and longing as my cell mates.