#81 The Cliff

by Paul M. Feeney

“Did you know Bergholt means ‘wood on the hill’?”

She looked up at me; a quick shake of her head followed by the question in her eyes.

“Long time ago, there were trees, here. In Norman times...and much, much further back. This land drips with history, most of it written in blood. Some things never seem to change...”

Her tiny hand squeezed mine, the fingers scarcely able to cover my palm. I felt her small body tense.

We stared out to sea and watched the sun set. As it dipped, the light spread out into a thin red line, like a knife wound oozing blood. Blood again, always blood.

I looked down at my daughter, my last child. In the dusk, her eyes shone, a pale light. Her mouth was like a thin slash in raw dough. My heart felt like a lump of stone, my soul a twisted shadow in the pit of my stomach.

“Do you think they’ll come back?” she asked.

I thought of lying, but she would know. She always knew.

“I don’t know...I don’t know.”

We stood and watched in a silence that deepened with the dark. Eventually, my daughter spoke again.

“Who’s Norman?”

I felt like laughing, but choked it back. If I started, I wouldn’t be able to stop. It would be the last human sound to echo in this place. The laughter of the mad.

Soon, this whole place would be drowned in blood again.

17 comments:

Robert Cormack said...

Intrigued, makes me want to read more.
Nicely written.

paulfny said...

Cheers Rob, thanks for looking :-)

Anonymous said...

Nice written piece - very evocative.

paulfny said...

Thank you Anonymous, glad you liked it :-)

Lisa Pellegrini said...

I love the ambiguity of this piece--the setting, the imagery of the sky, the feeling of desolation, and the way the whole story feels like a Stephen King-esque horror tale about to unfold. I definitely would like to read more of it as well, considering that the backstory is so mystifying. You are very talented indeed!

paulfny said...

Wow, thank you so much, I'm very humbled. I had hoped to capture a sense of sad mystery, but never sure if it works. Thank you so much for your comment :-)

Lisa Pellegrini said...

There definitely is a feeling of sadness here and grief, I think. I just got the impression that he is Norman, and that he killed his family and will soon kill his daughter (his "last child"). So there was a foreboding sense of horror, to me. I really must give you kudos on the imagery here -- the sunset being like a knife wound, her mouth being like a slash through dough. This story is one of my favorites.

Jonathan Riley said...

Great imagery and metaphors! Yeah, the whole thing is a bit eerie and that's what I liked so much about it. One tiny qualm I had was that it took a few reads to tell who was speaking in the beginning. I don't mind the lack of dialogue tags, but usually I see the dialogue followed immediately by the action of the one speaking. With the action of the girl on the second line I was confused to rather or not it was her or the narrator speaking in the first. I figured it out, but it slowed me down a bit. But yeah, otherwise it's perfect.

paulfny said...

Thanks so much for the positive comments. I see what you mean with the confusion of the speaker. In my head, it's clear but of course, the trick is to pass that on to the reader. If I'd had the time, I'd have added a simple 'I said'. :-D Thanks again.

Mark West said...

Intriguing and nicely done

paulfny said...

Thanks for reading and enjoying, Mark. Glad you liked it :-)

Dino Parenti said...

Love atavistic stories like these. Great work.

paulfny said...

Thanks, Dino, much obliged for the comment :-)

John said...

Really enjoyed that Paul. It has a sense of uneasy foreboding, not just in what is coming in the darkness and who's blood will be spilled, but the whole situation of the man and his last daughter. Nice work

paulfny said...

Thanks very much, John. Glad you liked it :-)

Rich Hawkins said...

Nice work, Paul. Really liked it.

paulfny said...

Cheers Rich, thanks for commenting :-)