edge of everything

April 24, 2013

in Short Stories

He stood in the field on the other side of the hedge, staring. I watched from behind the half closed curtains. The door was open wide enough for cats to escape. I could hear the birds in the hawthorn, the rush of the wind through the oak leaves like waves coming ashore, the clunk-clunk as the loose sliding door moved back and forth in its frame, and a dull roar.

It was 10am, I was up late again. Another night of heavy coughing keeping me awake to spew blood into stacks of tissues now littering the bedroom floor. I knew when I woke a pink stain would have already bled through the tissues to the carpet fibres. The hiss of a spray can of carpet foam the first sound I heard every morning, cold tea the first taste to wash down the anti-sickness tablets. The cats were already out. Sunlight slinked through gaps and around the sides of the curtains. I’d slipped my hands into the warm slice between the thick fabrics and started to pull them apart. That’s when I heard it. That’s when I stopped. That’s when I hid. That’s when I saw him there staring.

I cling to the edge of the curtain. I’m at the edge of everything. It’s a repeated pattern that has ebbed through all my relationships, my relationships with everything but most of all with people – groups of people. Fitting and not fitting, somehow apart, separate. Jumping about in the spotlight while watching from the flower papered walls. Polarised – the extrovert and the introvert – the attention seeker fighting for dominance over the hermit.

The hermit always won. Sometimes it’d take months, years but the hermit, the drawing away, always followed. As time passed the hermit gained more and more control. I don’t know if I made it that way or if it’d always been there. If it was meant to be that way. A reflection of what was to come for this life. This life that stands at the edge of everything, the tipping point from then to now.

You know it’s coming. If you don’t feel it it’s probably not going to happen in this life. I’ve always known. It’s always been there in the back of my mind. There’s a tipping point coming. An edge bigger than anything you’ve seen before, bigger than the Grand Canyon, the Cliffs of Insanity, bigger than the abyss of every falling nightmare. And you’re going over it.

I didn’t know when it was coming. I had no concept of time, place, how wrinkled my hands would be when I got there. How sallow my skin would be, how thin and saggy my body would be. I lost touch with it. Didn’t believe it was going to happen it took so long in this buffer of time. I began to question my faith, my feelings, my knowings. I ignored the callings in my mind as false prophets, strung them up, crucifying them as lies, damn lies. And all the while, deep, deep down, I knew the truth. That this life would stand at the edge of everything.

I’d wanted it sooner. Before the whisperings of paranoia swore it for falsehood. When I’d been strong and joyful. When the sparkle was everywhere – in the light that danced on the green ripples of the ocean, in the waves of clouds surging and crashing against the canyon walls, the grass, the flowers, the trees, the sounds of the birds and the drone of the bees. The laughter, uproarious then tinkling glass falling to the floor, shattering about my feet, lacerating toes as it glittered its final appeal before turning to dust. I’d wanted it then, when I was happy and ready. Ready to face a new challenge, ready to leap over the edge casting faith before me.

Not now, not jaded, half lost with a pink stained carpet, blood soaked tissues and a diary of doctors’ appointments.

Not now, not with pain shrieking through my bones, lifting my skull as it tries to escape.

And now I stand clutching the edge of the curtain knowing what I’ve always known, none of it matters any more.

The wind still rushes the leaves, the birds still call as they nest in the trees, the door I should’ve fixed still clunking in its frame.

None of it matters any more.

He stares. The sky is blue, clear, more than crystal, like diamond icebergs.

None of it matters anymore.

It’s all drowned out by the edge of everything rushing towards us from the blue.

I wonder if he knew. As he stares towards the sky I wonder if he knew his life was at the edge of everything. Had he ever questioned that knowing? Did those voices ever crowd in his head, screaming through his blood vessels? Was he torn apart or was he resolute in knowing? Accepting of this life’s fate? The way he stares though, glazed eyes, slack jaw, the spade lying by his feet, fallen from his hands.

No, he didn’t know. This is his first glimpse. He hasn’t fully realised the importance. Well, there’s a part of him that has. A part of him is screaming louder than it’s ever screamed before, roaring to be heard above the deafening incomprehension. That’s why he stares. He knows and he doesn’t know. A 6’2” barrel-chested paradox in wax jacket, jeans and wellies, staring into the blue screaming silently towards his fate, suddenly aware the edge of everything is upon him.

I have time to look. There is time to see, to see what I’ve always known and it’s a true movie moment. A rerun of every childish recurring nightmare. A repeat of a repeat, looping the loop from first awareness to the edge of everything.

I don’t remember when I first saw it. Like knowing who my mother was, I just knew, have always known and seeing him stare I wonder if it’d been better had I not been aware. There wouldn’t have been the lost decades of paranoia and question upon question, the cross examination of faith. Maybe the laughter wouldn’t have shattered quite so quickly, would’ve stayed uproariously buoyant for so much longer. Maybe I’d have been a part of instead of separate from. Maybe I’d have fitted. But I didn’t. How could I when I knew all along. Even when it tore at my insides ripping away every wall, every fortress, destroying all defences, I knew.

I knew it.


And I can never know if it would’ve been different had the edge of everything not sliced right through me, carved me to the core like Blackpool rock.

It looks as it always looked. Blue and silver. I can’t see my knuckles but I know they are white clinging as they are to the edge of the curtain – this fabric the last defence and never, ever enough.

None of it matters anymore.

Over to you, Terry…

Thanks, Chris…
Authorities have responded to a plane crash in a village on the outskirts of Chester. It is believed the twin-engine plane involved is owned by Hollywood A-lister Jack Gunn, in town to promote his latest film. It’s not yet known if the star of the action movie series EDGE was piloting the plane.

Jack Gunn, a proficient pilot, is known for his high adrenaline stunts to promote his movies, the latest of which, EDGE OF EVERYTHING, is due to open in cinemas nationwide on Friday.

It is not yet known if anyone else was injured in the crash, although one house was severely damaged. Local police and crash investigators are on the scene. We’ll have more for you at 4pm.

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lesley swain April 24, 2013 at 12:42 pm

Deeply disturbing for me my sweets…….too many echos of reality.
But the actual writing, the construction, the vocabulary, is awesome.
I wouldn’t dare criticisebecause I don’t know enough about you to now what well this piece is drawn from.

wildelycreative April 25, 2013 at 12:06 pm

I’m sure we will discuss it in more detail when we meet in May and delve into the wells.

janet harris April 25, 2013 at 6:29 am

goodness me – I couldn’t stop reading – desperate to make sense of it – enthralled about where it was taking me – wanting to know “what happened” – not sure if I understand it all – but happy with the experience of craving more! my little genius carves her niche in yet another tablet….

wildelycreative April 25, 2013 at 12:09 pm

Thanks Jan. Seems it was as compelling to write as it was to read.

Paula June 14, 2015 at 9:45 pm

Hi Karen,

Your writing is just as good as I remember. It’s poignant and unsettling. Let me know if you get a collection together.

wildelycreative June 16, 2015 at 9:01 am

Thanks Paula, I will. Good luck with your book.

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