She took one last look at the kitchen, making sure the burners were turned off. She was always inclined to leave everything neat and tidy. Nothing carelessly forgotten. No loose ends. Why should today be any different?
After locking the door, she set off down the trail that ran behind her little cottage, toward the cliff’s edge to the spot that used to be called “Suicide Point” but more recently had been renamed as “Valley View.” It had been and still was a well-known tourist attraction. But in February, there were few tourists around. She didn’t expect to encounter anyone on the trail, not even a local dog-walker. She had picked this hour, as most people in this town took their walks later in the afternoon, even on a clear and crisp day like this one. She didn’t want anyone to get in the way.
After years of coping poorly, this had to be the way out. She wondered why she hadn’t thought of it sooner. She had been gone from Kodaikanal for years. The cottage had been built by her mother’s grandpa and had been her family’s happy place. She remembered the childhood vacations here: climbing trees, picking peaches, wading through the creek at the bottom of the hill, collecting pebbles, and the long walks with their dogs, along this very trail. But these fond memories had faded with adulthood, after two divorces, the disastrous change in career, the incident with her narcissist boss, and as a last straw, the way she had been tossed to the curb by her own, now adult, child. The detritus of these experiences had changed her. Tossed about, worn down, and washed out, much like a pebble on a riverbed. She had held herself responsible for everything, unable to forgive or love herself. Enough was enough.
Reaching her destination, she noted with relief that she was alone. She stepped around the partial barrier that had been erected to warn people of the danger. Holding on to the guardrail, she leaned forward and looked down past the rim of the bluff. She could see how tiny the boulders looked, so far away below, but the dizzying view over the yawning precipice did not frighten her. She was determined to end her misery and wretchedness.
Leaning back against a bollard, she took out the letter she had written and read the words aloud.
“To those that have hurt and tormented me, I want to thank you. You taught me everything I should never be or do to anyone. I forgive you for the pain, which for too long, I accepted as my burden to bear. I won’t bear it anymore. I divest myself of it. After this, you won’t be able to hurt me. I am taking away your power.”
She could feel the wind pushing against her body, as though ready to lift her away. It was time.
She took a deep breath. As she exhaled, she released the hurt, heartache, shame, anger, and despair that she had never been able to shake loose. She folded the letter and put it back into her pocket, retrieving in its stead the pebble she had brought with her. In one slow, deliberate motion, she tossed the pebble into the void below. Done. Turning around, smiling, with a keen sense of freedom and joy, she started back down the trail toward the cottage, thinking of the lasagna and peach cobbler warming in the oven. She hadn’t felt this light, this carefree, this exuberant, in a long time.
Jo Nageswaran Kinnard is a philosopher and writer who loves exploring cultures, learning languages, and living close to nature. She is a published author with two books (Wadsworth/Cengage, Wipf and Stock), several articles, and papers in the academe and technology space. She enjoys reading and writing non-fiction, and anything that questions our assumptions.
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