Image ©J.R.Bee 2018
Down by the shoreline ran a cliff battered by many storms and punished by the relentless onslaught of the sea.
It had once been home to a hermit, or a wizard, who had once banished/ summoned some young dragon. There was maybe a sacrifice to a fire-breathing maid. The legend changed dependant on who told the story, as these things often do.
The beach must have been relatively young; its pebbly surface was littered with massive rocks yet to be whittled down to pebble size. It was considerably uncomfortable to walk across, but because of peoples need to be beside the sea they suffered it anyway.
Across its painful surface, three young girls gingerly waddled their way across the hot rocks, oblivious to the many cuts and scratches that were afflicting their young feet. Autumn was just beginning, and whilst the sea was now too rough and cold to swim in the beach was still pleasant enough to draw in the locals who had avoided its shores in the busy tourist-laden summer.
They were heading for the cave, a place they had been many times before. That little hollowed out cavern with its single window had been Merlin’s cave, a dragons den, a mighty castle, and a dingy dungeon.
The trio knew it well, and the cold, damp air with its intense salty smell of dried up seaweed seemed like a friendly greeting.
They were of course forbidden from going in there. Something about needles and the iron rods that jutted from concrete chunks that had drifted in from goodness knows where. The rods made excellent swords.
“Let’s play pirates!” Said the smallest of the three excitedly.
“Nah, that’s dumb,” said the taller blond kid, the unofficial leader of the group, “let’s climb up to the window.”
The window was old and crumbling, and the walls up to it slippery. The youngest felt her enthusiasm for the day flee, leaving only anxiety; whilst the third, darker haired girl agreed at once. Forever her partner in crime.
The two girls sped over to the window, leaving the third to saunter nervously behind them. She wasn’t much of a climber, it wasn’t that she couldn’t get up, it was getting down, and the thought of coming down at speed made her mentally wince. But she daren’t complain, she knew she was at the bottom of the pecking order in this trio and any reluctance would be seen as weakness and would be mocked.
In a trice, the two taller girls had made it up to the window,
“Come on Sal,” the blonde girl grinned down at her.
Sally knew the moment she made it up there they would immediately get down again. She didn’t think they meant to torment her, she felt sure they saw it only as teasing, but it it was sure hard not to take it personally.
“I’m getting there,” replied Sally with as much gusto as she could manage.
Slowly but surely Sally climbed the wall, taking more time than the others as she thought through each hand and foothold, changing her mind often when the rock felt too slippery. The other two above her chatted away about the things they could see out of the window, and occasionally snickered at her slowness.
When Sally reached the top she realised with a jolt that she didn’t have room to manoeuvre to pull herself up onto the ledge. The thought of going down so soon did not appeal, and neither did the thought of staying put.
Perhaps noticing her sweaty brow and pale skin Elle took pity on her and budged aside, but Charlene merely laughed at Sal’s feeble attempts to join them. And then everything seemed to be happening in slow motion. Sally’s fingers slipped, she was falling backwards. Char’s laughter rang in her ears, and the backlit heads of her friends made them look like they had halos, but shadows hid their faces and they seemed more like a pair of angelic demons watching her fall from grace.
The landing didn’t hurt, which surprised her so much that it took a few moments before she even thought about trying to move.
Charlene and Elle were scrambling down the wall, almost falling themselves in their panic.
Sally stood up, grinning with relief, and vaguely wondering why there was blood on her chest. Something like a metal rod was sticking through it, but it didn’t hurt.
In conusfion, she looked up at her friends, but they were staring wide eyed and open mouthed at the ground, but Sally couldn’t see anything there.
“We’ll be in soo much trouble!” whined Char,
“Trouble?” Cried Elle, as if that was the last thing on her mind.
“It’s ok,” said Sally, as she continued to stare at the metal rod in her chest, “we can pretend it didn’t happen here.”
“We have to pretend that it didn’t happen here,” said Char bossily, as if she hadn’t heard Sally. Sally felt a surge of anger, Char often did this, and every time she felt that deep-seated anger that never managed to burst past the surface, and this time she was standing here possibly bleeding to death and they wouldn’t even look at her!
“Oy!” She yelled, but they didn’t even flinch.
“But why Char? Why’d you push her?”
It was like someone had turned the sound off. Sally remembered now, Char had been holding her hands and playfully shoving, laughing at her fear and her pleas for Char to stop until she stopped pleading. She stopped because she fell.
Sally drew herself up to her full height and slapped Char hard in the face, but her hand went straight through. Char’s eyes widened in shock as if she’d felt something, but her shock was nothing to Sally’s.
She stared at her hand as if seeing it for the first time, was she? Could she? Had she… died? But why couldn’t she see her own body, would she even want to? Perhaps as confirmation that she wasn’t dreaming. She poked Elle’s arm, but her hand went straight through feeling nothing but a slight warmth. Elle, on the other hand, shivered and rubbed the spot she’d been touched.
She looked at Char and knew the girl was more worried about what would happen to them than what had happened to Sally. It was then that Sally decided that if she were to be a ghost then Charlene would never know peace again.
So this prompt came from a dream. Most people would call it a nightmare, but I merely awoke thinking “I could totally write that.”
Which begs the question: Can writers truly have nightmares, or do they merely have a productive nights sleep?