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She stood on the cliff and looked out to sea. The sky was grey, as was the sea, and she could barely make out the horizon. It was like staring out into nothing.

It was a beautiful spot, on the right day. On a still day, with the sun shining, you could stand here and look over a sea as still as a glass mirror, and look out to a horizon full of promise. The grass beneath your feet would be greener, the flowers around you brighter, than anywhere else on Earth. On the right day.

This was not the right day. There would never be another right day, not for her. Somewhere beyond the horizon, the only man she had ever loved was lost. Somewhere out there a war raged, and men like hers were lost every moment.

Perhaps somewhere out there, on another cliff, looking out over another sea, there was another woman just like her. Another woman with a letter in her hand, a letter that in any language meant a broken heart. Devastation in print.

She took a step closer to the edge. The sea was grey, cold and forbidding, and if she leaned over just a little she would see it crashing violently at the foot of the cliff. What would it be like, she wondered, to fall, to crash upon those waves, upon those rocks? What lay beyond? Would she be reunited with her lover?

A voice called out from somewhere behind her. The words were whipped away in the wind, but she knew what it meant. Now or never. She leaned out a little, looking down upon the waves and the rocks, and she let go of the letter. It blew away a little way to the east, then twisted out and away to sea, out to the waves. She watched the hateful words disappear, but they were forever printed on her heart.

“My brother has been lost in battle. I will tell no-one of your shame. I pray you will do the same. Please do not contact me again.”

She turned away from the sea, away from the last trace of her lover, and walked back home to her husband and child.

© Kari Fay