Brilliant sunlight floods the rock face we climb. The quartz veins in the limestone
shimmer near my gloved hand. The two of us scale the forty-five foot challenge with ease. We take
pictures of one another.
Alec teases me about my pink camera, and my sloppy climbing technique. We gather our
gear and walk across to the next plateau, passing crevices and brush. He leads, and I follow. His
sandy hair dances with every September gust. Alec’s shoulders are broad and he is tall compared to
my petite frame. His body is fit and the bronze of his skin reveals seasons of living to the fullest.
Alec is beautiful. The adage might be true that opposites attract. He is dark, and I am fair. Alec
thrives on adventures while I find adventure in books and history. I am not glamorous like the
women I would pair with his kind, but his love for me is pure. I don’t have to be anything more than
what I am, making me love him even more, if it were possible.
The azure sky is a breathtaking backdrop for puffy white clouds to sail by. This day is
magical only because I am alone with him.
Alec jogs back in the direction of our last climb when I realize my camera is missing, and
I continue on the trek to set up for our next climb. I grow uneasy; does he need my help? He’s been
gone too long, and I try to stay calm as I make my way back to the top of the ledge.
“Alec…Alec!” I say, but no answer comes.
Eyeing the ledge, my fear mounts and can no longer be ignored. Panic grips me and
without hesitation I make my way to the drop off. I slowly peek over. His voice behind me says my
Turning, I am blinded by the searing rays of the afternoon sun. I see only a tall shadow
before large hands violently shove my shoulders with such force I am thrust over the rock wall. My
scream fills the canyon. I am free falling down, down. My lungs ache for a breath in this deep
darkness. I am suffocating. I experience excruciating pain and ultimate despair. All hope escapes my
Sound and sight are extinct now. My world is black.
Warmth surrounds my feet and travels slowly up my body. My afflictions are gone. My
eyelids are open, to a foreign place. I rise and begin to walk, but my feet don’t touch the sand. I float
along a quiet shoreline. The sterling sea is calm. Without sun or moon this place is neither day nor
night, but dusk-like. Through the mist a figure approaches.
Her body glides towards me. She is draped in shimmering silver, her face expressionless.
Her gaze is not at me, but beyond me.
Curious, I turn, only infinite shoreline. My quivering hands cover my racing heart.
She seems to sense my fear as she studies me. Large round eyes peer into mine, into my
soul. Her blank expression is replaced with tender mercy. Her friendly eyes promise no harm. I am
no longer afraid. I can’t see, but I feel her smile. She is blissful; her immense joy radiates around her
like sparkling crystals.
My face is now wet from the mist, yet her ivory skin is smooth and dry. Before I can form
words, she does.
“No one can prepare for a time as this. The sun itself fades in brilliance a bit with each
passing day. Eyes look but do not see. Purity drains from the hearts of good men. Find the Circle of
Sun. A tender seed must push through bitter soil to survive,” she says and points behind me. “Let the
prints lead you.”
The footprints behind me are mine.
She interrupts my thoughts.
“Follow their path to your sun.”
I bask in her radiant warmth as her graceful hand touches my face.
Her gaze never leaves me as she glides away.
I watch as she melts into the distance. I want to follow, but she is gone. Few and unclear
were her words. All I can do is begin. I turn and take the first step.
My heavy eyelids open to blurred edges of brilliant color, strange bouquets cover the
ceiling. I blink to focus and the scene becomes clear. Taped to the ceiling are vivid crayon-filled
pictures, children’s artwork thoughtfully placed for those waking up.
Suddenly a face casts a smile down at me.
“Dr. Crenshaw is here to check in on you,” says a nurse.
“Quinn, how are you feeling? Your surgical procedure went very well, and with your
recent progress, we can begin to discuss getting you out of here after all of these months. I am sure
you are ready,” the doctor says.
I am completely baffled by this conversation and I struggle to communicate. My
confusion is obvious to him and he pats my hand. Me? In the hospital for months? I am disconnected
to reality, free falling again.
“You are still groggy, I will be back in the afternoon to check in on you,” he says kindly.
My drowsy state can only mean I am still dreaming. The memory of the misty grey ocean
beckons and I remember the mystical place. Desperate to return to the silver shoreline, I fall into
sleep hoping to see her again.
During the next week reality rolls in like an unwelcomed storm. Added to confusion is
loss. Alec is gone. Pain permeates every fiber of my being, and the waves of grief crest and ebb.
Hikers found us at the bottom of the rock face, Alec dead and me clinging to life. In death, Alec
saved my life, his body breaking my fall. I am horrified at the picture this paints in my mind. Alec is
gone, and even though I survived the accident, I will need months of recovery. Investigators did not
seriously consider what I told them about being pushed. My pink camera was never found, perhaps it
never existed. Trauma can produce false memories, they explained. The only logical theory of what
happened on the cliff has been difficult to accept. Alec fell and my shock at seeing him dead, caused
me to fall too. Although I could not identify who the shadowy figure was, I know it was Alec’s voice
making me to turn. How is it possible? If he pushed me, how could his body break my fall? I can’t
put the pieces together. As my body heals, answers elude me. I recall the panic as I approached the
edge. I heard Alec’s voice behind me saying my name. I was blinded by the sun. I remember hands
forcefully pushing me. It’s not possible. Alec would never hurt me. I reluctantly accept their version
of the accident as reality. Logically it makes sense, so I struggle to recapture my confidence and
stabilize my mental state.