Tuesday, December 18, 2007

On The Edge

It seemed so strange, that the glimpse of the eerily-reflective water in the causeway should remind him of another moonlit night, so many years ago. When he had stood on a very different edge, surveying a very different panorama, and thinking very different thoughts.

As the mist drifted languidly across the water, illuminated by the ghostly lamp-posts lining the causeway, he absent-mindedly rubbed the ancient scar on his left wrist; over the years, it had faded quite a bit, and now was rarely noticed by even the sharpest observer. But he knew exactly where it was, even without so much as a glance, while his fingers instinctively knew where that old desperate line existed.

And what it had almost become.

He remembered that night, the knife sharp and glinting in the semi-darkness of the kitchen, backlit by the intrustion of the lights from the hall. Without realizing it, he winced as he had that night, when he had begun the little "practice cuts", working up the nerve to plunge the blade into his arm.

If they hadn't come home at just that moment...

His memory shifted abruptly to the other edge from his past: the cliff overlooking the freeway, the lights of the city spreading out before him, the water of the lake a distant and dark blur in the night. Unlike tonight, there was no starlit tranquility, no mist curling around glowing lampposts -- just a cold, biting wind and the resolve that he had felt as he tried to nerve himself to step off the edge and plunge to the busy highway below.

How many times had he stood there, berating himself inwardly for not having the courage to jump? How many times had he angrily stamped back down the hill, furious at himself for lacking the wherewithal to put an end to his own miserable existence?

He was abruptly jolted out of his reverie by the appearance of a shadowy figure across the water, striding to a pre-selected point on another edge. The figure carried something bulky, fiddling with it, until suddenly a mournful drone called across the water to him.

He couldn't help but shake his head, smiling slightly; what was it about misty nights and waterfronts that attracted bagpipers? It was almost a cliché, right down to... ah, there it was: the easily-recognizable strains of "Amazing Grace". There must be an unwritten rule, somewhere, that demands all pipers stand on waterfronts and play that song.

His smile faded and his countenance became more thoughtful as the long-memorized words of the song sprang to the forefront of his mind. "Amazing grace... a wretch like me... grace will lead me home..."

He turned away from the causeway's edge, just as he had turned away more than once on that cliff, so many years ago. But there was no anger, no recriminations, no loathing. In its place was a deep sense of wonder -- that grace had found him, so long ago. Of marvel -- at what might have been if grace hadn't found him (this caused an involuntary shudder). Of thanksgiving.

Grace, he mused. It really is just... amazing.

No comments:

Post a Comment