Reta eased her running, slowing the treadmill, as she let her muscles relax in relief.
Two minutes later, she went to her yoga mat for cool down stretching exercises, nimbly extending her legs and arms as far as she could. Then she lay flat on her back on the yoga mat, her face and palms glistening with sweat.
When she started her exercises, it had been cold. So, she dressed appropriately. She wore a black seamless lurex pullover and high-waist leggings with her feet ensconced in Nike running shoes. She lay for a few minutes savouring the rush of warm blood coursing through her taut veins as her muscles relaxed after a two-hour long onslaught.
Her reverie broke only when she heard her phone buzz for the umpteenth time. She never picked up the phone when she was working out and all her contacts knew her routine. She sighed and stood up, walked over to the window sill and picked up the phone. She looked at the caller’s name and her shoulders arched up.
“Hallo,” she said softly, trying to hide her excitement.
She listened to the caller for a minute and she cut in, “That’s great…”
Her face fell a few minutes later, her glowing pretty face suddenly losing colour, turning into a frown, and then sinking further into a distressed woebegone look. Her eyes crinkled up.
“Oh,” is all she said, and then continued to repeat herself – inserting an “ok” now and then, in-between the conversation.
“Ok,” she said again, for the final time.
Then the conversation ended with, “Yeah sure! I am getting into it.”
Gone was the exuberance she had felt when she finished her workout. She felt drained and incapacitated. She looked through the window and saw the ocean churning a frothy tide. Some distance away, she could see the other houses by the cliff. Further way down, a few miles away, she could see the white beach trying to get one over with the sea. It was still daylight. She turned to look at the other end of the window and could see the wind gaining speed as the shrubs and the few barren trees swayed dangerously.
She looked at the phone again, tempted to make a call, but seemed undecided. She put the phone down and walked out of the fitness room. She crossed the living room and into the open kitchen and poured a glass of water from the jar on the table. She sipped the water slowly, her face still reflecting a numbed feeling.
“What do I do? Talk to John and end it once for all?” she frowned at the thought.
She had waited long enough. This was getting ridiculous. After everything, this! When everything seemed to be going fine!
She was getting agitated and even more upset.
She placed the glass on the table, and left the kitchen.
Damn, this was not the end!
She went into her bedroom, entered her closet and absentmindedly picked the colorful kanga on the edge of a shelf. She tied it around her waist, then delved through the overflowing wardrobe, pulling out a sleeveless woolen top. She wore it too, and left the closet. In her bedroom, she looked out the windows, and shivered involuntarily. It was going to be cold and windy outside. Should I? she wondered. She wanted to go out. Clear her head. Do something other than think of the phone call. She returned to the closet and picked out a cap, wore it and left the bedroom.
She was about to walk out the front door when she froze, midstep. She smiled wanly at herself, and detoured. She went to the bedroom across hers, opened the door and peeped in. She sighed with relief and then gently walked to the cradle to check if the baby was breathing. Assured the baby was fine, she left the bedroom, and hurried to the gym. She picked up the baby monitor on the yoga mat and put it in her pocket.
On the way out, she peeked at herself in the large mirror by the back door and saw that she had become pale. She tried to smile and pinched her cheeks. She tried to smile again, failed and shook her head at her own naivety and left the house.
She walked slowly, trying to ignore the cold and the wind. The sun was setting fast, lending to the gloom around her. The path was rocky, the shrubs and the grass around the area were losing their colour. She saw nothing of it – her mind still not coming to terms with the new situation. After a turn here, an upward stride there, she was soon at the edge of the cliff over 300 feet up from the ground. The rocky cliff itself fell ninety degrees straight into the rocky edges where the Atlantic Ocean met Africa.
She stood at the edge, the wind whipping her kanga into a frenzy, she looked back at the lights in her house, checking if John was back. But no, it didn’t look like it. She took out the baby monitor and held it to her ear, to see if it was working. It was. She put it back into her pocket and turned back to stare into the cold Atlantic Ocean that seemed to be frolicking with the wind. Her kanga fluttered wildly threatening to come loose. She felt her waist to see if it was tucked in securely. Her kanga was going wild and it reminded her of the stoat’s so-called ‘dance of death.’ She had watched it on the National Geographic Channel – the stoat– a puny animal that looked like a mix of a rat and a beaver or a weasel. Her Kanga was behaving like a stoat doing its famed dance: flapping, swirling around with frenzied leaps, and upward rolls at dizzying speed, creating a psychedelic vision that was at once riveting as well as dizzying.
She looked up and shook her head, clearing her head of the vision of the stoat and her unruly kanga. The cold was now penetrating her skin. Her face was going numb but she did not seem to realise it. There was a lump in her throat and then the tears flooded down her cheeks and she cried loudly. The howling wind helped her along.
No, she had to do it. She told herself grimly while trying to control her sobbing. It was just two feet away.
She took one step forward. The wind seemed to support her decision. She paused and then the baby monitor came alive.
“Hey Love! Where are you? I’m home!” Her husband’s cheery voice broke through the wind.
She stepped back from the edge and turned around to look towards the house. She had to wait a few seconds before her husband came into view on the porch, with the baby in his arms. He seemed to be scouting for her but it was getting darker and she doubted he could see her.
She put the monitor away and walked swiftly back to the house.
“There you are!” John kissed her on the cheek while trying not to suffocate the baby.
“Yes,” she replied. “Was by the cliff – Phew it is cold and windy!”
“So, any good news?” John asked as both of them walked back into their warm and cozy living room.
Reta took the baby from him and cooed into her face making baby talk. There was no sign of her gloomy self by the cliff. The light was back in her eyes and her skin glowed in the light of the fireplace.
“Sure is,” Reta replied. “I am being called for another screen test tomorrow.”
“Swell!” John said. “Congrats – and what role is this for?”
“That screenplay we read together…of the love triangle? They offered me the wife’s role. You know – the one who is supposed to be schizophrenic and suicidal…”
“Nice,” John said. “You will surely get the role.”
”Of course, I will. I just had a practice run by the cliff and I was awesome.”
Reta had a flair for dramatics at short notice.
Story by Phil Dass writing for the Prompt: She stood at the edge of a cliff, the wind whipping her kanga into a frenzy, she looked back….
This little gem was written by Phil last week for a writing prompt exercise. I loved the dancing kanga in the air, colorful, and fighting with the wind like a Stoat. ^_^ Didn’t even know there was an animal like this. You learn as you read more! Tidbit from Phil: – The story is titled Atlantic as Reta’s emotions are turbulent and changing like the Atlantic Ocean. I look forward to reading more stories by Phil Dass.